New Location

Hi faithful followers and fellow bloggers! I see that some of you are still visiting this location to read my blogs. That’s great, but there’s just one thing. I’ve moved. My new location where I have been and will continue to post new articles is http://www.brianagwhitaker.com. Please come on over, subscribe, and continue (prayerfully) to be encouraged and inspired. ¬†I look forward to visiting with you there! ūüôā

KISSING– A Crucial Component of Christian Publishing

no kissing

Before your mind travels to the gutter, let me tell you that this post is not about kissing in the traditional sense. It’s¬†about publishing and what to do after your book has emerged from the printing press–when the hard work of writing it has ended and the even harder work of promoting it has begun. What? Did you think you could sit back, relax, and watch your book sales rise without work? Sorry to burst your bubble, my friend, but that ain’t happenin’–not in the indie publishing world anyway. So the tip I will share with you today is essential, especially for the Christian writer. It is summed up in this acronym… KISS–Keep It Spiritual Sweetie!

Now, what do I mean by keeping it spiritual? If you are a Christian writer, your content will already be based on spiritual principles (let’s hope so anyway). But I’m talking about ways in which your content will reach the masses. So beyond the book’s spiritual content there are spiritual¬†things you can do to spread the Good News of Christ and at the same time experience publishing success. Here’s what I did and am doing to “keep it spiritual” in my publishing journey.

1. Dedicate the book.¬†My launch party and book signing wasn’t an ordinary book launch and signing. It was a ceremony, so to speak. I had the food, the music, and the books, but I also had prayer, a theme scripture, and an occasion read because¬†I wanted everyone in attendance to know that this was both a celebration for what God had done in my life and an official send off of my book baby into the world to be used by God to bless lives. Most importantly, I used this moment to have my book baby dedicated back unto the Lord, much like new parents do with their children. The Biblical figure, Hannah, also did this when she bore Samuel.

They first butchered the bull, then brought the child to Eli. Hannah said, “Excuse me, sir. Would you believe that I’m the very woman who was standing before you at this very spot, praying to God? I prayed for this child, and God gave me what I asked for. And now I have dedicated him to God. He’s dedicated to God for life. Then and there, they worshiped God.           (1 Samuel 1:25-26 Message)

Like Hannah, I prayed that God would help me write this book, and He gave me what I asked for. Dedicating it back to Him was just the right and spiritual thing to do. I did this by asking my Pastor and Elect Lady (Pastor’s wife) to say a special prayer over the book for its success at the launch party. As he prayed he held it in His hands. I believe that the prayers and the anointed touch of the man and woman of God have hugely impacted the success of my book. Instead of it being just another interesting read, it is actually changing mindsets and thus changing lives. That’s not because of me. It’s because of the anointing, and I don’t want anything I do to be void of God’s anointing. It makes all the difference in Heaven and on Earth.

2. Pray that God would touch the hearts of potential buyers.¬†I’m not the best salesman there is. Sometimes it’s challenging to talk to people about a product in a way that will convince them to buy it. Add to the equation that it is your own product, and you’ve got an even bigger challenge because it’s almost like selling yourself. I admit that the ability to sell yourself is a good quality to have, but what has compensated for my lack of skills in that area is prayer. My prayer is that God would draw the buyers and supporters in and that the book would sell itself without any gimmicks. Although I have tried to use free giveaways to appeal to my audience, I’ve learned that if someone is going to invest in a meaningful product they will do it despite any additional add-ons because it’s in their heart to do so. How do I know that the Lord has the ability to influence the heart’s of men and women? Because He said so in His Word.

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it¬†whithersoever he will. (Proverbs 21:1 KJV)

After all, it’s not about me as the messenger, it’s about the message, so whomever needs to hear it will hear it in God’s time and in His way.

