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BLOGWORDS – 9 October 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – TAMARA TILLEY

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – TAMARA TILLEY

 

“I don’t know about you, but being an avid reader myself, I love finding out more about the authors I read. There’s a connection that’s made between an author and his readers through the characters in his novels.”

 

“My goal in writing characters with issues isn’t to highlight their shortcomings, but to show how God understands our humanness and is waiting for the time when we realize we can no longer live life on our own.”

 

 

 

The Emergence of Self-Publishing, Print-On-Demand, and the Indie Author

 

I’m delighted Robin has given me the opportunity to jot down a little something regarding my writing journey. Though I have been writing Christian/Romance/Suspense since 2003, I still consider myself a novice and a newcomer to the writing community. I was first published in 2006, but in 2009, I took a step back. Disillusioned with the treatment I received from a Christian publishing house, I wondered if I would ever get another opportunity to publish the stories God laid on my heart. I’m excited to say, with the partnering of self-publishing and Print-On-Demand, the opportunities for Indie (Independent) authors is almost limitless, and free from the constraints of traditional publishing houses. Here is a summary of my journey.

 

My first published work, Full Disclosure, was released in 2006, followed by Abandoned Identity, and Criminal Obsession. When a small publishing house released these novels, my works came under the scrutiny of the cursed red pen. I knew that is what I could expect from a Christian publishing house, but still felt disappointed when very realistic issues were considered questionable and omitted from the final draft. After parting ways with that publishing house, due to personal reasons, I embarked on a ten-year journey that landed me on the path of self-publishing—and I couldn’t be more excited!

 

In 2014, with the advice I received from a multi-published, award-winning author, I began to navigate the world of self-publishing. I did so with equal parts self-doubt and excitement, but I’m so glad I did. With the release of Badge of Respect, One Saturday, and Just An Act, I have the privilege of seeing my completed manuscripts in print—something I’m not sure would have happened within the confines of the traditional Christian publishing house.

 

I am so excited to be a part of the new lifeblood that is flowing from the self-publishing market. As a Christian author who desires to pen realistic stories, I now have the ability to write what God has pressed on my heart without having to fit my stories into the somewhat sanitized mold of the conservative Christian publishing house. That is not to say that I want to write tawdry stories filled with sensationalism, but I do want to write stories that are realistic and relevant to the times in which we are living. The world is messy. And we as Christians are not immune to those messes. As humans, we fail, sometimes miserably. Not because we love God less, but because we are imperfect. We should not fool ourselves into thinking Christians don’t lie, swear, or fall into temptation—because they do. I applaud stories that accurately portray trials along with triumphs in the lives of Christian characters. In no way am I condoning sin or making excuses for it. However, I am also not so pious as to believe it doesn’t touch the lives of those who love God.

 

The books I choose to read need to fulfill the three “E”s. Enjoyment. Entertainment. Escapism. However, books that have heroes and heroines who are white knights and can do no wrong, aren’t what draw me in. Real people grappling with real issues is cathartic, and in a sense, therapeutic. To put on someone else’s skin and watch how they overcome tragedy, obstacles, or self-destructive choices, is encouraging. To portray the primary players in a novel free from reality minimizes the impact they make as characters. Great examples of books that are emerging from Christian authors willing to tackle difficult or unorthodox storylines are: Kept by Sally Bradley, Sway by Amy Matayo, Told You So by Kristen Heitzmann, and Tears of the Sea by MaryLu Tyndall. Today, many best-selling authors are not only working hand-in-hand with Christian publishing houses but are also stepping out on their own to publish stories they are passionate about. The self-publishing field no longer has the stigma it once carried. It is a new energy that is infusing the market of literature, be both print and e-books. Christian artists are writing intelligent stories for readers looking for something more than cookie-cutter storylines and unflawed characters.

 

As you can tell, I am passionate and excited about where publishing is headed. However, please don’t misinterpret my excitement for self-publishing as a way to discount the immeasurable number of talented authors and incredible stories being told within the traditional Christian market. If it wasn’t for the skill of these authors to transport and inspire, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with reading and writing. My personal library numbers well over a thousand books, from hundreds of talented authors. I will continue to support the Christian publishing market—even as my bookshelves become weary of the load. I am just pointing out the innovative market that is breathing new life into an established field, affording readers more choices than ever. Self-publishing is not replacing the standard avenue, it is simply adding to the depth of the publishing field.

