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Book Update

How to Write a Good Blog Post

I’ve been trying to keep up with my blog, but in reality I have no time or motivation for writing. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE writing. However, I have begun to lose that zeal that I felt when I graduated college. When I graduated, I was full of good ideas. I had no problem dishing out a 500-word blog post per day. I wrote to my heart’s content, having plenty of time and energy to write both this blog post and my 5-page journal entries every night. It was great.

But then responsibilities kicked in…

I am thankful for my part-time job. I am thankful for my TEFL certification class. I am thankful for my observation and conversation classes. But I have had no time to write.

Still, my passion has not left me. I still want to write. I still want to encourage others with my voice. So what do I do?

Here is what I have discovered about being a writer/teacher/student/woman/daughter/worshiper:

  1. I’m writing for me. Sure, I want to encourage other people, but when I write, I’m using my voice, not the voice of what others tell me. People may get offended at my voice. People might think my voice doesn’t matter. And obviously, I might have to change my tone, depending on my audience. However, writing truly comes from the heart. If I don’t have the opportunity to express what is on my heart, my writing is just not going to be good. So…I’m finding my voice. And that’s OK.
  2. It’s going to take time. One time, my mom asked me how long it takes to write a blog post. It actually only took me four hours to write, edit, and submit a blog post. But now that other meaningful activities take up my brain’s attention, the time it takes to come up with a blog post has increased drastically. By the time I have a good idea, I don’t even have the energy to write it down. It’s going to take time. And that’s OK.

  3. I have high expectations of myself. I work a lot. I teach about an hour away from where I live. I study and prepare for my weekly homework and for my teaching practicum. And I still expect myself to whip out a blog post for the whole world to see. The way my life is set up right now, that’s not going to happen. I’m going to have to take breaks. I’m going to have to learn my boundaries. I’m going to have to make my posts a bit shorter ūüėõ And, you know what? That’s OK too.

I’m human, and I’m figuring it out. I put so many responsibilites on myself that I don’t know what others expect of me. But for now, I’m finding my voice. I’m writing to communicate a message. I’m learning to be patient. I’m learning to be OK with my pace of writing. I’m ready to be used by God through my writing.

As usual, although I’m venting and coordinating my thoughts, I hope that this post encourages you. To all those people who want to write but don’t have the time, energy, or motivation: you can do it. It’s possible. Don’t give up; start small and keep going. To all those people who are writing but feel like they’re writing is going nowhere: don’t stop. Even if only one person reads your insightful blog posts, that’s one person who has been influenced by your work. That is definitely worth it.

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Books

Review: 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life

Like I said in my series about anxiety, this devotional came to me at an appropriate time. ¬†Now, people who know me would say that I am joyful most of the time. ¬†However, I still had my moments where I would get angry and would let depression rule my day. ¬†Right before I ended this past semester of college, I had just experienced joy, and I was learning how to be joyful on a consistent basis. ¬†My friend’s mom came up to me and said, “I think you would really like this devotional.” ¬†Here was a way for me to learn how to sustain my joy!

Based on the book The 4:8 Principle by Tommy Newberry, this devotional emphasizes the importance of controlling our emotions.  Newberry discusses that emotions do not just happen; they are caused by situations and thought pattern, and they ultimately affect our actions.  Each day, Newberry uses ideas from Philippians 4:8 to help his readers change their thought patterns.

The reading for each day is not so short that you are bored, but not so long that you are wondering when it will end.  At the end of each day, Newberry also includes a challenge to help the lesson stick.  He will ask the reader to write a positive statement down or ways that the reader can improve his or her thought patterns.  Some of the activities are a bit redundant, but the repetition of the activities allows for positive habits to form.

Overall, Newberry’s message is that it takes energy and effort to remain joyful in this negative world. ¬†This quotation truly sums up the message of the devotional: “The word¬†emotion¬†is 86%¬†motion.” ¬†In order to be joyful, it takes action, practice, and accountability. ¬†Newberry uses the techniques that he practices on his clients in order to promote credibility in his devotional.

Just like joy, what you put into this devotional is what you will get out of it. ¬†There may be times where you don’t feel like doing the activities at the end, but just fighting through and dedicating fifteen minutes of your day to the activity will help you to feel more joyful on a daily basis.

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Book Update

Just Keep Writing!

That’s what I tell myself every day. ¬†I created this blog not only to give hope to other people through my experiences, but to also experiment with my writing skills. ¬†Since I have started this blog, I am thankful to have had opportunities to write articles for other blogs. ¬†I am experimenting with different writing styles, such as reviews, short stories, and poems. ¬†I also write in my journal every day!

As I’m experimenting, I realize that I will not be posting things every day. ¬†I will try to do the best that I can, but because I do other things besides writing, I will not be able to sit down and write on a daily basis. ¬†But I will continue to have articles of different genres.

If you have any ideas or feedback, please let me know.  Thanks so much again for the support!

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Books

My Take: Decision Making and the Will of God

This past month, I have had the privilege of reading Garry Friesen’s Decision Making and the Will of God. ¬†At this time in my life, I have to make a lot of decisions that could greatly affect my future. ¬†This book came to me at a very opportune time through one of my college professors. ¬†My professor explained that this book has caused great controversy among the Evangelical Christian community. Some people only read the first part of the book, become angry, and then stop reading altogether.

Before beginning my review of this book, I would like to preface this by saying that I only read the second edition of the book.  Apparently, the first edition was more abrupt in its arguments, but in the second edition, Friesen prepares his readers for what he is about to do.

