The Freedom of Forgiving Yourself – Faith Thoughts With Michelle Lim

Photo by Sallydell

Photo by Sallydell

Grace for others is not simple, but it seems the most difficult thing in life is to forgive ourselves. Many of us carry secrets of things we regret. Often we struggle to forgive ourselves and live with the peace and freedom God intended.

Sometimes things happen that we can’t control. Other times we have a role in what happened, but are heartbroken looking back.

According to CNN, “2,000 auto accidents a year kill “dart-outs,” incidents in which the driver has no chance to avoid a pedestrian. (The highest percentage of dart-outs are 5-to-9-year-old boys, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.) According to a study, those drivers are more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than drunken drivers, says Strauss.”

I can’t imagine the pain and self recrimination these drivers go through, even though they aren’t to blame.

What about those times when we are to blame for something that happened, or some part in a tragedy?

Photo by Ben Kersey

Photo by Ben Kersey

Let me tell you about my high school friend named Joe.

Joe wasn’t well liked. He came to school with smelly, unwashed clothes. He was wiry thin from malnutrition and often smudged dirt blended with the freckles on his face.

Joe was bullied by the football team, taunted by the wrestling team, and ridiculed by the popular girls.

Joe was one of the kindest kids I’d ever met. His smile could light a room and he always knew how to cheer me up.

Joe and I became friends. Little did I know that my friendship gave Joe something to look forward to.

One day I had broken up with my then sweetheart as high school kids do. I was sad and didn’t feel like talking. That day I didn’t say hi to Joe. I didn’t much talk at all. I was so tied up in my own problems.

That was the last day Joe came to school. The following day he dropped out and never came back. I called Joe to talk him into coming back.

When I asked him why he dropped out, Joe said, “You were the only person who ever knew I existed. The day you didn’t say hi, I decided I was done being invisible.”

Many times I asked myself how I could’ve been so self-absorbed. I felt guilt and sorrow. Even today that moment sticks out in my mind and I have to remember that I was just a kid. That kids make choices that aren’t always wise, or kind.

Photo by Roger Kirby

Photo by Roger Kirby

“He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.”

Psalm 103:10-11(ESV)

There are other things that I’ve done that I’m not proud of, chances are you have too. We cannot change the past, so we must choose to live in the past or accept the future in light of the past. It sounds so simple, but it isn’t.

Many times we need others who can listen, a therapist who can guide us, a pastor or friend who can pray with us. At the end of the day we must choose.

I choose to forgive myself. If we tell ourselves this every morning, eventually it will feel more true. Then the true freedom God intended for us can be ours.

Photo by David Simmons

Photo by David Simmons

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 (ESV)

Do you struggle to forgive yourself? What has helped you?

Ten Things Not To Tell An Editor / Agent At A Conference

Photo by William Picard

Photo by William Picard

  1. God gave me the story just the way it is and nothing in it should change.
  2. If you give me your phone number, I’ll call you when it is finished.
  3. I expect a six figure signing bonus.
  4. My mom said it was the best book she’s ever read.
  5. Don’t steal my story.
  6. Don’t make me go all “Shack” on you.
  7. I’ve never thought of myself as a hero, but I could tell you about my journey. (hero’s journey)
  8. This is the first in a ten book series.
  9. Here’s the full manuscript for you to read on the plane on your way home.
  10. My book is better than all of the drivel out there on the best seller list.

What crazy saying could you add to our list?

How To Create Believable Character Change

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Picture by Bensik lmeri

Have you ever met Supermom? You know, the mom who knows everything about being mom of the year and makes you look like you belong at amateur week?

Yeah. I’ve met her too. She is the one who I sweat bullets over becoming like, only to fall miserably on my face.

Face plant. That’s me.

If I were to take apart her journey, she probably didn’t get her Supermom status over night. There had to be some smaller steps along the way. No one can be that amazing instantly.

In fact, I bet she even failed at some time or another. Whew, that makes me feel a bit better.

Real life teaches us that talent and experience blend together to create change or growth in our lives. Our characters should grow the same way if their change is to be believable.

How To Create Believable Character Change:

*Define the clear start and end points. To show our character’s change we must identify where they are starting and ending. Then the midpoints are more easily defined.

*Identify small growth steps between the beginning and end points. People change in baby steps. The person who is terrified of water, won’t all of the sudden be an expert swimmer without first getting in the water and practicing.

*Identify small failures and obstacles that they overcome before complete transformation. If a character is not challenged as they reach for the end result, the reader does not value the change and it will make no impact on their lives as they read.

Example:

Lily struggles to trust anyone to do some of the homework in their group assignments. She can’t afford to get anything less than an “A”.

