ACFW Contest Vs. Personality Quizz

2018 has been rotten overall. I can give a long list of reasons; totally valid reasons I might add. You would read it and maybe feel as sorry for me as I’ve felt for myself. Well, maybe not quite.

Any who…

Have you taken any of those personality tests? I’ve taken probably half a dozen or more. Now, sometimes they are encouraging, right? They showcase your strengths, and even though they also highlight some weakness in your character or habits, they mainly seem to focus on positives. At the least they help you identify your strengths.

My family likes to do these. I suppose it’s good to take the tests together and discuss them,  and compare them. They help us discover things about ourselves and each other. They are helpful in marriages to understand one another better.

However, I took one that my husband and oldest son rave about as most accurate, and I came off badly. For one thing, it seemed to have too few questions to be very accurate. For another thing, the results are so arbitrary to be dependent on your blood sugar levels, hormones, or mood that day. That’s my opinion anyway. It also said I was pretty opinionated. Whatever.

I scored 100% on creativity and imagination and like a 5% on self discipline. So, apparently I’m like some flighty, artsy type who floats through life never really accomplishing anything? Well, that hurt. I evaluated my life for hours after that. I couldn’t sleep.

I got a low score on empathy for others…what?! Really? As well as some extremes on other areas like a very high score on assertiveness. Now, some things are probably close to the truth, but others I have serious doubts about.

I took the test with my oldest son and his wife, and held up pretty well in spite of my rising discouragement while they were here. But after they left, I kind of fell apart. By fell apart, I mean like cried for about 3 or 4 hours. That’s not like me at all. Perhaps it has something to do with the no good, rotten year I’ve had so far. It all folded in on me and I had a major pity party. Maybe I was mourning for the person I want to be but am not yet. Maybe I’m drained and over emotional. Could be a combination of it all. Maybe I’ll just go take the enneagram test again. sigh. I don’t know about you, but I get sick of navel gazing. Everywhere I go, there I am. I get sick of myself. There are far more interesting things to think about and examine in the world. I suppose some introspection is healthy, though.

The interesting thing is, the same day I also got the judge’s critiques back from the First Impressions contest that ACFW holds every year. I didn’t expect to do well, and I wasn’t upset by the criticism at all. I had entered the contest with the goal of receiving the feedback. I want to know where to focus my studying of fiction writing craft. If you have never heard of this contest, and you are a christian fiction writer, it’s a gem. By the way, thank you judges! Your time is appreciated.

First Impressions is an amazing opportunity for unpublished writers. It’s only $15 for professional judging and 3 critiques on the first 5 pages and blurb of your manuscript. Pure gold!

I had been so cut down by that personality test and yet I read the critiques on my writing with relish. I know it sounds weird, but I’m being honest. I knew going in I hadn’t put forth my best work. I had started with the wrong scene for my genre. I knew that, but had been so focused on getting words down for two books that I didn’t spend much time  polishing those 5 pages before entering the contest. Besides that I could not format the way they wanted to save my life. I spend days and days on that and still ended up needing someone to do it for me. I really wanted to know my weakest points, and I got my desire. It didn’t sting though. The feedback gave me places to go, rather than spreading my time so thin by trying to cover everything at once. I have only been writing fiction for a year, and studying how to do it for a couple months longer than that. You can imagine I have years to go before I get proficient at this writing thing.

Now, why were the results of the contest a blessing to me, and the results of the personality test a curse? For one thing, I still don’t think that particular personality test very accurate, for another it seemed like a personal attack. The judges scores and comments on my manuscript were valuable to me because I want to improve as a writer, and I give myself grace and time to learn. The personality scores lacked grace and maybe even truth, so I found them discouraging.

My takeaway is that maybe when I am passionate about learning something I can take the hits and keep going, but when I merely feel criticized without suggestions of self-improvement I am discouraged. Wouldn’t you be? Maybe I’m wrong. Being self-aware is great. Helpful even. I highly recommend it. But if the feedback in your life merely makes you feel shame, toss it and move along.

I’m going to do something the next two days very well. I’m going to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my beloved family. I excel at Holiday dinners. My gravy would bring a tear to your eye. Then I’m going to watch the Hallmark channel all weekend, and Monday I’ll get back to work on grammar, story structure, plotting and characterization. I’ll busy myself with Novel Academy lessons, and I’ll keep writing every morning. In-between barn chores, laundry, and grocery shopping.

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Since supposedly I have little to no self-control, I’ll make sure to hit Starbucks for my decaf Cordusio and stock my writing desk full of chocolate. Eat that, personality test.

I hope you’re having a better year than I am, and let’s all hope that 2019 is brilliant.

 

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I Am Writing, Hashtag

I’ve been busy with writing and life, making soap and dealing with one health issue after another. I won’t go down my list with the fascinating facts, but I could use some prayer.

I’ve been working on 3 books this year and two are in the almost finished phase of their first drafts.

I’m a member if ACFW and usually pretty good about meeting my word goals each month on the Novel Track loop. This month we shall see… I’ve had some kind of appointment or other most days.

