StoryCrafters Retreat

Friday October 17 2014 4:59 am | Comments (0) Tags: , ,

Although I’ve written two nonfiction books, I’ve always wanted to write fiction.

I love reading fiction and often come up with ideas for sharing stories from my childhood and the beauty of growing up with a large family in a small town.

Last year I took a six week online class titled “Writing Fiction Like a Pro.”  I loved it! I took one of the story ideas I’ve tossed around in my head for many years. After learning some cool techniques, it flowed into a three-act play structure and then I boiled it down to a raw outline form. I was on my way!

Now I’m ready to take it to the next level.

This weekend I’ll be headed to the Inland Northwest Story Crafters Retreat in Spokane.

I am ready to ignite my career as a novelist!

Susan May Warren is teaching at the 2014 My Book Therapy Storycrafter’s Retreat.

I’m showing up with an idea – and I hope to leave with a story and a everything I need to ignite my journey to publication.

This is a private, intensive retreat with only 16 participants.

It is time to invest in my writing dreams.

I am beside myself excited!

I just finished one of Susan May Warren’s 2014 Christy Award winning novels titled Take a Chance on Me. TakeAChanceOnMe_COV_FINAL-250x381

It is a story of love and forgiveness. I related to so many of the rich and raw characters.

It takes place in the small lakeside town of Deep Haven. I found myself rooting for each character in the Christiansen family as they struggled with relatable issues of grief, anger and unforgiveness.

With each chapter came a new twist in the developing romantic relationships from this beautiful little town in northern Minnesota.

I can’t wait to start another one of Susan’s many novels and learn from her talented writing style. I hope you’ll check out some of her books.

Here is a link to the bibliography of her many books. http://www.susanmaywarren.com/novels/bibliography/

I hope you’ll come back and share some ideas with me as I formulate the story lines for the series I have in mind.

Have you ever wanted to write a novel?

If so, why not now?

Tell me how I can encourage you in your writing.

Bless you with ideas that flow.

Gigi

#Storyteller

But Then…

Saturday October 4 2014 3:42 pm | Comments (2)

Hey there!

I’ve been praying with a good friend who has a full plate right now. And it isn’t filled with her favorite things. It seems her challenges just keep coming at her, trying to knock her out.

This appears to be the case for many people across the world. There is much uncertainty and fear with terrorism, political upheaval, health scares and personal dilemmas happening every day.

Sometimes it is hard to see God’s work in the middle of our struggles. If often takes a shift in our perspective.

I wanted to reassure my friend that she was not alone in her troubles, so I searched God’s Word and found an encouraging verse in Psalm 77.

Psalm 77 Comfort in Times of Trouble (NLV)

1 I cry out to God; yes, I shout. Oh, that God would listen to me! 2 When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord. All night long I prayed, with hands lifted toward heaven, but my soul was not comforted. 3 I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help.

4 You don’t let me sleep. I am too distressed even to pray! 5 I think of the good old days, long since ended, 6 when my nights were filled with joyful songs. I search my soul and ponder the difference now. 7 Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? 8 Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? 9 Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion?

10 And I said, “This is my fate; the Most High has turned his hand against me.”

11 But then I recall all you have done, O Lord; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. 12 They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works. 13 O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as mighty as you? 14 You are the God of great wonders! You demonstrate your awesome power among the nations.

I’ve had those sleepless nights where I found no comfort in my soul.

I’ve been overwhelmed as I long to see tangible evidence of God’s work.

I wonder if my sin is too great for God’s redemptive work.

But then, I take my eyes of myself and my problems and turn them toward heaven.

I begin to recall the way God has performed wonderful deeds in my life.

I keep a gratitude list in my journal where I can go to be reminded of His power. Here is a short list that is part of an ever growing inventory of evidence of God’s faithfulness in my life.

Although the Lord did not heal my dad of lung cancer, several years earlier he was cured of thyroid and kidney cancer. This extension of my dad’s life allowed my sisters Judy and Patti to join our family during that time. After Dad died, God was a father to my family. He was a comfort to my widowed mom. He also gave mercy and grace to many people who stepped forward to help my family heal.

He healed my nephew Greg from a devastating neck injury when he was in high school. Greg celebrated his forty-third birthday last week.

When I was wondering how we would successfully raise our physically challenged son, Gabe, God brought me Diane Newman who took my hand and placed it in Jesus’ hand as she reminded me that He would lead the way in everything that concerned me. He surrounded us with incredible people who showed us the way.