Here is what I might do to plot the change:

Start point– Lily will not let anyone else take home project work.

Midpoint– Lily lets someone take home project work, but checks it and makes changes before turning it in.

End Point– Lily lets someone else take home project work and trusts them enough to turn it in without checking their work.

Failures/Obstacles- Lily loses points because she did all of the work herself on the first project, Lily discovers she doesn’t know everything- changes something incorrectly on the project, and another one could be that her team mates resent her for taking control.

This is a simple example of how this might work. Think through the progression of how a character changes in your story. Make sure it is a logical progression and has baby steps.

Marlin in Finding Nemo is one of my favorite character change examples.

What is one of your favorite character changes in a book or movie?

Music Monday – A Dash of Peace For Your Day

Photo by Ernie Torres

Photo by Ernie Torres

Welcome back! We are so excited about what is coming on our blog over the next few weeks. We will be introducing some new things and sharing ideas to help with everyday stuff.

This weekend tragedy again hits the news and with the big Republican National Convention in Cleveland, protests are likely to continue. What we need more than anything else right now is peace. Even in the midst of it all, we can have peace.

Here is some music to bring peace and encouragement for your Monday:

 

 

If you have some songs of encouragement for today, please post the youtube link in comments below.

 

 

Summer Vacation – We’ve Fallen Into The Watermelon!

Photo by marinpa

Photo by marinpa

Dear Faithful Blog Followers,

Thank you so much for being a part of the thoughtsonplot blog family! Summer is here and with it we are out having family adventures, writing new stories, and catching up on a bit of sunshine. It is the time of year when we take a bit of a rest.

We will be back July 18th with new and exciting posts. In the meanwhile, enjoy the summer!

Sincerely,

Michelle, Liz, Pat, Jessica, Jill, Shirley, & Donna

How To Set Monthly Writing Goals That Work – Crazy Little Thing Called Time

Basic RGBWinter is the most difficult time for me as a writer. I struggle to get things done. The lack of sunlight makes for a  depressing creative pallet. Come spring I am looking for ways to get back to my intense writing schedule of summer.

Summer is here and my most productive writing season is calling my name. Maybe you are in that same place, but feel frustrated because setting goals never seems to work out for you. You have great intentions, start with a passion, and slink into the embarrassment zone before week two of your self-imposed deadline.

You are not alone.

Every year I hone my goal writing style to bring better success. Some tips are in the graphic above. I don’t have it all figured out, but I have learned a few tricks along the way.

How to set monthly writing goals that work:

*Be Realistic. This is the make it or break it rule that determines if you will have any shot at success. Goals that are so lofty it is a constant struggle to meet them will almost always result in failure. Still, there must be some challenge in each week.

Find a balance of challenge by variating your most challenging element each week. It shouldn’t always be word count. Every other week might be word count. In between, challenge yourself to have a week with stronger verbs, or scenes that are more complete, or concise.

*Set Weekly Goals. Each week should have a word count goal and a crafting goal. This allows you to challenge yourself in different areas. Also, it should not require each day to be a marathon. Recognize that a week’s ebb and flow is a more practical way to set goals, allowing for flexibility when life gets in the way.

For example, a weekly word count goal of 8,000 words could be paired with the goal to show more instead of tell. From there I can break down about how much is needed each day. If I write five days a week, then that means about 1600 words a day and maybe I will read a chapter about show not tell on Monday.

When my schedule pops up with two baseball games on one day, which crazy as it is does happen, I can adjust to 600 words that day and add the other words into my other days.

*Create Rewards. Find ways to reward yourself each week if you make your weekly goal. It is essential to celebrate the small victories. At the end of the month have something amazing you have earned like a spa massage, or something you really want.

*Have An Accountability Buddy. The writer’s journey is very solitary. We need to make sure that we are not facing each step alone. Talk to someone who can help you. Lean on one another and talk often.

What are some things you do to set monthly writing goals that work? What are some challenges you face as you set goals?

Monday Music To Write and Read- Cello and I

Photo by Matthew Maaskant

Photo by Matthew Maaskant

The month of June is full of graduations, weddings, and other family celebrations. It is sometimes difficult to focus on what is happening with work and especially hard to find quiet, peaceful times to rejuvenate.

Somehow in the midst of all of the craziness, we have to find time to be refreshed. Without it, the times of chaos feel more stressful.

In my writing world I have a self imposed deadline and I find that music helps me to feel centered, creative, and more able to write. I am constantly looking for new music to inspire me.

Here is something that I am listening to as I write:

With a huge writing goal for June, I am looking for lots of music to help me along the way. How about you?

What are you listening to?