 

Now . . . just to be clear . . . the stories I write are not scandalous or outrageous. My characters just happened to be people dealing with realistic issues. Characters who love God but struggle with His sovereignty during the most difficult of times, or characters who meet God in places they never imagined He could be found.

 

If you are curious about my books, click on the link below. It will take you to my website where you can read the first chapter of each of my books.

 

http://www.tamaratilley.com/books.html

 

If you are interest still, comment on this post to be entered into a drawing for my current release, Just An Act. Robin will tally comments and select a winner by using Random.org. The drawing will run for one week.


 

Tamara Tilley has been writing romance/suspense novels since 2003. Along with her love for writing, she is an avid book reviewer for a number of distinguished publishing houses. Tamara has a Bible degree from Liberty University and lives and works at Hume Lake Christian Camps, with her husband of 37 years, Walter. If you would like to know more about Tamara, and her books, her are a few links where she can be found.

tamaratilley.com

http://tamara-tilley.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/tamara.tilley.author

 

 

“I write what I enjoy reading. I like stories with action, suspense, romance, characters with faults and flaws, and though not always a cookie-cutter ending, a story that draws me in until the very last page.”

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Tamara Tilley, Self-Publishing, Print on Demand, Indie Author

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BLOGWORDS – 25 September 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – LYNN BLACKBURN

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – LYNN BLACKBURN

 

 

I love writing conferences. Big ones, small ones. Near ones, far ones. I love attending them as a conferee and I love being on faculty.

 

But as much as I love them, conferences wear me out—usually by mid-afternoon of the first full day, if not earlier. (I once had something very close to a panic attack while in line for registration).

 

Over the years I’ve come up with a few tips and tricks—some self-care for the conference attending writer—that help me get the most out of each new experience.

  1. Recognize the need for self-care. Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish, arrogant, or anti-social. This is about survival. You’ve spent a lot of money and invested time and energy to attend this event and you owe it to yourself (and everyone who has sacrificed to help you be there) to make the most of it. You can’t do that if you’re walking around in a daze or avoiding conversations.

 

  1. Prepare for the conference BEFORE you leave home. You’ll feel more confident and less stressed if you’ve spent some time looking at the schedule and familiarizing yourself with the layout of the facility.

  1. Hydrate. Seriously. I mess this up every time. It isn’t until I realize my hands and feet are swelling and I feel parched that I remember how little water I’ve had. Conferences tend to be the kind of places where you consume a lot of caffeinated beverages and sodium laden foods. We underestimate how much we need to stay hydrated to be able to think clearly. Take a bottle of water with you everywhere you go!

 

  1. Give yourself permission to skip a session. I know you don’t want to miss anything, but just because you signed up for a class doesn’t mean you have to go. Sometimes what you need most is a nap. Or time in a prayer room. You might need to spend catching up with a friend. The conference experience is about more than how many classes you attend so don’t stress about it.

 

  1. Don’t fight your wiring, but don’t let it keep you from getting the most out of the conference. If you’re an extrovert and you loving being around so many like-minded writers, enjoy all the socializing. Just don’t forget to cement the things you’re learning in your mind. For some extroverts that might mean talking about what you just learned in a class with a fellow conferee. Or you could make a voice recording on your phone so you can get those thoughts out of your head so you won’t forget them. If you’re an introvert, take a break when you need to. Just don’t hide in your room so long that you fail to take advantage of the networking opportunities that exist between and after sessions.