After I finally admitted how much I was struggling with depression, He gave me an honest friend to point the way to the help I needed. I was able to understand the root causes and gained the tools to move forward. Not only was I healed physically and emotionally, but I drew closer to God in my spiritual walk.

You are the God of great wonders!

In the midst of our trouble, it can be easy to lose our focus. That’s when it is nice to have a friend who will remind us, “Hey, it’s going to get better. Stand strong. I know it feels horrible now, but then it will get better.”

If you are struggling today, take a moment to remind yourself of the wonderful things God has done in the past. It helps you remember He is with you always.

Tell me how I can pray for you today.

Gigi

God Will Help You Stand Tall Through It All

Sunday September 14 2014 7:04 pm | Comments (0) Tags: , ,

Hey Friend,

I know you’ve had some hard days this summer. We all do.

So today I want to encourage you with a recommendation for a book that will surely help make your days brighter.

I met the author, Holley Gerth, several years ago when she represented DaySprings during a workshop at our Northwest Christian Writer’s Association Conference. I immediately connected with Holley’s grace-filled personality, her precious southern accent and her winning smile.

Over the years I’ve watched her grow into a best-selling author who writes life changing books. I love her writing style. She speaks to the deepest places of my heart.

As a life coach, Holley brings real issues into each book and presents an uplifting strategy to nourish your soul. I’ve given several of her books as gifts to friends who needed a boost.

Holley’s latest book, What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days – 52 Encouraging Truths to Hold On To, is definitely on my gift idea list for the coming Christmas season.

What-Your-Heart-Needs-for-the-Hard-Days-Holley-Gerth-698x1024

I was given a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I couldn’t have been happier to offer to read and review this little jewel.

God knew the exact timing of when I might need some encouragement. One devotional after another became my favorite as it spoke directly to my soul that day.

With 52 devotionals, this book can be used for a once weekly study or you can gobble it up in one quick read. I chose to take my time through each entry and study the recommended chapters in the Book of Psalms.

My word for 2014 is STAND.

So naturally one of my favorite devotions in this book is #7 – God Will Help You Stand Tall through It All. It is based on two different Psalms containing the word STAND.

Psalm 20:7-8 7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.

So many times over the last several years I focused on the difficulties before me rather than getting on my knees and asking the Lord to help me rise up and stand firm. When my perspective was off, it was easy to have false beliefs that prevented me from acting upon what God was calling me to do. Even when He was showing me to stand up for myself, I didn’t believe I could.

When I finally fell to my knees and cried out for help, He put in place the help that was there all along. There were people ready to reach out and help me stand tall again.

Psalm 40: 1-2 I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Last April and May, I spent six weeks of intense counseling during my stay at The Center – A Place of Hope. There I found help for areas where I’d struggled for years. In dealing with my “stuff,” my new friends and counselors were able to point me to a whole body approach to healing.

I had the courage to stand and ask for help when trying to do it on my own didn’t work.

I moved from insecurity and discouragement to stand for the healthy family relationships God has called us to.

The Lord indeed heard my cry. He lifted me out of a dark place. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Holley’s uplifting book has been a great reminder how God has just what we need for those hard days. I hope you’ll order a copy for yourself and another for a friend.

Bless you today with what your heart needs for the hard days.

Gigi

*****

When you buy Holley’s books from Givingtons, a percentage will go to Saving Grace,  the organization God used to connect her with her 21 year-old adopted daughter.

There’s a link to Givingtons below each book on the link to Holley’s website.

It Started at a Disney Movie

Hello Friend!

I hope the summer finds you enjoying the warm weather and making family memories.

It has been beautiful here in the Seattle area and I savor each day. As a matter of fact, I write this from my back-yard deck surrounded by hundred-foot cedar trees as the sunlight dances through their branches. It’s a little slice of heaven!

I’ve been praying about how to share what’s been happening in my world.

There is so much to tell of my journey to healing. It is hard to decide where to begin.

I’ll start with a story of what happened last fall, when I saw the movie Saving Mr. Banks starring Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks.

It is a delightful story about the making of the Disney movie, Mary Poppins. Here is the movie trailer:

I enjoyed the movie. But when I couldn’t stop crying as the credits rolled, I knew I was in trouble.

I’m not talking quiet tears. I mean shoulder-shaking, heaving sobs.

The kind of crying that makes you wait until the theater clears so you can sneak into the bathroom to get your act together.