3. Trust Him to provide opportunities. 

For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. (Psalms 75:6 KJV)

Remembering that promotion comes from above has helped me to put things in the proper perspective. Being in business for yourself requires a lot of commitment and time. Time that in some cases I do not have with all of the other responsibilities on my plate like my job, ministry work, and my family. To keep from neglecting those responsibilities, I have to trust God to provide opportunities for me to promote my book. I could pursue each and every opportunity that I can find, but it would be at the cost of something else really important in many instances. If God is responsible for your promotion, then you don’t have to worry. He will NOT disappoint or fall short on His job. He will make every opportunity that you do take advantage of benefit you far more than the ones you pursue on your own while neglecting your other obligations in the process. Yeah, that means you may have to turn some events down when there’s a scheduling conflict in favor of things that are higher in priority, but this is a sign of your trust in God’s ability to put you in the right path, at the right time, with the right people. God’s opportunities are always golden opportunities!

Discover Your Sweetie’s Personality Style–Part 4

High C

Learning about others is important, but learning about yourself is priceless. So I’ve been enlightened,¬†to say the least, in discovering my own personality style, which is High C. I’d like to think we High C’s are pretty unique in our nature. If you know me, you might say I’m a bit quirky also, but how boring would this world be if we were all the same, right? To be classed with the likes of Bill Gates and Albert Einstein is pretty awesome. If I had Bill Gates’ fortune and Einstein’s genius I’d be¬†good to go. I don’t know how I feel about being classed with Condi though. I’ve always seen her as kind of stuffy and a bit of a prude. I’m not like that. Am I? (I wish you could see my eyes darting back and forth as I ponder this).

Words that describe us are cautious, competent, conscientious, contemplative, careful, and calculating. We have a tendency to be curious, inventive, intellectual and rational. We like to finish what we start. We can also be perfectionists, prone to liking organization and routine, and can have difficulty making decisions. Everything on this list describes me to a tee, except the organization part. l like organization, but I am not an organized person. Is that even possible? One ride in my car will reveal that it is.

As for what motivates us, our secret fuel is quality answers, good value, and being right. Now let me explain the last one. I don’t always have to be right (but it does feel good when I am), but I like doing the right thing. It is also important to me that anything I’m involved in be right as in morally, ethically, and legally proper. By nature, I’m not a rule breaker. Nor am I perfect by a long shot, but I do try to stay safely in the parameters that are provided me by those who are in charge. Also know that if we don’t get our way, we become critical and our character flaw is analysis paralysis. Here’s what you can do to help your High C significant other.

1. Provide quality answers to our questions.¬†Men, women in general like to talk and pick your brains about things, but this habit is amplified in a High C woman. You will have to oblige us if you want to keep the peace and avoid the rant. Case in point…my husband was upset with me once for being late for an engagement, and I didn’t even realize it. I like to do things right, but the area of punctuality needs improvement. Anyway, he didn’t want to tell me what I had done to upset him, so when I asked him what was wrong his response was “nothing.” I could tell by the way he was ignoring me that he was lying, and I was not satisfied. So, I kept asking until I got tired. We had to come up with a compromise for future disagreements that if he did not want to talk at the moment, he had to promise that we’d talk later. That, I could live with.

2. Encourage us to see the big picture. High C’s get stuck in the details, asking tons of questions about the process before beginning anything. Hence, analysis paralysis. I went through a brief period before I finished writing my book that I contemplated all the details: who would publish, how would I pay for it, when would it be done, what if people don’t like it? Yada yada yada. Someone encouraged me to push past the fear and step out on faith. I did, and everything just fell into place. I’m so thankful for those who help me move forward, and your High C will be too.

3. Provide gentle correction.¬†Gentle correction is all we need to get us back on track. It’s probably because we like to do things right anyway. When I was little my mom never had to do much scolding. I can count on one hand how many spankings I got as a child. A hard look or a good talking to always did the trick. So, no need for harsh words or criticism. The High C in your life will appreciate the gentle correction and take it as love.

4. Value our attention to detail and tasks. Details are important because they are the building blocks of everything. Us high C’s want everything we’re involved in to go off without a hitch, so we spend time attending to the construction of those blocks. If you’ve ever attended a well organized event that flowed, you’d better believe there was a High C on the planning committee. The level of quality that comes from careful planning and a desire for excellence should be appreciated, not regarded as anal. Tell him or her how much you appreciate it.

