Writing a book could change your life… but not in the way you might think.

SarahThis week’s guest blogger is Joanne Gilchrist author of our latest new title Looking For Love

I started to write a book because I thought I had something to say. When I submitted it to Malcolm Down Publishing it was because I thought I had a finished product that was ready to be published. But it seems that God had a different idea.

Twice in my life I’ve encountered authors who have gone through the exact same experiences that they were writing about. One was writing about ‘living by faith’ in terms of finances and at the time everything seemed to go pear-shaped in their own finances – the result was a penultimate chapter called ‘What do to when it all goes wrong’. The other friend was writing about overcoming challenges and living the victorious life. He found out he had skin cancer and continued to write all through his treatment until he was cancer free. He told me he believed there would be an anointing on the book because of that.

At first, I was not very impressed when I submitted my darling, precious, ‘perfect-in-my-eyes’ manuscript to a publisher only to be told that they thought something was missing. They were right, of course, and all I could think was ‘Typical!’ At the time, there were a lot of significant issues in my life that God wanted me to deal with but I was doing a good job of ignoring Him. To be honest, I was content to struggle on through life, ignoring the issues and living with the pain – because facing it could be even more painful.

So I smiled because I thought – ‘It is just like God to do something like this!’ To provide for me that extra motivation to deal with my stuff, confront my pain and sort my life out. It wasn’t enough for me to face this stuff for my own sake, I needed nothing short of a potential publishing deal to motivate me!

Have you heard the story of the dog who sat yapping in his front yard till someone asked his owner ‘What’s up with your dog?’ and the owner said ‘He’s sitting on a rusty nail.’ The first guy asks, ‘Why doesn’t he just move?’ and the owner replied, ‘It doesn’t hurt that much.’ Sometimes we can be so stubborn or lazy or fearful or … whatever… that we put up with pain instead of finding a way to move on. But when we find the courage to do something about it, we realise it is possible.

For me, what followed was 8 months of ‘author coaching’/counselling and at the end, some re-writing. It was brilliant and painful and tiring and restful and strange and wonderful all at the same time. And it totally transformed me from the desperately sad place I was in at the start. My counsellor, Sarah Grace, would say ‘even if it wasn’t for the book, going through this process will turn out to be so worthwhile!’ It took a long time before I believed her. At first I thought ‘Yeah right! If it wasn’t for the book, there’s no way I’d be going through this.’ But by the end I completely agreed. Even if I didn’t have a book to show for it, the transformed life I will now live was well worth facing my pain and learning how to work through it and move on.

Towards the end of the 8 months, I looked back and saw something fascinating. I realised that God was taking me through very similar lessons that I had already written about in my manuscript – Looking for Love. I had written about the desperation of being single and wanting a husband and the process God took me through to see marriage as He sees it, to rely on Him as my Source and enjoy the gift a relationship brings without it being the crowning achievement in life. Now I found the same principles applied to my life in a different way. The first time around, in Looking for Love, God brought me to place where I could trust Jesus the friend and lover and Lord with my heart, my relationships and any future possible marriage. This time I needed to learn to trust God the Father with my life’s purpose and meaning and with my work, my time, the ‘stuff that I do’ while the kids are at school. Each time, it was about trusting God to take care of my needs and dealing with all the blockages in my life that were causing me to doubt that.

I don’t know that every writer has had or will have the same kind of experience as I did. But I do hope that what my old author friend told me was true – that as a result of living through what I was writing, Looking for Love will have a bigger impact on people’s lives than if I had ignored my publisher and stubbornly sat on my rusty nail.

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It’s a God Thing!

This week our guest blogger is Keith Gentry, author of Good Choices

I frequently hear the phrase, ‘it’s a God thing.’

‘It’s a God thing’ could be attributed to a modern saying when we are not totally sure if a miracle has occurred. Especially when compared to that of the parting of the Red Sea; a miracle which was an extraordinary, inexplicable event that defies natural or scientific laws. Yet we know God was in it – all the way.

Have you ever considered the gestures of goodwill that are sometimes bestowed on individuals? The provision of a meal when the fridge is empty; a lift to an interview when there is no alternative; prayers when someone is facing a health issue current health issue. These are everyday acts of kindness and generosity. However, Jesus is right in the midst of these loving gestures and prayer of faith.

