When God’s In The Wrong Seat

January 22nd, 2015

driver photoBetween the birth of Lil Bit last October and our enforced exile from our bedrooms last September, life has been chaotic, to say the least.

The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry…

My original intent was to have a set of Bible studies posted during December for the season of Advent and at least one message uploaded for each week in Advent. As you may have noticed, that didn’t happen. I revised that schedule and decided to go back to my regular monthly Bible study and monthly message starting the first of January. As yet, I’ve only been able to write most of the message. Recording it, however, is turning out to be wishful thinking on my part. As for the Bible study, I might still be able to post it by next Wednesday — maybe.

The same challenges have cropped up in regards to the next book in the Malkin series. I normally write the bulk of those during NaNoWriMo in November and finish drafting it in December, then start planning the novella in January. I just started the next novel in the series this month and I’m struggling to get the scenes drafted. The novella? I haven’t even begun to think about it.

Those are just my writing challenges. On top of those we’ve had to remove all the drywall from all the bedrooms and the bathroom downstairs within a few days because there was significant mold growth on the backing. And of course, one can’t ignore the piles of dishes in the sink or Mt. Washmore by the laundry room. Nor can one turn a deaf ear to the rumbling of stomachs, unless, of course, one enjoys a good mutiny. Oh! And let’s not forget the bills accumulating in the “to pay” file.

That’s where I was last Monday when at 5 a.m. God reached down and reminded me that I can’t do it all.

You can’t do it all…

I woke up to feed Lil Bit, as usual, but scooting to the end of the air mattress to get to her was painful. I noticed I was feeling a bit stiff and sore earlier in the night, but hadn’t thought much about it other than to make a note that I’d need a good, hot shower to work the kinks out in the morning. Despite the pain, I levered myself up from the floor (did I mention the air mattress has a leak I’m still trying to fix?) and took a step toward her bassinet…

and promptly collapsed back on the mattress. The pain shot through my body like lightening, making me light-headed and nauseated. I managed to gasp out to my sleeping husband that I needed his help and, thankfully, he was able to take control from there to take care of both me and our youngest baby.

When morning finally arrived, I took stock of what didn’t hurt. It wasn’t much. Everything from my neck to my knees screamed at even the thought of movement. The joints in my hands ached as if I had arthritis. My muscles protested like rusted cables.

“What am I going to do?” I wondered.

My husband needed to get to work. My mother wasn’t due to arrive for our girls’ day out until later that morning. I was going to have to disappoint my oldest daughter, Blur, and tell her Mommy couldn’t take her to get her hair cut today. And what about all the other things I had planned to do that day?

As my husband fed Lil Bit, I broke the news to Blur. She seemed remarkably calm, offering to take care of me until I felt better. She fixed me a bowl full of saltines and a cup of hot 7up, brought me my phone to call Grandma and proceeded to check on me every few minutes. I couldn’t have asked for a better little caretaker.

A few hours later, my husband had gone to work and my Mom had arrived to take over caring for the girls. I was feeling a little better, thanks to the Tylenol I’d taken earlier, and went ahead with my plans for a shower. As the water pounded out the rest of the stiffness, I pondered what could be behind the sudden onset. I couldn’t think of anything I’d done that would have elicited such a strong reaction by my body. One thought, though, kept running through my mind.

This was my body’s way of telling me I needed to take a break.

And on the heels of that, “You’ve prayed for God to take control of all these challenges. Maybe you need to hand the wheel over to Him.”

Moving into the passenger seat…

I decided then to just take the day one moment at a time and let God take care of the details. Since then I’ve done that each day, reminding myself when I start getting anxious that I’ve let God have the driver’s seat in my life. I won’t say my pain went away miraculously or that every day since then has been a breeze, but it’s getting better. The pain is finally gone and the anxieties are under control.

As for the work? I’ve decided to adopt the saying “progress, not perfection.” I will continue to post Bible studies, but they may not be on a specific day every month. My monthly messages will be uploaded as .pdfs, but the podcast may be added at a later date. As long as I’m getting scenes drafted I won’t worry about when I’ll have the book finished and ready to be published.

Progress, not perfection. Its about putting God in the right seat. So long as He’s driving, you’ll always end up exactly where you need to be.

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Knowing When To Slow Down

August 21st, 2014

Sometimes life slams you across the head with a 2×4 to get your attention.

