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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Fixed Lives

Fixed Lives tells the story of 13 people who were once caught in the cycle of addiction but who now are transformed. The stories are often shocking, always intriguing but fundamentally heart-warming.

Popular speaker and author J.John says, “To read this book is to come face to face perhaps uncomfortably with a lively, vigorous, full-strength faith in Christ: a religion of power, miracles and changed lives”.

Barry Woodward is one of those featured in the book. Barry was a heroin addict for 15 years. In 1996 a sequence of extraordinary events changed his life forever.

Barry founded a charity called Proclaim Trust. In 2013 Proclaim Trust hosted the very first Fixed conference. The conference was geared towards addicts, ex-addicts, recovering addicts and those with a heart for addicts. Among the hundreds who attended from all over the UK was Adelle Howells.

So often throughout Fixed Lives one is left with a feeling of hopelessness – how on earth could any of those people recounting their life stories ever hope to find a way out? The remarkable thing is that they all did. Adelle tells her story from when she listened to Barry speaking at that first ever Fixed conference…

“Before I knew it Barry was at the end of his talk, and then he invited people to say a prayer. Inside I was shaking: my emotions were all over the place. I needed to do this! Then Barry invited those who had said the prayer for the first time to come to the front. I flew from my seat and straight to the front. It was then that I felt the guilt that I’d lived with for years just lift straight off me. I was so relieved, and then I was filled with this amazing feeling of love. I’d been searching for that feeling of love all my life.”

Why not watch Adelle here.

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By Fixed Lives here or from your favourite bookstore or internet site.

First time blogger

I have a confession. Despite being a publisher I am neither a writer nor editor. My journey into publishing was unconventional to say the least. A sports science degree does not normally lead one into the literary world but here I am nevertheless. For over 20 years I worked for someone else. I dutifully turned up for work (almost on time) every day, hardly ever took any time off sick, often worked extra hours and took on anything that was offered to me in the hope that I would become too valuable to lose. And guess what? I was made redundant. For the first time in my life at the age of 53 I was (quite literally) shown the door and put unceremoniously on garden leave (not that I had much of a garden to attend to!).

So what was I to do.

In times like this I normally do three things; pray, reflect and run sometimes all at the same time. In these moments a path was illuminated before me. Not all at once but gradually step by step from flickering candelight to ever ready torchlight my heavenly Dad showed me a way forward just like my earthly Dad did when I was a child.

So here I am a year later. The director, of a publishing company which I wholly own having, with the help of my very able publishing assistant Sarah, published 15 books to date with several more in the pipeline. Are we making a living? Barely, but that’s not the point. For the first time in my life I’m free. Free to make my own decisions but also completely responsible for everything we do. It’s a scary journey  over some pretty rough terrain but so worth it…