The kind of tears that made my son, Gabe, and husband, Steve, look at each other and ask “What do we do now?”

You see, Saving Mr. Banks is all about Mrs. P.L. Travers letting go of the story of her childhood.

It’s about grieving loss and wishing things were vastly different.

It is about finding someone who knows your pain and challenges you to tell the story.

I found myself right in the middle of P.L Travers’ struggle to deal with the loss of her father.

Her birth name is Helen Lyndon Goff. My birth name is also Helen. This tiny fact was eerily coincidental.

Helen Goff arrived too late to her beloved dad’s death bed. That’s when my tears began.

At that moment, I saw me as a curly-headed little girl staring at the fish tank in the lobby of the Veteran’s hospital, wondering what was taking my mom and older siblings so long. They were upstairs visiting my sick dad. I wanted to see my hero, but the hospital had a minimum age of thirteen for allowing visitors. I was only seven.

Early the next morning, the phone rang. My aunt Jo answered and told the caller, “The angels took him home.” I wondered it if was my dad she referred to, but I quickly dismissed the thought.

That afternoon, my mom sent us to the Saturday matinee. The movie showing was none other than, Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins

I came home that afternoon and mom told me dad was dead. The angels took him home. I never got to say goodbye.

I don’t remember crying when my dad died. I learned at a young age to hold my tears. My Nana warned us not to cry so we wouldn’t upset Mom. She had enough to deal with as it is. Ten crying children would only make things worse.

So I learned to stuff my pain behind a smile. I learned to wear a mask.

Then P. L. Travers and Walt Disney taught me that hiding pain is never a good idea.

In the weeks that followed, my counselor helped me make sense of what happened to me at Saving Mr. Banks. She encouraged me to trust that God was showing me the path to healing.

It was time to get help for my pain.

Over the next several months, I came to grips with many things I had stuffed all these years.

It was then I realized I needed professional help. I just couldn’t stop the tears.

Shortly thereafter, I sought help at The Center – A Place of Hope where I worked through years of pain and loss. I cried buckets of tears.

Isn’t it strange how things become clear when we least expect it? How a scene in a movie can trigger years of stuffed emotion?

And so, my healing began at a Disney movie. And I’m so glad I got the help I needed. I feel so much better now.

How about you? Has there been a movie that led you to a healing place? Or a place of revelation about something you hadn’t thought about in years? I hope you’ll share your story.

I continue to pray for whatever is on your heart. May God guide you to a healing place for what’s going on in your world.

Blessings on your day.

Gigi

PS: If you haven’t seen the movie, I hope you take time to rent it this summer.

 

 

 

Better Not Bitter

Wednesday May 21 2014 12:23 pm | Comments (10) Tags: , , ,

Hello Friend!

I’ve been away from my blog on a spiritual retreat and getting help for the depression and anxiety I’ve felt on and off for many years.

It was time for me to face it, rather than deny it.

This is my last week at The Center – A Place of HOPE, where I have received wonderful care from my therapists, doctors, nutritionists and a host of new friends.

A Place of HOPE

The  best care has been given me by the One and Only who is acquainted with my sorrow – Jesus.

I have so much to tell you.

I hope you’ll come back to my blog in the coming days and weeks where I’ll share some of the amazing revelations I’ve had these past six weeks.

I have turned my trials to triumphs.

I have removed bitter roots and I see sprouts of new growth and a better life.

I have examined every area of my life, like peeling an onion layer by layer.

My faith has been tested and has produced the quality of endurance.

I have asked God for help and received answers to long ago prayers.

Suffering and pain got my attention. It got me to listen to God in a way nothing else could.

I have learned that adversity is the greatest teacher.

When I am weak, Christ is made strong.

My faith has been tested. It is precious to God. It is more precious than gold.

I am more dependent upon the Lord as I have learned to face and embrace adversity.

I am allowing the Holy Spirit to develop Christ’s character in me.

I have learned things by the way of suffering.

This testing of my faith has produced endurance. This endurance has produced perseverance.

I have been pruned.

I have been purified.

I have become better instead of bitter.

Better Not Bitter

God’s grace has been my Divine Anesthetic.

I see the promises and blessings He has had for me all along. But the bitterness in my heart clouded my vision.

I can see clearly now, my pride is gone.

My hope and prayer for you, my friend. Is that you will be able to endure your painful trials and process them to effect real change.

May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

Bless you with hope. If you don’t have any today, let me loan you some of mine. It is abundant in my heart this day.