20140816_030902That’s what’s happened recently in my household. As if being 7 months pregnant wasn’t enough to remind me that I need to slow down and take care of myself and my family, last Friday’s torrential rain storm certainly was.

Our finished basement was flooded with about 6 inches of backed up sewer water that night. Might not have been a big deal, except that’s where our bedrooms are. Imagine the horror of waking up at 1 a.m. and setting your feet into ankle deep, ice cold water that wasn’t there when you went to sleep. Hubby, God bless him, not only stayed up until 6 a.m. trying to suck up as much water as possible in our borrowed shop vac, he also had the brilliant idea to call our insurance company. (My 5-year-old daughter says he saved her life, too, by carrying her upstairs so I could drive her out to my folks warm, dry house to spend the rest of the night.)

Since then it’s been a matter of focusing on the next step for the insurance claim and “where do we go from here?”

That brings me back to my original thought: knowing when to slow down.

God always takes care of us. Sometimes, though, we neglect to listen to God’s guidance and just barrel on through, which often ends in our being forced to reconsider what we thought was important. That’s what’s happened to me.

During the summer, my daughter was on vacation, so my writing schedule was extra tight. I had, at most, one hour to do everything writer related–business, monthly messages and studies, and drafting my newest Bible study, Trust God. I pushed on, believing that if other mother’s could do it, so could I, pregnant or not.

Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Not a big deal. I had it with my first daughter, so I knew what to expect. Still, there are times when low blood sugar causes some irritating side effects, like feeling like I’m slogging through half-set Jell-O. And yet, I did not head the message to slow down.

Then last Friday’s flood was the last straw. I’m now faced with trying to live in 800 square feet of space with my husband and daughter and our mountains of stuff. All our 20140816_104632clean clothes are piled in the kitchen. Everything that could be moved from downstairs is now residing either in our shed or our dining room. The living room is now our dining room and bedroom. Our poor neurotic cat is stuck in my parents’ basement garage, hiding somewhere. And we have less than 2 months before the new baby arrives.

I think it’s time to re-think my schedule.

I am certainly not complaining. It could be much worse. We could have had a house fire. The multi-outlet surge protectors we usually have on the floor of our bedrooms could have been in the water and we all could have been electrocuted. Any number of other scenarios could have played out, but they didn’t. All in all, I think we’ve been blessed.

Perhaps the biggest blessing is my realization that I need to slow down and focus on the most important things right now. I need to focus on my family and our welfare at the moment.

Here’s what you can expect from me for the next few months.

Journeyman-Cat15percentI may be rather scarce on social media and my regular monthly posts may become much more irregular, as might my monthly newsletter. I’ll be diligently working on releasing Master Cat in October, as promised, and finally releasing the audiobook for Journeyman Cat later this fall (fingers crossed).

Beyond that, I’m working on the first of the Master Cat Novel series, which takes place after Master Cat and continues the story of Toby and his partner Lorn. I’ll also be drafting the third in the Malkin novella series, featuring Nadine and her continuing struggle to understand what it means to be specially chosen by the One.

I also have plans for another inspirational book on how to pray and see the blessings around us while in the midst of crises.

My normal schedule for new releases is a Malkin novella in the spring, a Bible study or inspirational book in the summer, and a Master Cat novel in the fall. However, things being what they are, release dates may need to be pushed back a month or two (or three or four. You get the picture). It’s frustrating to me, but I put my faith in God’s timing and I hope you’ll join me on this new, if slower, adventure called the writer’s life.

***

GFront-Cover-25-percentod promises to be with us through everything,
encouraging us to trust him through every situation we encounter.

Individuals and groups alike will find themselves
discovering that every day is a new opportunity to see God’s touch on their lives as they journey through scripture to uncover that:

  • No Matter Who You Are…
  • No Matter How You Feel…
  • No Matter What People Do…
  • No Matter What Happens..
  • No Matter Where You Are…
  • No Matter How Little You Have…
  • No Matter What You’ve Done…
  • No Matter How Old You Are…

Trust God!
Paperback edition also available on Amazon.

Ebook version available for Kindle, InkteraNookKobo, and Scribd or…

buy the .pdf version here

Vol1Cover25percent

Get six Bible based, inspirational messages by Virginia Ripple from the blog One Servant’s Heart all in one .zip file.

Messages include:

  • Called to Forgive Called to Serve
  • New Beginnings
  • No Fear In Love
  • The Boneyard
  • The Dirty Little Penny
  • The Hardest Commandment

Pay What You Want for the audiobook.