  1. Get your rest. My conference motto tends to be “I’ll sleep when I get home” and I still do that if the conference is short in duration. But I have learned the hard way that if I’m attending a conference that’s longer than two nights, I need to be sure I get at least one early bedtime or skip breakfast so I can sleep in—or both. This may not apply to you if you’re under 40. 🙂

 

Are you a regular writing conference attendee? Do you have any tips you could add to the list? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

 

Grace and peace,

Lynn

 

Lynn H. Blackburn believes in the power of stories, especially those that remind us that true love exists, a gift from the Truest Love. She’s passionate about CrossFit, coffee, and chocolate (don’t make her choose) and experimenting with recipes that feed both body and soul. She lives in South Carolina with her true love, Brian, and their three children. Her first book, Covert Justice, won the 2016 Selah Award for Mystery and Suspense and the 2016 Carol Award for Short Novel. Her second book, Hidden Legacy, released in June 2017 and her new Dive Team Investigations series kicks off in March of 2018 with Beneath the Surface. You can follow her real life happily ever after at www.LynnHBlackburn.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Lynn Blackburn, Writer’s Conference, Prepare, Hydrate, Rest, Self Care

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BLOGWORDS – 11 September 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – ANDREA MERRELL

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – ANDREA MERRELL

 

What to Expect from a Writers’ Conference

 

Are you a writer who is serious about your writing journey? If so, let’s talk about writers’ conferences. With so many to choose from, it takes research, planning, and prayer to find the right fit for you. Many of you may be wondering if you need to attend a conference, especially with the cost, time, and effort involved.

 

Wherever you are in your decision making, here are a few things you can expect.

 

Networking

There is no greater place to connect with like-minded folks than a writers’ conference. They say writers are a peculiar bunch, but this is a venue where you can know for sure people “get” you. You will meet people from all across the country, from newbies to multi-published authors, to agents, editors, and publishers. Exchange business cards. Follow up with them after the conference and establish a relationship.

 

You never know when God will give you a kingdom connection, and you never know how it might come. He may surprise you with those He chooses to pour into your life and help you move forward. Sometimes our greatest blessing may come from the last possible place (or person) we expected.

 

Learning the Craft

Most conferences offer a wide variety of classes from social media to how to write a novel. You can learn everything from the basics of writing to marketing. Writing is a lifelong learning process, and this is the best way to sharpen your skills. Think of it as continuing education for writers. Always be open and teachable. Take notes, and brainstorm with other conferees. If the classes are recorded, be sure to purchase the MP3s or digital downloads. This way, you have the entire conference to listen to over and over.

 

Pitching Your Work

Whether you have a completed manuscript or simply an idea for a project, this venue will give you the opportunity to meet with agents, editors, and publishers. Attending a conference is the only way to have access to these industry professionals who will give you invaluable feedback. If they like what you have to offer, they may even ask you to send them a proposal or sample chapters.

 

Contests and Critiques

Many conferences will allow you to send in your work ahead of time to be critiqued. This is another great way to get feedback on your writing. If they offer contests, don’t hesitate to enter. It’s not important whether you win or lose; it will be good experience for you to submit your words.

 

Are conferences important to your writing career? Absolutely. The best advice I ever received as a newbie was to “join a critique group, attend writers’ conferences, and network, network, network.” I took that advice and have never regretted it for one moment.

 

Whatever you do, be ready. When you ask God to bless you and open doors of opportunity, He will. The best way to begin each day is to pray for divine appointments, divine connections, and divine favor.

 

Andrea Merrell is an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. She teaches workshops at writers’ conferences and has been published in numerous anthologies and online venues. Andrea is a graduate of Christian Communicators and a finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards. She is the author of Murder of a Manuscript, Praying for the Prodigal, and Marriage: Make It or Break It.

 

 

www.AndreaMerrell.com

www.TheWriteEditing.com.

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Andrea Merrell, What to Expect from a Writers’ Conference

 

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BLOGWORDS – 4 September 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – THE LONG SHADOWS OF SUMMER RELEASE FEATURE – ON BREAK

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – ON BREAK

 

“I’ve always had voices—er, stories in my head. I once said I should write them all down so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!”

 

 

 “Break the rules. That’s my number one rule. I know the rules [of grammar] and I know how to break them.”

 

The launch for The Long Shadows of Summer was more stress inducing than writing it. Or than I realized. Now that she’s launched and out in the world, the stress has (ahem) lifted and I’m surging forward with The Tilting Leaves of Autumn.