Gigi

Live Free, Write Free

Hi Friend~

Bless you today with sunshine and hope as we enjoy the first few days of spring.

I’ve seen rain, snow and sleet and sun as I traveled across Washington and Idaho into Montana and back again.

This weekend, I’m in Spokane Valley at the Inland Northwest Christian Writer’s Conference.

This morning, I attended the “Live Free, Write Free” session taught by James L. Rubart.

He played a clip from the 1991 film, Defending Your Life written and directed by Albert Brooks. I loved this quote from the movie.

“Fear is like a giant fog that sits on your brain and blocks everything. Real feelings, true happiness, real joy. They can’t get through that fog. But you lift it and buddy you are in for the ride of your life.”

Fear.

The thing that stops us from living free and writing free.

With regard to my writing life, sometimes I fear:

  • I have nothing to say in my writing.
  • No one will read it.
  • It is just no good.

I’ve been dealing with fear all my life.

  • Fear of man.
  • Fear of standing up for myself.
  • Fear of rejection.
  • Fear of disappointing others.
  • Fear of not being good enough.

But God is not the author of my fear. The enemy of my soul wants me to be afraid.

bible-god-quotes-395

Scripture reminds me of this:

2 Timothy 1:6-8  6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Through my friend James L. Rubart, God reminded me today to trust Him to help me live free of fear so I can write free and be who God has called me to be.

Let’s help each other to live free of fear so we can be used by God to bless others.

What fears keep you from living free?

Bless you with power and love and a sound mind. Let’s make this a #NoFearNewYear!

Gigi

 

As the Earth Brings Forth Sprouts

Saturday March 15 2014 11:57 am | Comments (0) Tags: , ,

Hello friend.

How are you doing today?

Praise God I am feeling better than I did on my last blog post.

God has met me in my time of need. His light shines in the dark night of my soul. Oh where would I be without my Jesus?

One of the blessings of the past week has been the sun shining after long, dark and rainy days.

Sun in the clouds

My plants are poking through the ground reminding me that spring is around the corner.

The daffodils are bloomed at the entry to our neighborhood.

Daffodils

The rhodedendrums that bloom early are full of pink flowers.

Pink Rhody

I wonder if the primroses that brighten my planters know how they brighten my spirit?

Primrose

This week I’ve been journaling through a blessing from My Father’s Business. It came to me at the perfect time. I plan to share more about that with you this week.

I have found in my experience that God is never early. He is never late. He meets me at just the right time. He did that this week.

As I write this I am preparing to travel with my son, Gabe.

Sunday morning he will be speaking at a youth group event in Ellensburg, WA.

Monday he will inspire a Christian school.

Right after his assembly, we head to Helena, MT where he will be the keynote speaker at the Montana Association of School Superintendents on Tuesday afternoon.

My heart swells with joy to watch God use Gabe to touch thousands of lives.

Thank You Jesus for lighting my world with the reminder of hope for the way you intend to use my family.

At the end of the week I’m excited to meet my writer friends at the Inland Northwest Writer’s Conference.

Here again, I am reminded of His plan. He has called me to write. Even through my troubled times.

I prayed for you today. I asked that God would shine His light on your life.

I asked Him to help us both remember that He never leaves us or forsakes us.

I praised Him for the Scriptures that remind me that He is sent to bind up my broken heart. Isaiah 61 resonates with me.

The Year of the Lord’s Favor

61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor;he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

4 They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities,  the devastations of many generations.

5 Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers; 6 but you shall be called the priests of the Lord; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations,  and in their glory you shall boast.

7 Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;  instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;  they shall have everlasting joy.

8 For I the Lord love justice;  I hate robbery and wrong;I will faithfully give them their recompense,  and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

9 Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the Lord has blessed.

10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

For whatever you are going through, I pray for peace to sprout a garden of praise.

Let me know how I can pray.

God’s blessing on your life.
Gigi

Though You Slay Me

Saturday March 8 2014 11:09 pm | Comments (0) Tags: , , , ,

Hi Friend!

Although I’ve not posted a blog each week, I’ve been thinking of you.

I’ve been praying for you.

I wonder if you ever have days when you just want to give up?

Do you ever feel like you are at the end of your rope?

I’ve been there lately. I’m hanging on for dear life.

But God continues to remind me that He was sent to bind up the broken hearted and set the captive free.

I love this quote.

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” – Thomas Jefferson.

It reminds me to hold on.

