Sunday, February 27, 2011

Winds and Waves

I have just returned from an inspiring, fun-filled weekend at the First Assembly Women's Ministry annual retreat on Sanibel Island. The theme for this year was "Winds and Waves."

Pastor Connie Weisel used the atmospheric conditions she encountered during many years of powerboating with her husband to illustrate the forces that we all battle emotionally and spiritually from day to day. She described being assaulted by violent winds and waves on stormy seas, the boat seemingly out of control. The disciples had a similar experience on the Sea of Galilee. But when they cried out to Jesus for help, just one command from him, "Peace! Be still!" calmed the rough seas and saved their lives. This same saving and delivering power averted more than one disaster for Pastor Connie and her husband as they faced the raging seas and called out to God in prayer. It is available to each of us if we will cry out to Him from the middle of our storm.

                                                                                                                  Laura Allen Nonemaker

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Vision: Keeping Our Focus

Since I posted The Road Map of Vision, the importance of keeping my focus on what God has called me to do is always present in my thoughts. There have been times in my life, so precious in my memory, when I knew that I knew that I was in the center of God's will. I am in one of those seasons now, experiencing the publication process for Benny's Angel.

I feel strongly that this book has a specific purpose in God's plan for me and that He wants to use it to touch lives for eternity.  More and more, I am inclined to pray about each activity I engage in and examine whether it supports that purpose. Once I feel confident that it does support the vision, I seek God's direction to determine where each activity should be placed in my list of priorities.

There are so many good things I might participate in, but as The Road Map of Vision points out,  I could be sacrificing the best for what is merely good. Learning to focus on God's best for me is an ongoing process, but God has promised that, as I seek to walk closely with Him, I will hear His voice telling me which way to go (Isaiah 30:21).  My job is to listen for His voice and obey.

                                                                                                                Laura Allen Nonemaker

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Road Map of Vision

"Where there is no vision, the people perish..." ~Proverbs 29:18, KJV

The most practical advantage of vision is it sets a direction for our lives. It serves as a road map. In this way, vision simplifies decision making. Anything that moves us toward the realization of our vision gets a green light. Everything else is approached with caution.

Vision will prioritize your values. A clear vision has the power to bring what's most important to the surface of your schedule and lifestyle. A clear vision makes it easy to weed out of your life those things that stand in the way of achieving what matters most. Vision empowers you to move purposefully in a predetermined direction. Once you have clarified your vision, or visions, many decisions are already made. Without vision, good things will hinder you from achieving the best things.

My observation is that people without clear vision are easily distracted. They have a tendency to drift from one activity, pleasure, or relationship to another. Without vision, there is no relational, financial, or moral compass. Consequently, they often make foolish decisions, decisions that rob them of their dreams.

                                                                                                                         Author Unknown

Monday, February 14, 2011

Breaking the Downward Spiral of Depression

Why do we sometimes find ourselves in a downward spiral of depression? Can it be prevented or at least interrupted and reversed? Tonight, while watching  Happiness by Design on Hope TV, I received some insight on what seems to be an epidemic of our times.

The moderator described the limbic system of the brain and its role in dictating our emotions. He explained how the thoughts we think originate in the frontal part of the brain, which is concerned with the emotions. When we think a thought, the frontal part of the brain sends it to the back of the limbic system, which "considers" that thought and sends back a response. This, in turn, increases the intensity of the original thought. That is relayed to the emotional center, where it intensifies even more, and so on. What we focus on creates a spiral of thinking and emotion. For example, if we watch a commercial of someone breaking into a house, a concern is raised in our mind, which is sent to our emotional center.  Before we know it, we might be convinced that someone is about to break into our house at any time.

The cycle of thoughts and emotions occurs with positive thoughts as well as negative thoughts. One suggestion the host gave for counteracting depression was to make a list of what we are thankful for. This exercise will stimulate that frontal part of the brain to send positive messages back to our emotional center and begin a spiral of good thoughts and emotions.

Hope is another factor in living life positively. The example was given of prisoners during World War II who thought they were going to be liberated by Christmas. When New Year's Day had come and gone,    some of them had died from hopelessness and despair. One prisoner who survived was asked what kept him hopeful. He answered that he had decided he needed to share his experience with the world and that motivated him to hold on.

As someone who once struggled with negative thinking, I have learned the importance of prayer and thankfulness to counteract depression. The information shared on Happiness by Design helped me understand the physiological connection between our thoughts and emotions and reminded me of the importance of focusing on the positive. I appreciate more than ever the words of Philippians 4: 6 - 8, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus...whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things." (NKJV)

                                                                                                              Laura Allen Nonemaker

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Benny's Angel: The Journey Continues...

On the first day of February, right on schedule, I received an e-mail from Alex Russell, my editor for the conceptual editing of Benny's Angel. He introduced himself and laid out the timetable for the next part of the production process.

During the first three weeks of February, Alex will edit my entire manuscript, watching for plot formation, story arc, and character consistency, etc. I will not hear from him until February 21, when he will send me the edited manuscript with problem areas and suggestions highlighted.  Once I have approved, disapproved, or rewritten these areas, I will return the manuscript to him, and he will combine my edits.

The manuscript will be returned to me in the second week of March. I will review it and, if I am satisfied, sign it off as approved, using a Content Approval Form. Once Alex has received the manuscript back, he will move it on to Tate's Audio and Design Departments.

In addition to giving me my timetable, Alex asked me to return the questionnaire I completed last month. I explain the questionnaire in a previous blog post, Update on Benny's Angel. He also requested that I send in the endorsement I had received for the book, as well as confirm the exact title and the way my name should appear on the cover and title page.

This is all very exciting, while at the same time sobering. Once I approve the final changes, the wording of the manuscript is "set in stone" and cannot be changed. That is why I am seeking God for His wisdom and direction more than ever. As I do this, He gives me a peace and assurance that He is with me now, just as He was present in my secret garden the day Benny's Angel was conceived in my imagination.

                                                                                                                                     ~ Laura