 

Still, it’s good to take a break, and this week, New Week New Face is, well, on break. I’ll return next week with a post about writing conferences. Til then, happy reading. And happy writing.

 

I have been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on my debut novel, Tessa in 2013.  Meanwhile, I cranked out a few dozen poems, made countless notes for story ideas, and earned my BFA in Interior Design.  I lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; I didn’t want to be who I was and struggled with my own identity for many years.  My characters face many of these same demons.

 

I write stories of identity conflict. My characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, my stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. I know, I write from experience.

 

I have three novels published, the unsavory heritage series. Tessa, Clara Bess, and Cissy are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. I also have several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. I am currently working on The Tilting Leaves of Autumn, Book Two in my new series, Seasons. It releases in November, following The Long Shadows of Summer, which releases in August. Books 3 and 4 in the series will be out in 2018.

 

http://robinemason.com

https://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-E-Mason-Author-Artist/224223274404877
http://www.amazon.com/Robin-E.-Mason/e/B00MR5IQ9S
https://twitter.com/amythyst212
http://www.pinterest.com/amythyst212/

https://www.instagram.com/robinemason212/

https://plus.google.com/u/0/108929134414473292325

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7808042.Robin_E_Mason

 

 “There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, And you ask “What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, What if you fly?” – Erin Hanson

 

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, On Break, Recovery Mode, The Tilting Leaves of Autumn, Happy Reading, Happy Writing

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BLOGWORDS – 28 August 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – THE LONG SHADOWS OF SUMMER RELEASE FEATURE – EDWARDIAN LIFE

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – EDWARDIAN LIFE

“I’ve always had voices—er, stories in my head. I once said I should write them all down so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!”

 

 

“Break the rules. That’s my number one rule. I know the rules [of grammar] and I know how to break them.”

 

Seasons is a merge of cultures—Edwardian Era, La Belle Époque, and the remnants of plantation masters and slaves. Saisons House runs as any aristocratic household, but the Dubois family are kind and benevolent masters and have been through generations.

 

There were those of nobility that were blissfully ignorant to harsh conditions of the very ones who served them. The long hours—rising before dawn, and in service sometimes til midnight or later, at their masters’ beck and call. Masters depended on servants to do virtually everything pertaining to running the house—or tending the children and assisting the master and lady get dressed.

 

Equality, however, was unheard of, and for all their generosity, the Dubois family were still nobility, and maintained expectations. The social calendar was demanding, and unrelenting. My town of Saisons is not large, but the social climate thrives, drawing from nearby Charleston and Savannah. Being a family and town of French heritage, they take their cues from Paris as well as London and the surrounding Southern plantation culture.

 

Life was rigid and strict for servants. But for all their wealth, there was a continual string of events the aristocracy was expected to attend—sporting events and house parties, concerts and balls and charitable benefits, besides interviews and fittings for new gowns and suits. And each social appointment demands a new ensemble. And while seeming frivolous and easy, the demands did not relent until well past midnight, to begin again with the sunrise.

 

The lady of the house dressed for breakfast and changed for her morning outing or errands. She changed again for luncheon, and yet again for dinner and evening activities. And each change required the assistance of her ladies maid. That was a minimum of four outfits in one day.

 

For all our 21st century disdain for the mentality of the aristocracy, they were rather imprisoned as well. A woman born to privilege would never have thought to go belowstairs or enter the kitchen, let alone perform menial tasks. To eschew her station and wealth would thrust her into poverty, and with no skills.

 

The formality of society didn’t allow spontaneity, or impulsive or impromptu activity. No day at the park with the kids. No last minute leisurely Sunday ride through the country. That was the nanny’s job.

 

All was not paradise on either “side.” Neither side was golden. There were difficulties on both sides. The grass is always greener and all… How many stories have been written about a character giving up all he or she had to live life differently? How many stories are out there of forbidden love between classes?

 

It occurs to me, as I cull through my notes, that perhaps life works better when we work together. When no one class is entitled to the services of another. When no one class is “less than” because of birth or monetary status, i.e. poverty. When those who have reach out a hand to those who don’t.  Helping each other. Teamwork. Collaboration. Drawing on each others strengths. Not demanding what isn’t ours, but sharing what is. It would turn the orderly Edwardian world on its collective head.