5. Encourage empathy.¬†Excessive attention to details can, in some cases, cause one to be insensitive to the needs of others. High C’s sometimes need to be reminded about people when we get stuck in our focus bubbles. My husband gives me a sensitivity check just when I need it. He knows me so well.

6. Recognize our need for routine and guidelines.¬†High C’s need order in our lives. When order is missing, it just does something to us. We like to know where we’re going and how to get there. Again, it’s all about those details. As for date suggestions, let your High C be a part of the planning. Don’t keep her completely in the dark about the plans. If she’s like me, she won’t be able to handle a complete surprise. For example allow her to give you three suggestions of things she’d like to do. Then you choose one of the three ideas. You already know she’ll be happy because it was her idea and because she feels some level of control and order.

Now, it’s important to note that not everyone is limited to one personality style. We are all blends of personalities. I can see myself fitting in with different aspects of the other personality styles also, but make no mistake I am a High C and proud of it! If you are a High C right along with me, feel free to let me know if I nailed it or NOT. I’d also like to know if this information has helped to enlighten or inspire you in your relationships. I welcome your comments.

For Those Who’ve Considered Publishing But Don’t Know Where to Start

Writing well is a learned skill and so is pubsharpen skillslishing well. Any one with a word processor and a high school diploma can write a book. And if one’s goal is merely to get a story down on paper or to simply say “I wrote a book” that’s fine. But if you really desire to make a mark in the writing and publishing industry¬†one cannot stop there. Much more work needs to be involved.

Recently I was privileged to be a part of my county’s local author fair along with several other local authors. There were lots of people who came by to support the authors they knew personally or heard about, but there were also quite a few people there who came to pick our brains about our process in becoming authors, which is what any person seriously interested in writing and publishing should do. After having a few days to ponder and reflect on my experience in the years and months leading up to my official “coming out” as the author of an actual book, I’ve narrowed down my advice to four basic writing manners that matter. Enjoy and feel free to add more to the list.

1. Endeavor to perfect your craft.¬†I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. My 4th grade teacher praised my writing abilities and told my mother to buy me a journal and encourage me to use it. I’ve also been a print journalist in the U.S. Army Reserves, writing articles about military life. I’ve worked as a middle school ELA teacher, modeling for students how to effectively express themselves through words. I’ve been a part of several writing workshops and have taken writing classes. I’ve written for my church newsletter. In 2011 I started an online blog at the suggestion of a friend. Needless to say, I’ve had numerous writing opportunities in my life, and they have all helped to make me a better writer. I truly believe that in¬†order to become a better writer one must write, and write, and write some more. Writing practice helps you to refine and define your unique voice. So, take a writing class, start a blog, or buy a nice journal and write until you’ve got something worth sharing with the world.

2. Make the best presentation you possible can.¬†We women and many men too will spend hundreds of dollars without even blinking an eye to make a good impression with their outer appearance. By the time we get our hair, nails, and makeup done and bought the perfect outfit and shoes, the bank is most likely broken. But if it is the right occasion, we don’t mind much. Well, publishing a book is a pretty special occasion. Actually, it’s an uber special occasion, and the time to go all out with to present your best product to the world. After all, your writing is a reflection of you, so don’t skimp on quality. Plus, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This can determine if anyone will want to read anything else you publish in the future.¬†Here’s where I think the most time should be spent after the piece has been written: revision and editing by a professional. It can be a little intimidating to have someone take a fine toothed comb to your writing, but don’t be afraid of the feedback. I would rather have someone pinch my feelings a little before the book comes out than to be slapped in the face by a bad review post printing. It is so worth the time and the money to have this step completed.

3. For goodness sake, READ.¬†Just as writing more helps to improve writing, reading more does wonders. Reading what other good writers have written gives us access to lovely language, wonderful word usage, fancy phrasing, extraOrdinary organization ideas, and stylistic sentence structure (you get my point.) This is habit that I admit I need to increase. Contrary to what some may believe, reading more is not a waste of time. It is an absolute necessity for continued growth as a writer. So find something that you are interested in reading and read. As you read, pay attention to more than just how the writing makes you feel. Notice how the writer is creating this affect. It may help to put yourself in the writer’s shoes to really think about what strategies he or she is using. This can be a very complex skill, so taking a class or two in in close reading can also be beneficial.