And I’m so glad I have friends to support me when I can’t hold on any longer.

One such friend sent me this link to a beautiful song by Shane and Shane titled “Though You Slay Me

Though He Slay Me Yet I will HOPE

I hope you’ll listen to this YouTube rendition of the song. It spoke to my troubled heart.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyUPz6_TciY

Smack dab in the middle of the song (At 3 minutes and 24 seconds) are the words I needed to hear spoken by John Piper

I heard clearly from the Lord today.

All that is going on in my life is not in vain.

My affliction is light in comparison to the Glory of God.

Every millisecond of my misery is producing a peculiar glory.

Do not lose heart, dear friend. There IS hope.

Get alone with God every morning until you preach the Word into your mind and soul.

And then you will sing with confidence as you trust Him to bring you HOPE.

He is with me….

Job 13:15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.

Oh how I needed this today.

Do you?

How can I pray for you?

Tell me your story and we will hold on together.

Gigi

 

Can I Trust God with My Hurts?

Hello Friend,

Is your heart burdened by loss or disappointment? Do you wonder if you’ll ever be able to restore the joy of your faith when life is challenging? Are you feeling lonely and isolated?

I sometimes feel that way. I am thankful for the love of people who step in to authentically share their story and point me to joy when I can’t seem to find it on my own. I am encouraged when I can learn from someone else who has received spiritual healing.

52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times is a sweet gift book written by Diana Savage. It gave me this kind of renewed hope. Diana certainly understands the need for encouragement in her own life. She experienced tragedy and disappointment. This book was written as a result of help Diana received from others in her time of need.

52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times contains 52 promises of hope and encouragement from God. Each entry begins with a Scripture and ends with a prayer. Sandwiched between these two conversations with God, Diana shares a touching, often humorous story.

The book is broken into four sections.

  • Choosing Our Outlook. Here each story challenges the reader to choose life and to focus on the positive.
  • Living Miraculously.  Diana does a fabulous job sharing beautifully crafted stories to help us trust that God will hear and answer our prayers.
  • Participating Joyfully When we realize that God always has our best interests at heart, we can live life with passion.
  • Pursuing Possibilities. We can experience the abundant life God had in mind for us from the beginning by pursuing new possibilities in life.

Diana’s creative and humorous style flows through each story. I had intended to use 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times as a weekly devotional for the fifty-two weeks of the year, but I couldn’t help but  read through every story. This is a book I will continue to read when I truly need a heart lifter.

My Valentine package to a few of my loved ones will include this book.  There is nothing like giving hope and encouragement from God to those I love.

I hope you will visit Diana’s website at www.HeartLifters.net to learn more about her ministry. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, two Chicken Soup for the Soul titles, and other books. She earned her BA from Northwest University and her Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree from Bakke Graduate University.

May the God of HOPE encourage you and fill you with peace as you trust in Him.

Gigi

heart and sunset

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers and the author, Diana Savage. However, I liked it so much I purchased several copies to give as gifts to people burdened by loss, sadness or even discouragement. I’d like to encourage you to do the same.

Keeping Thoughts Captive

Wednesday January 29 2014 6:48 am | Comments (0) Tags: , , ,

Captive thought

Hi Friend,

The theme of my week seems to be about keeping my thoughts captive to the mind of Christ.

Too often I find my mind wandering and wondering.

Does that ever happened to you?

I will admit that sometimes my thoughts aren’t very holy.

Sometimes I want to criticize.

Sometimes I want to judge.

Sometimes I want to doubt.

And sometimes I let my mind go to the “what if “scenarios as a way of escaping from my struggles.

Today’s Jesus Calling devotion is right in line with what I’ve been praying about this week.

“Let the goal of this day be to bring every thought captive to Me. Whenever your mind wanders, lasso those thoughts and bring them into My Presence. In My radiant Light, anxious thoughts shrink and shrivel away. Judgmental thoughts are unmasked as you base in My unconditional love. Confused ideas are untangled while you rest in the simplicity of My Peace. I will guard you and keep you in constant Peace as you focus your mind on Me.” Excerpt January 29th Jesus Calling Devotional. Jesus Calling APP

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3

Lord, today as I work through some things in my mind and heart, I ask that you help me take every thought captive in order for me to keep in perfect peace. I trust You. Help me fix my mind on You.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Every thought captive

How can I pray for you? Leave a comment and I will pray.

Bless your heart with good thoughts and peace,

Gigi

 

#PreachingToMyself!

 

 

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