Summary

Decision Making and the Will of God¬†discusses how to make wise decisions in order to follow the will of God. ¬†This sounds like a traditional book that agrees with the view that most Christians have: that God has an individual will for each human being. Friesen starts his first third of the book explaining the traditional view using the example of a college graduate who wants to marry a girl; she is a great girl, but she wants to work in Africa, and the college graduate is not sure if he wants to move to Africa. ¬†The college graduate speaks to a pastor about this issue, and the pastor gives him a lecture on the ways to make decisions according to the traditional view of decision making in the church. ¬†The pastor explains the importance of reading the Bible, seeking wise counsel, and looking for open doors in order to find out God’s will for his life. ¬†Now, Friesen does not seem to disagree with the means of finding out God’s will, and nor do I. However, there is one disagreement that Friesen makes obvious throughout his book: God may have a moral will (what he expects from those who follow him) and a sovereign will (an unknowable plan that affects all of history and beyond), but God does¬†not¬†have an individual will (an individual plan for each person).

Throughout his book, Friesen is very careful to respect the fact that the majority of Christians hold to the view that God has an individual will for each person. ¬†He calls this will “the dot.” ¬†According to Part 2 of his book, the dot does more harm than good. Friesen spends a few chapters discussing the problems with searching for the dot. ¬†When Christians spend all of their energy trying to find this dot, they become discouraged and, even if they make a wise decision, may end up feeling guilt as if they had made the wrong decision.

Instead of waiting on God’s individual will, Friesen suggests using wisdom. ¬†God has given us all that we need to make good decisions, through his word, through his Spirit, through other believers, and through our logic. ¬†In the last section of his book, Friesen includes specific ways that we can use wisdom to discern the will of God in various areas of our lives. ¬†These areas include entering the ministry, dealing with conflicts among believers, and deciding whom to marry.

His conclusion is like cold water on a steaming pan. ¬†He makes sure that he does not offend anyone with his arguments. ¬†As a matter of fact, he states his acceptance of those who agree with the traditional view of the will of God. ¬†In his final paragraphs, he justifies why he published this book, even though he knew it would offend some people. ¬†He gives three reasons: 1) Romans 14 says that we will all have differing opinions, but we must be accepting of each other’s beliefs and use Scripture to determine our own beliefs on certain issues; 2) he does not imply that he has suddenly discovered the truth, but he is convinced that this way of determining the will of God is Biblical; 3) even if Friesen does not convince his readers to agree with him, this book will help to strengthen the traditional view by looking at it from another perspective.

I very much appreciated the layout of the book. ¬†Although it is lengthy (which I did not mind), Friesen summarizes the main points at the end of each chapter. ¬†He is also very aware of the fact that his book may not get good reviews. ¬†He is walking on thin ice by attacking the method that many Evangelical Christians use to discern the will of God. ¬†However, Friesen includes a “Frequently Asked Questions” section at the end of some chapters, so that he can better explain himself.

My Take

Interestingly enough, I had read this book when my pastor was doing a sermon series on decision making. ¬†Knowing that this book probably was going to differ from what my pastor would say, I decided to read them both and then form my own opinion about decision making. ¬†After reading the 423-page book¬†and¬†listening to the seven-week series on decision making, I believe that since God is sovereign, he has a plan for each person in his sovereign will. ¬†If we read the Bible, pray, seek wise counsel, and use our logic, we can determine what steps to take. ¬†However,¬†I think that if we use all of those methods, it is impossible to make a wrong decision. ¬†I’m not saying that we will miraculously know the right way; I’m saying that I don’t think there is a right way or a wrong way.

When I was deciding where to go to college, I used the traditional view to find out where God wanted me to go to school. ¬†I ended up choosing a very nice school based on open doors, talking to other people, and reading the Bible. ¬†However, when I went there, I did not like it. ¬†I was very uncomfortable, and I did not feel close to God. ¬†It was very expensive, and I could not afford it. ¬†After a semester, I decided to transfer. ¬†For a long time, I wondered if God was angry at me for making the wrong decision in choosing that school. ¬†But after reading this book and thinking about it, I don’t think I made the wrong decision. ¬†I don’t think there was a wrong decision. ¬†I believe that God was telling me to go to college, but he gave me the freedom to choose where to go. ¬†Then, when I was not comfortable, he gave me the freedom to choose a different school. ¬†In both cases, God blessed me; even if I had stayed at my first school, I know that God would have been fine with my decision. ¬†There are some people who sit around and wait for God to light up the sky and tell them what he wants them to do. ¬†I do not deny that God does that sometimes. ¬†There is Biblical evidence of God giving “signs” to people who are seeking his will. ¬†However, I also believe that sometimes God calls us to choose.

One thing I would add to Friesen’s argument is the extra emphasis of faith. ¬†As much as I agree that we have the freedom to choose our lives (as long as we pray, read the Bible, etc.), I also believe that there is an element of faith in each decision. ¬†We may use our logic to choose a job, but it may be a better decision to pick a job that pays less than to take the job that has an aggravating boss. ¬†In that case, we would trust God to provide financially. ¬†Even though our logic may say “Go for the job that pays more” or “Go for the job that makes you more comfortable,” God may sometimes prompt us to go places that are not comfortable.

As I’m making decisions, I will not ignore the importance of using wisdom. ¬†There will be leaps of faith involved, but I believe that God has given me the logic that I need to make a decision that honors him. ¬†I am thankful that Gary Friesen has published this book; now I have a different perspective on decision making.