4. Look for writing ideas everywhere.¬†Now that I’ve published my first book I want to keep my writing momentum going so I’ve been writing more often than before. It is easy to run out of good things to write about when you write so often, which is why it is important to keep your eyes open (and read). I actually have “find a new writing topic” in my brain whenever I do anything now. So that means I’m constantly writing in my head and when something clicks I grab my phone to add the idea to my notes before I forget it. I may not end up using all of it, but at least I develop a bank of topics to pull from in the future. Eventually all of those scattered ideas may develop into a connecting of the dots experience. Before you know it, you’ve got enough material for a book.

5. Invest in your success.¬†As the saying goes, to make money you have to spend money. I’m not suggesting that anyone spend an insane amount of money on publishing a book, but I am saying that a serious writer should be willing to make an investment that would yield a quality product. When I say quality product I’m referring to the look and feel of your book–in other words the very first thing that people see–the cover. If your cover is boring no one other than your close family, friends, and people who know of you and think it’s kind of cool to know a real author will want to read it. It’s cover appeal. I am convinced that though there are those who have lots of valuable content inside the book, some won’t get to engage with or benefit from that content if they are turned off by the cover. I’m not expert, but my suggestion would be to add an experienced graphic designer to your team. You’d be surprised at the quality you can get for not much more money than you’d pay doing it on your own or with the neighbor down the street who owns a digital camera. It’s okay to go cheaper on supplementary materials like book marks and other what nots, but not on your main product. Again, you want to showcase the best presentation of yourself and your work. You’ve worked too long and hard not to.

 

3 Reasons Women Like to Be in Control

I like to be in conwoman-in-controltrol just as much as the next woman. Blame it on my upbringing. I grew up an only child and always liked having my way. Or blame it on the fact that I married in my 30’s after doing things my way for so long. Blame it on my unregenerated flesh that fights every day to have its way. No matter what is to blame though, I have to admit that trying to be in control in my relationship has put me in uncomfortable positions a few times because well, that’s not my position according to God’s plan for marriage.

I know, I know. Not everyone agrees that a woman should submit to her husband. Besides, we have the ability and intelligence to make our own decisions. But I have to qualify any further comments by saying that the guidelines by which I order my life (the Word of God) say otherwise.

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Ephesians. 5:22

In my almost four year marriage I’ve learned that the need for control is counterproductive to my relationship. I don’t know about you, but I need my marriage to be productive in every way, which is why I’m willing to work on me and allow the Holy Spirit to do His thing in my life. Here are the reasons I think women (myself included) like to be in control and why we should let that attitude go in our marriages.

1. We believe that if we want something done right we’ve got to do it ourselves. Sometimes women lack confidence in others, especially when their track record has proven to be sub-par. I’ve seen many powerful and influential women who instead of delegating responsibility to others in a task, will take on all of the responsibility themselves or micromanage the entire process to ensure that it’s done the right way–or their way. I’m guilty of this too. In my ten years of being in a leadership position in my church I’ve discovered the error of my ways. Hoarding all the responsibility is a sign of distrust. We are saying, although unintentionally, that “I don’t trust that you will get the job done correctly, so I will do it instead.” Well, my sister, in a relationship, that can communicate a message that you may not want to communicate: ¬†“I don’t need you.” A man needs to feel needed or he will search for a place where he is needed and valued. I ask you, if you never give your man an opportunity to rise to the occasion and be the leader he has been called to be in your home, how can you not expect him to fall into mediocrity? If you do his job because you think he is doing it incorrectly, what is he supposed to do? My guess is that the both of you will begin to resent the other. To combat this we need to raise our expectations.