I have recently been studying the book of Esther. Surprisingly, the words ‘Jehovah’, ‘Lord’, ‘God’ and ‘prayer’ are never written within the text, and what is more, the New Testament never refers to the book of Esther. Many theologians suggest that the text is taken from a Persian government record and found its way into the Bible. However, throughout the meandering verses there is a spiritual parable about a young girl who represents the church preparing to be purified for her bridegroom.

After Esther was left behind following the captivity of the Persian Empire, Mordecai acted as her father – taking on the responsibility of looking after the fatherless. God was with this young, orphaned, Jewish girl, every step of the way. Esther was bold, confident. She visited the king without an invitation, and took advice from Mordecai, who said, ‘And who knows if you may have attained royal position for such a time as this?’.

In simple terms, we are all chosen to be used by God so that he can do ‘his thing’ in any way he chooses.

Going beyond one’s means, giving from one’s heart, empowering people to go beyond the normal in what they see, and walking in the will of God to be part of a God thing. This is my will to you all: allow God to do his thing in you and by you.

Good Choices is now available from all good bookstores and internet re-sellers.

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Almost exactly 21 ½ years old

This week we feature the second guest blog from author Emily Owen…

Pardon? What?

If it were possible to wear words out through overuse, I would have single-handedly rendered these two extinct.

But until I was almost exactly 21 ½ years old, I rarely said “What?”

Or “Pardon?”

In fact, they may have been in danger of extinction through lack of use.

The hearing in my right ear was perfect so, despite being deaf in my left, as long as I positioned myself correctly I could hear a proverbial pin drop.

And I was expert at positioning myself correctly.

I had to be, my innate nosiness demanded that I didn’t miss a thing.

Then, when I was almost exactly 21 ½ years old, “What?” and ”Pardon?” became my mantra.

Due to a condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 2, I lost all my hearing. In my case (though not necessarily typically), overnight.

A benign tumour pressing on my auditory nerve had to be surgically removed.

When it left, silence moved in.

Slightly unexpectedly for me, when the tumour left it was accompanied by my confidence. I’d anticipated that I’d struggle, just not how much.

I didn’t want to leave the house.

I didn’t want to see friends.

I just wanted to hide from the sounds I couldn’t hear.

Gradually, very gradually, confidence decided to move back in.

One step at a time.

I was brave enough to leave the house.

I began to see friends.

I began to meet stranger’s eyes as I passed them, rather than pointedly stare at the pavement.

The day I not only met their eyes but said “Good Morning” to someone as we walked our dogs in the park was a momentous day indeed. And yes, I did hurry on so there would be no follow up chat – one step at a time…

It was not long before my two-word mantra grew. What and Pardon were joined by “No.”

Friends began to say, “you should write your Autobiography.”

I laughed. Apart from anything else, who would want to read it?!

“No.”

Then strangers began to say, “you should write your story.”

I didn’t laugh then. Outwardly, anyway. I was politer with strangers than I was with friends.

Still: ”No.”

I did begin writing.

Just not writing about me.

And that’s how I liked it.

Publishers suggested I write my story.

“No.”

I started speaking to groups about my story, many of whom suggested I write the book.

“No.” No, no, no, no, no.

But, in the end, beginning to lose count, I thought: ‘how many no’s does it take to make a yes?’

And I realised it was the exact number of no’s I’d said.

So, albeit reluctantly, I made a yes.

And I began to write my story so far.

If you want a synopsis well, I guess you’ve just read it.

If you’d like to know more, I’d be honoured if you read the book. I promise it’s not simply a more detailed description of the momentous day I walked my dog in the park (although, thinking about it, perhaps it could have been: Jasper was a very special dog).

My memoir is called: ‘Still Emily – Seeing rainbows in the silence’.

Life changed that day when I was almost exactly 21 ½ years old.

I didn’t only lose my hearing and my confidence.

I lost myself.

I lost who I was.

Eventually, through pain-full times, I came to realise that I was still there.

Still Emily will be published on May 11th 2016.

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Book launch in Leicester – everyone welcome! Details here.

Check out Emily’s promotional video here