Have you ever seen

papaya Art bags? Well, I’m addicted. I found this bag that believe it or not, matches the cover in one of my books. Say what?! Yes, I know. I’m getting this baby from Sage & Rose Boutique. The owner is a neighbor of mine and a veteran. Have you ever been to a mobile boutique? Hers was my first and I’ll just say it’s fun!

If you’re in my area, ask me how to get in contact with the boutique for yourself and friends or google it.

Next week I’ll cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family, then I’ll get busy with Christmas preparations.

Christmas with the little people is always exciting. It’s almost time to put together my annual cocoa bar. The kids love that.

My heart belongs to this sweet girl who makes my day several days a week. I can’t wait until she snuggles up by the fire with a fancy cocoa and writes her letter to Santa.

These are good days. I hope yours are good too.

Fall Y’all

I don’t know about you but this fall has been busy for me. The animals are fat and glossy, ready for breeding season. Apples are peeled and in the freezer for pies. The sheep have full fleeces again, and school pictures have been delivered.

There have been two weddings to celebrate. Soap has been made, cured and orders in.

We have had a few upsets in the family. Just life.

My back freaked out and I was in terrible pain for a month- it still hurts, but I’m functional again- just in time for the Olympic Peninsula Christian Writers conference where I met and learned from Kate Breslin, in particular. She’s one of my favorite writers.

All in all, I’m not sad about winter coming because settling down by the fire with books, coffee, and my laptop is sounding pretty good. Oh ya, let’s not forget Netflix.

I’m writing quite a bit, two projects that I switch between. One contemporary Romance and one devotional. I’m also teaching story writing to a class of homeschooled kids.

 

what are you up to?

Journal The Word Bible Review

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NIV, Journal the Word Bible for Women, Comfort Print 500+ Prompts to Encourage Journaling and Reflection

By Zondervan Bibles
Published by Zondervan

Hey, are you looking for a nice Bible with lined wide margins for note taking, devotional thoughts, prayers, etc.? This handy sized Bible just might be what you’ve been searching for. I like the simplicity, the layout, and new Zondervan NIV Comfort Print font. It’s 9.9-point font, and interesting. I can’t say I would buy a Bible just for that font, but it’s nice. I’m not a particular fan of the NIV translation to study out of, either. It’s a nice reading Bible, and the margins are fabulous.

The cover is navy blue cloth over board. The gold and red embossed design is eye-catching. It fits comfortably in your hands, and is easy to grip. I must say I like the other covers better, and there are a number to choose from.

Check this one out at Amazon here

As you can see the side margins are nice for jotting thoughts, prayers, dates, etc. I love wide margin Bibles. I won’t buy one that doesn’t have some sort. I write in all of my Bibles, and most of my books.

The presentation page is stunning. The devotional prompts throughout are nice. I think this Bible makes an ideal gift for someone who would like a little help getting their own devotions going, or maybe someone who is going through a dry spell and could use someone else’s inspiration to help keep them afloat. Spiritual practices can sometimes use assistance, you know?

This review was done by my own opinion. I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher, and promised to give an unbiased written review.

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Catch Up

Fall is my favorite season for so many reasons. It’s too busy though. The holidays coming up keep parts of my mind circling over ideas, menus, and gift ideas.

My sweet boy is still homeschooling but also getting some special help at the little country school down the road. His tutor is a friend from church and he’s already reading! Very proud mom here.

The school is nestled amongst apple orchards and small cattle ranches. I love it and so does my son. He only attends part time but it’s just enough.

The ranch is full of kittens so we are busy trying to find good homes for them.My sweet aunt Merry has been battling stage 4 cancer and strokes. She’s tough and brave. She’s one of my father’s sisters.

I’m making my usual fall goat milk soaps. And… I’m almost done with a romance I’ve been working on. I mean just the first draft of the story. Lots of rewriting and edits to go, but still…I’m enjoying the beautiful scenery on this ranch for the 15th year. Blessings.

An Unpresentable Glory Review

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Eleanor K. Gustafson has authored quite a story.

I didn’t understand the title and theme of this novel until the epilogue.

A stranger finds his way into the garden of Linda Jensen. He’s in a vulnerable state. She’s highly in tune with the Holy Spirit. Thus begins a journey full of drama and emotion, complicated relationships and unpresentable glories.

So many issues are part of this tale: politics, immigration, mental illness, friendship, christianity, and a legion of others all flavor this story stew. But in the end the love of God and His scandalous mercy are what shine through.

Well done, Eleanor Gustafson, you gave us powerful characters and plot, a satisfying ending, and tied up the loose ends that kept the tension high and threatened my peace. Thank you for a memorable read.

The author does a beautiful job portraying Christ’s love, true discipleship, and being an ambassador for Christ in every nuance of daily life. Some characters are downright mysterious, some wicked, some glowing with goodness, but in the end you will be both surprised and touched. I cried through the epilogue, no kidding.