This makes me think about the teaching profession. According to educational theory, a teacher’s high expectations for students increases achievement. On the other hand a teacher’s low expectations decreases achievement. I believe the same is true with men. If you raise your expectations for your husband to be the leader of your family, he will work hard to fill that role. However, if you have low expectations and always do everything for him or tell him what to think and what to do all the time, he will never take the initiative to think or act for himself. What’s the point, if you always shut him down? Will he do everything perfectly? No. But neither do you. Allow him to lead and even make mistakes in the process. He will learn what to do differently the next time. I am not saying that we as wives don’t have a voice in our marriage because we most certainly do. But again, there is a right and a wrong way to handle these situations. Here’s what Candace Cameron Bure has to say about the issue.

“My husband is not a dictator. We work together but I don‚Äôt want to dig my heels in and I have no aspirations to be the ruler of my family. We are two equal people but I love my husband and I want him to lead. With big picture issues such as where we live or what schools the kids attend, if he feels strongly about something and I think our family would benefit from it, I am going to share my thoughts. But ultimately, I trust that my husband has our family‚Äôs best interests at heart, so I wouldn‚Äôt fight him on that. And when I feel strongly about something, he agrees with me. It goes both ways.”

2. We are convinced that we are right and our ideas are the best. It is true that men and women think differently, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. So what if he drives a mile further than you would have if you were driving? The important thing is arriving at your destination, right? Don’t get me wrong sometimes our ideas really are good ideas, but that doesn’t mean that your ideas are the only ideas or your way is the only way. And get this, your right way may be the wrong thing to do at that particular time. Sometimes we just have to bite our tongues and wait it out for a more appropriate time to express our grand ideas and opinions. But I find that to be true in situations outside the home too. You wouldn’t challenge your boss about a new initiative as he or she is presenting it to the company, would you? Depending on the type of boss you have, he or she may not take too kindly to insubordination. Your boss might appreciate you giving your helpful feedback in a less challenging way, like in private and given as a suggestion not a mandate. Even if your boss chooses not to accept your ideas at this time, they have been heard. And as the leader he or she knows in which direction the company should go. Should the bosses ideas turn out to be a wash, you don’t have to worry because you are not the one being held accountable for the success or failure of the project. It takes a load of pressure off of me to know that as the wife, God is not holding me accountable to lead my family. That responsibility belongs to my husband. What He is holding me accountable for is to help my family get where we need to go under my husband’s leadership.

3. We are used to being independent and in control. That I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.T spirit has run rampant among the female population. At 25 years of age I bought my first house. I owned my own car, and I had job to support myself financially. I didn’t need a man to do those things for me. But that was then and this is now, and nobody forced me down that aisle. I went willingly. So now that I am married I do need and depend on my husband because we are ONE! That is God’s design for marriage. Two people coming together as one. How can we be one if we are divided against each other? If we can’t let down our guards and be vulnerable with our own husbands who can we be vulnerable with? An inability or unwillingness to be vulnerable with your spouse may be a symptom of a deeper issue. But I digress. Independence has no place in a marriage relationship. If it’s independence you want, then stay single. When you are married, your life is not your own anymore. It is shared with another, and every decision you make affects the entire family. If you think about it, when you are saved, your life is not your own anymore. You then belong to God, and every decision you make should be made with His approval first and affects others. As I state in my book “Wait on God” …marriage is just an extension of our relationship with Him.

4. We can be too daggum bossy. I really meant to stop at three reasons, but I just had to throw this one in. Assertiveness in a woman can be a good quality. It can also be a really destructive quality, especially when it means pushing an issue too far with your husband in an effort to be in control and prove how right you think you are. That is a recipe for disaster, disfunction, dis-ease, and displeasure. As children of God, we are called to be preservers of peace and not confusion.

“Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and¬†pursue it.” Psalms 34:14

“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with¬†all men.” Romans 12:18

Instead of pursuing to be in control in your home, pursue to live in peace with your man. If you insist on standing your ground in your home this may happen. To the outside world you look like a woman in control–getting attention for your clever arguments and ideas, putting everybody in their place with lots of don’t-mess-with-me attitude–but inside you are an emotional wreck. And giving out orders to be in control is not worth falling out with your husband or worst, ending up divorced.¬†Life may not be perfect, but your peace through Christ can be.