 

I have been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on my debut novel, Tessa in 2013.  Meanwhile, I cranked out a few dozen poems, made countless notes for story ideas, and earned my BFA in Interior Design.  I lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; I didn’t want to be who I was and struggled with my own identity for many years.  My characters face many of these same demons.

 

I write stories of identity conflict. My characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, my stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. I know, I write from experience.

 

I have three novels published, the unsavory heritage series. Tessa, Clara Bess, and Cissy are available on Amazon, both for Kindle and in print. I also have several poems included in an anthology, Where Dreams and Visions Live (Anthologies of the Heart Book 1) by Mary Blowers, as well as a short story, Sarafina’s Light, also in an anthology, Blood Moon, compiled by Mary Blowers. I am currently working on The Tilting Leaves of Autumn, Book Two in my new series, Seasons. It releases in November, following The Long Shadows of Summer, which releases in August. Books 3 and 4 in the series will be out in 2018.

 

http://robinemason.com

https://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-E-Mason-Author-Artist/224223274404877
http://www.amazon.com/Robin-E.-Mason/e/B00MR5IQ9S
https://twitter.com/amythyst212
http://www.pinterest.com/amythyst212/

https://www.instagram.com/robinemason212/

https://plus.google.com/u/0/108929134414473292325

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7808042.Robin_E_Mason

 

 “There is freedom waiting for you, On the breezes of the sky, And you ask “What if I fall?” Oh but my darling, What if you fly?” – Erin Hanson

 

 

#Blogwords, The Long Shadows of Summer Release Feature, Seasons Book 1, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Edwardian Life, La Belle Époque

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BLOGWORDS – Monday 21 August 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – THE LONG SHADOWS OF SUMMER RELEASE FEATURE – GUEST POST – PEPPER BASHAM

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – PEPPER BASHAM

 

Britallachian romance peppered with grace and humor.”

 

 

I love a good romance, whether it’s set in an Edwardian era manor house or a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains.”

 

Servants in the grand houses of the late 19th and early 20th centuries worked hard—and by hard, I mean their diligence, work hours, and lack of recognition could only be somewhat compared to a mother of triplets.

 

Servants performed the grunge work—the thankless activities—many times starting before dawn and ending after dark. The jobs of Victorian and Edwardian era servants were relentless, and to really become someone of high rank in a household…well, it usually took a lifetime.

 

In most aristocratic households, the servants walked about ‘unseen’ by the family, unless they were upstairs staff such as butlers, housekeepers, lady’s maids, and footmen, as well as governesses/nannies. The lord and lady of the house were raised to only acknowledge them if absolutely necessary and the below stairs servants were not to initiate conversations with the family unless specifically requested.

 

Television adaptations like Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey give us a glimpse into this ‘underbelly’ of downstairs, but their portrayal is much more glamorous than actuality. Mutual respect between servants and families was not necessarily a common theme.

 

Before the break of day, servants completed a massive pile of chores to ensure every need of the family was met.

  • raked and laid out the fires in the fireplaces
  • open shutters in the rooms where the families would gather
  • made certain each room was straightened up from any disorder from the previous day
  • dusted (including cleaning the floors and carpets)
  • empty chamber pots (if the house did not have indoor plumbing yet)

 

And then the servants might have a chance to eat their breakfast.

 

Throughout the day there were various other chores to do. Making beds, fetching food and cleaning up. Mending shoes. Preparing the family for outings.

 

Basically, mind-reading to anticipate what the family might want or need.

 

Sometimes the jobs became ridiculous, like ironing the master or mistresses shoe laces or clipping toenails.

 

This necessary ‘underground’ lifeforce of the estate house completed monotonous, repetitive jobs and, many times, only chose this occupation as an alternative to starvation.

 

It was a HARD life…and yet, there are stories of people who found their position and skills valued by their employers.