Thoughts on The Vine

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides (dwells, lives, stays) in Me, and I  in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

 

I have been obsessed with John 15 this year, and it seems that I run across it in other people’s writings at least weekly, if not more often.

My life, at this point, is almost exactly how I wanted it be when I was a child, dreaming up what I’d like my future to look like.

I always struggled with feelings of unworthiness, and for so long felt some kind of twisted guilt that my life was so good as an adult.I had a feeling that I had to earn my blessings somehow- to produce and do.

I’m not saying there haven’t  been troubles and tragedies, we all have those, and I’m aware of that, so those don’t really count. I think people who don’t grow up “rough”, and experience poverty and hardship have a harder time being grateful, honestly. I think our perception is about 98% of our life experience. If not more. So, I can honestly say my life is rich, it’s full, and it’s beautiful.I suspect I have an easier time perceiving that because my childhood was…not this good.

But still, there’s that little bit inside of me that struggles thinking I need to do more, be more, and have more. Contentment is a virtue-a strength- you know. Without it, we have a form of weakness. It’s in our characters. I always feel like I need to pay back some debt. So I have done all manner of community service and ministry-type things over the years. But mostly I’ve learned to bypass and manage my own feelings of inadequacy and stop trying to measure up to my own standards. I do this by practicing my identity as a child of God, and dwelling in Him. Abiding in Jesus, I know He puts desires in me “to will and do good things”. The Bible says so, in Philippians 2:13. The problem arises when opportunities are presented, or manufactured by others or myself, to do “things”. I get tired out, there are so many things to do. It’s a smaller world now that it’s gone digital, and I find there are endless ways to help others, to be busy long distance, or even to find local projects. Just being busy for others isn’t the same as producing fruit though.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, so you will be My disciples.” John 15:7-8

These are truths that are evident in my own life. I know them not just by reading, but 23 years now of living in- abiding, dwelling, resting in- Jesus Christ.

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” John 15: 9-10

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“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13img_9359

I’ve learned that a family in this culture is rare and more valuable than it used to be, simply because of rarity. I’ve learned that Jesus valued people more than laws and traditions. I’m at the point in my life now, at 49 and getting tired, that I think abiding in Jesus is more than I realized, and better than I had hoped. Just as my relationship with Jesus has become more valuable to me over the years, so has my family. And family in general. As I hear more and more often of divorces and tragedies that take families apart, I am grieved. I value my own relationships more than ever. In fact, I think family is so very important that I believe it’s a significant part of the fruit Jesus is talking about.

That abiding in the Vine, and the rich soil of faith, helps grow healthy families. There are always going to be weeds, droughts, and destructive virus’ and insects, but if we stay connected, the Gardener takes care of those, like a good manager.

I dwell on the babies and children without families in foster care still. I dream of cuddling newborns again. I dwell on the lonely elderly folks whose young family doesn’t appreciate them with visits and talks. I dwell on those who have abandoned their families for selfish reasons and regret it later on, after the damage is done.

But our God is a redeemer. He takes a humble heart and works miracles. I hold out a lot of hope for the things that are wrong in my own family, simply because God sustains my hope with His word. I read it daily, I bathe my mind in it, and I keep it close to me no matter what’s going on.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:16-17

One thing I have learned, and that’s love is a verb. It’s not a warm feeling. It’s sometimes a discipline and sometimes it requires we give sacrificially, but sometimes we must put up boundaries. Healthy love has action behind it, and motives.

I may feel strongly about those I love, or even those I feel compassion towards, but without acting on those in ways prescribed by wisdom, then they are nothing but noise.  Love doesn’t  enable a bad person. It isn’t agreeing with everyone, and it isn’t telling someone “you are enough” when clearly none of us are apart from Jesus.

Love is a fruit. I think some good fruit looks like taking in a child temporarily or permanently without a family, and bringing them into yours. Fruit is visiting your elderly neighbor and making them part of your family if they are lonely. Fruit is enjoying the gifts God has already given you and being content. Fruit is preferring your spouse to yourself and not having to win every argument.

Living in an agrarian community I have had the blessing of learning about fruits, and vines, cultivating, hard work, soil, and fertilizers first hand. It’s been invaluable for my spiritual growth. I’m thrilled that it’s right outside my doors every day.

I watch the orchard workers prune the trees one season, thin the apples the next, and all of it looks like hard work, patience, and tough on the trees, but the apples they produce are delicious, beautiful, and good for us. They go out all over the world. They dwell in rich, volcanic soil, and they submit to pruning and thinning. Just like us believers. God is the Vinedresser, the Master Gardener, and He takes the time to make us fruitful.

We must root down deep, being nourished in the rich soil of abiding faith, and in this way, connected to the Vine, we will bear much fruit. Genuine and good fruit.

 But if we are shallow and rootless we will also be fruitless.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4

You Know What

You know what I think of when I stay as a guest in someone else’s home and they have washcloths available in the guest bath?

Finally! Another sane person.

How do people live without washcloths? And really, why would they want to?