I want to challenge you to join me in learning to relinquish control and think about these things the next time you are faced with the decision to follow your husband’s lead or your own.

 

 

 

 

Wait on God is on Amazon

That feeling when you finally accomplish a goal.

Visit Amazon for a copy of my book Wait on God for only $4.99.

My friend Melissa holding my book.

My friend Melissa holding my book.

Get Busy With Purpose

office_workerI was in the mall today when I ran into a classmate from high school who was working in one of the retail stores. We talked for a few minutes to catch up and then we said goodbye. About an hour later, I pulled up to the gas station and saw her again, but this time she was dressed in a restaurant uniform.

“You’re working two jobs, girl?” I asked out of my car window.

“I actually work three jobs” she said, with a giggle.

“Why are you working so much?” I knew she was single with no children or family to support so I couldn’t understand the need to work so hard. “I’m not trying to give you a hard time or anything, but that’s got to be tiresome.”

“I am tired she said, and my sister fusses at me all the time about working so hard, but ever since my mom died I needed something to keep my mind busy” she admitted.

I was right. It wasn’t about the money. She just needed a distraction from the pain and emptiness she was feeling inside. Knowing that what she actually needed was the healing that only a true relationship with Christ can bring, I asked her what church she attended. As I suspected, she wasn’t regularly attending church because of all her jobs. No wonder she felt empty. Without a continual feeding of the Word of God and time spent in His presence, emptiness will occur in any of us. And what do empty people do? Try to find something, anything to fill their void. Some people use relationships, some people use shopping, some people use illegal substances, and some people use jobs like this young lady. But why not use God.

No, I don’t mean use God in a negative sense, but I mean engaging in the activities that He’s provided for us that give our lives purpose and meaning, like church and ministry service. While I do agree that we need to have a level of productive activity in our lives to keep us from being idle and yes, to keep our minds from dwelling on negative things, I do believe that it should be something purposeful. Instead of giving all of your valuable time and energy to a job that has no eternal reward attached to it, why not invest that time into something that does affect you (and those around you whose lives you were sent here to touch) now and for eternity? Only what you do for Christ shall last. I don’t care how good you are at your natural job, God has an even greater plan for your life beyond what you could think or imagine. And many times that plan is discovered during your service in kingdom through the local church. Most of the things I am gifted at doing were discovered and/or cultivated as a result of working in my church: singing, writing, speaking, teaching, working with children, and even taking pictures. Had I not been connected to my ministry I’m not sure that I would have had the opportunity to grow in so many areas.

Some non-church goers might argue that church attendance and membership is not necessary. I disagree, but don’t take my word for it. God’s word says¬†¬†“Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25 AMP). A benefit to believers is the encouragement we provide to one another–something my classmate could sure use to help her through this difficult time in her life. Another benefit is in discovering God’s purpose for our lives. You could be doing some real good in your daily life, but that doesn’t mean that it is what God preordained and called you to do. A good thing doesn’t equal a God thing. Think about the sons of Sceva in Acts 19:14. They took it upon themselves to do what they saw the apostle Paul doing–casting out evil spirits. Was it a good thing to do? Sure. Paul did it. But was it God’s thing for them to do? Apparently not because at their promptings for the evil spirits to come out of a man, those spirits said “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” (Acts 19:15 KJV) Then they leaped on them, overcame them, and beat them naked. I’d say knowing your specific purpose is paramount.

One purpose that we all share is to win souls for Christ. Doesn’t it makes sense that more souls can be reached through the local church body than through one person working at it alone? The resources of each member pooled together can go much further and have a greater impact on the kingdom of God. You are needed to fulfill God’s will in the earth both as an individual and as a supportive contributor to the local church. So don’t just get busy. Get busy with purpose by being busy about your Father’s business.

 

Based on Chapter 7 of “Wait on God: What Every Single Woman Should Know to Receive God’s Best!” Order your copy at http://www.BrianaGWhitaker.com.

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