 

In a story I heard recently while touring the Biltmore, the tour guide told about the differences in which George Vanderbilt and his wife, Edith, viewed their servants. Though George was a kind man, he was raised in wealth his whole life—with less of a reputation of speaking to servants, but Edith broke the mold. She stepped over the divide between class distinctions by having conversations with the servants, sometimes even writing them letters and personally giving them gifts. Her generosity of heart, I’m certain, influenced her husband—because there are later stories of how he interacted with his employees in kind and generous ways.

 

That said—the life of a servant remained a tough one, and the only blessing among the grueling conditions was to have kind employers, marry someone who could take you out of service, or find another job (which is what began to happen more and more during WW1 and beyond)

 

Another time, maybe we could discuss the many different servant roles in the Victorian/Edwardian era, but until then I’d just like to say…if I could go back in time to the Edwardian era….I’d definitely want to come back as aristocracy 😉 (Besides, their clothes were lovely)

 


 

 

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus. Her debut historical novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015 and has garnered awards such as Reader’s Favorites Award, finalist in the Grace Awards, shortlisted for the Inspy Awards, and a finalist in ACFW’s Carol Awards. Her second historical novel, The Thorn Keeper, released in Feb 2016 and her first contemporary romance, A Twist of Faith, released in April 2016 with a 4 star review from Romantic Times. In December 2016, her third historical in the Penned in Time series, The Thorn Healer – released with a 4 1/2 star review from RT and a Top Picks rating. You can get to know Pepper on her website, http://www.pepperdbasham.com, on Facebook, or over at her group blog, The Writer’s Alley.

 

 

 

www.pepperdbasham.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pepper-D-Basham

https://twitter.com/pepperbasham

 

https://www.pinterest.com/pepperbasham/

 

 

#Blogwords, The Long Shadows of Summer Release Feature, Seasons Book 1, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Pepper Basham, A Servant’s Life

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BLOGWORDS – Monday 14 August 2017 – NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – JENNIFER HALLMARK

NEW WEEK NEW FACE – GUEST POST – JENNIFER HALLMARK

 

“The most important thing to me is my faith in God the father, His Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Second is my family and friends.”

 

 

“Jennifer and Ellen seek to bring hope and encouragement through Small Acts of Kindness on the blog and through everyday life. We hope to inspire others to be kind and thoughtful.”

Are You a Servant or a Child that Serves?

 

Many years ago, I was driving to the dentist with my daughter Mandy. I’d been studying the concept of being a child of God so I mentioned my thoughts to her along with a title, Are You a Servant or a Child that Serves?

 

She said, “Mom, it’s the same thing.”

 

I shook my head. “I thought so too. Now I know differently.”

 

Understanding the difference is probably the most important concept which led me to a closer walk with the Father. For almost 20 years, not understanding this has kept me from experiencing the closer relationship I desired with Father God.

 

We find the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32, a familiar story to Christians. It’s the story of a son who leaves home after demanding his inheritance from his father, spends it on riotous living and in his subsequent poverty, remembers his home and father.

 

“I will arise and go to my father and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  Make me like one of your hired servants.’” Luke 15:18-19 NKJV

 

The son returns home and when his father sees him from afar, runs to his son for a tender reunion. The son starts to make the above speech but is cut short because the father has forgiven him and started making preparations to bless and restore him to his proper place in the family. This is an important concept; one too many of us have missed somewhere along the way.

 

The story of the prodigal, whether told in sermon, drama or song, began to have a greater impact on me than ever before and I couldn’t understand why. The story, though familiar, would reduce me to tears every time I heard it. I had given my heart to God when I was nine years old and made a stronger commitment to give Him my life when I was fourteen. Since that time, I’d tried to serve Him to the best of my ability. God spoke gently to my heart, at that time, saying I’d been a servant instead of a child that serves.

 

We read in verses 18 and 19 of Luke 15 that the prodigal son realized his sinful state. He knew he is not worthy to be a son but had hopes that he would be accepted as a servant. The father is merciful and forgiving, however, and more than eager to have his son back at the family table. God used this story to show me that even though I’d given God my heart and accepted His salvation, that He’d prepared a “table” for my blessings and restoration and I’d not accepted them. He had a place designed for me since before time began; a special place as a daughter by her father. Unlike the prodigal son, I’d not accepted my seat at the table.

 

The prodigal son, upon his return, accepted the blessings and restoration that the father offered. He didn’t go put on servant’s clothes, sleep in servant’s quarters, and work with servants all day nor did he go back to poverty and the pig pen.

 

Years ago, God spoke to me and today He wants to speak to His Church. He desires children who will take their place as beloved of the King as did those of the kings of ages long past. Children of kings in the past were still children except they were in training to someday be like their father the king. They played and had fun like other children. However, throughout their childhood, they were learning the ways of the father. They weren’t born with all the characteristics of the king; it came through a process of learning, day by day.

 

When a married couple discusses adding to their household, they usually mean children. They don’t sit down and say, “Honey, do we want children or should we just hire a maid or butler?” This might sound ridiculous, nevertheless, we tend to think this way about Father God. Before we know God, we realize at some point in our lives that we are prodigal children, living in sin and upon this realization run home to God. The Father sees us coming and runs to us, already with preparations to restore us to our place as His child.  How many of us have said, “Thanks, but no thanks, I have to serve you and live in the servant’s quarters and work until I can repay you for all the grief I have caused.”

 

The debt has been paid. Jesus paid the price on Calvary and no amount of serving will bring us any closer to God. If anything, serving can get in the way of the intimate relationship God desires to have with His children.

 

We need to learn to be accepted as children before we can seek to please God through serving. Now I’m not saying you can’t help people and the church while you are learning, if your focus is on being restored as a child. God stopped me dead in my tracks one day and told me I could go no further until I accepted my place as His child. I could no longer try and please God or others through works, instead I had to learn to receive from God first His restoration and then His blessings.

 

For example, let’s look at one thing that happened after the Civil War. Some slaves who were freed would not leave their former masters and live as free men. They were so accustomed to slavery that they stayed at the same place doing the same job with little pay. They were freer than they were before the Civil War but were not living in the freedom that had been provided for them by others who laid down their lives.

 

Can you see this parallel with us today? We’ve been saved through Jesus’ finished work on the cross. However, we’re not much freer than before because we have a slave’s mentality.

 

How can we change? First, we must accept our position of sonship with the Father, acknowledging that we are saved by what Jesus did for us on the cross. It’s not according to our own worthiness or unworthiness. It is Jesus’ righteousness. We receive our adoption whether we feel it or not and then God will start our restoration and training on how to become more like Him.

 

It is a day-to-day process, ever dying to self and our fleshly way and learning to walk in the Spirit. We learn through relationship; spending time with God, just seeking His face, worship, listening to the Word and prayer.

 

God wants children who serve. Not out of duty. More out of love and relationship. We will serve and obey God in all areas of our lives and look at God as Father instead of a slave owner. This changes everything.

 

Are you a servant or a child who serves?

 

 

Jennifer Hallmark is a writer of Southern fiction and also fantasy; a combination that keeps the creative juices flowing.

She’s published over 200 articles and interviews on the internet, short stories in several magazines, and been part of three book compilations: The Heart Seekers Series, Sweet Freedom A La Mode, and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage.

Jennifer’s website, Alabama-Inspired Fiction, and the group blog she co-founded, focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers. She sends out a monthly newsletter, which you can subscribe to at her author page. You can visit her onFacebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max. Their daughter Mandy is married to Tim and they have two beautiful daughters, Ava, and Sadie, and a handsome son, Zeke. Their son, Jonathan, is married to Kristie and they have two beautiful daughters, Phoebe Jill and Rozlyn Claire, and a handsome son, Cohen .

Jennifer loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with all her grandchildren. At times, she writes.

 

https://jenniferhallmark.com/

https://www.facebook.com/authorjenniferhallmark

https://twitter.com/JenHwrites

https://www.pinterest.com/jenlhallmark989/

https://writingpromptsthoughtsideas.wordpress.com

 

“Acts of kindness. One reason I like sharing what others are doing to make the world a better place is to inspire others. Everyone can do something. From helping a neighbor to donating time and/or money to community projects, you have value inside of you to share with others.”

 

#Blogwords, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Jennifer Hallmark, A Child That Serves

 

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