Simply Prayer ebook

When we find ourselves stymied by what we think prayer should look like, it’s time to step back and think like a child. God loves each of us and wants to hear from us.

Prayer can be as complex as we want or as simple as we need, but sometimes we need a little help getting started. In this book you’ll discover the basics of:

  • What prayer is
  • Why we pray
  • How to pray
  • How to know your prayers are answered

From repetitions to labyrinths to dancing to journals, it is all Simply Prayer.

Ebook version available for NookKindleKobo, and Scribd or…

buy the .pdf version here

You can purchase this book at Amazon.com or in my CreateSpace store front.

Or Pay What You Want for the audiobook.

Fear NotWhen life seems impossible to cope with, God reaches out to remind us of his promises for our lives. Journey through scripture to meet God in new and unexpected ways as you discover what it means to “Fear Not!”

Anyone can use Fear Not to meet God in new and unexpected ways.  Each of the eight sessions begins with an introduction, then moves on to a scripture reading (included), questions to ponder, a meditation picture and lastly a list of possible hands-on projects you can do.

The eight sessions are:

  • Session 1 … God is always with us
  • Session 2 … God is in control
  • Session 3 … God keeps his promises
  • Session 4 … God keeps us safe
  • Session 5 … God provides for us
  • Session 6 … God reveals himself to us
  • Session 7 … God gives us new life
  • Session 8 … God sends a Helper to us

Ebook version available for NookKindleKobo, and Scribd or …

 buy the .pdf version here

Paperback edition also available on Amazon.com or in my Lulu.com store front at: Virginia’s Store Front.

Avoiding Dragons With a Training Budget

October 29th, 2011

Welcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

How often have you overspent on a “deal” that was guaranteed to help increase your income, but left you broke instead? How many times have you lacked the funds necessary to buy that eBook that could teach you ways to improve your marketing strategy?

If you’re like most Independent Authors, myself included, the times for either scenario are many. So what can you do to safe-guard against those ups and downs in your finances and take control of your spending?

Budget.

If your primary goal is to continue to improve yourself, whether that means your writing or how you market your product, having money allocated specifically to continued education assures you that the money is there when you need it without having to ask the dragon (aka credit cards) to fit the bill. Using a budget for those funds also forces us to think before we buy.

Michael Martine of RemarkaBlogger suggests in his post “The Most Important Question You Need to Stop Asking Yourself” that you first set training goals, something specific like learning how to take advantage of social media to market your book, and then take a look at how you spent your “training” money in the past year. (If you’ve read The Money Book you’re a step ahead already.)

From there he tells us to set our quarterly budget by taking the amount we’re comfortable with spending over a year and dividing it by four. As Michael says setting a training budget helps us decide between what is a good buy and what would make us “the victim of others for their gain.”

While we’re setting a spending limit, it’s based on past experience.

As Simple Life in France puts it in “How to budget for inspiration not deprivation” by building a budget at the end of the month, or in this case upon last year’s spending, “your budget is just an honest friend here to tell you the truth about the way you spend your money. You’re making observations, not judgments.”

As my mentor, FlyLady Marla Cilley, says, in order to improve ourselves we need to get rid of the “stinkin’ thinkin’.” That means not beating ourselves up each time we overspend, but rather making an effort to do better this month.

If you want to budget for your continued training, basing it upon last year’s spending and reviewing it at the end of each month can be a real stress reliever, especially when you can congratulate yourself for staying within your limits.

What approaches have you used to tame your finances?

***

Catch up on the adventure with other books in the Malkin series.

Apprentice Cat CoverApprentice Cat available in paperback and for KindleNookKoboScribd and iTunes.

Buy the .pdf now 

Also available as an audiobook on AudibleAmazon and iTunes.

 

 

Journeyman-Cat15percentJourneyman Cat available in paperback and KindleNookScribdiTunes and Kobo.

Buy the .pdf now 

Audiobook coming soon.

 

 

Secrets-of-the-Malkin-sidebar-newsletterSecrets of the Malkin ebook version available for KindleNookiTunes and Kobo.

Buy the .pdf now 

 

 

 

Huntress of the MalkinHuntress of the Malkin ebook version available for KindleNookKobo and iTunes.

Buy the .pdf now 

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When Life Attacks

October 24th, 2011

Welcome to Laugh Out Loud Monday (aka LOL Monday): because, like my favorite fat cat, I hate Mondays, I thought, “What better way to start the week than with a laugh?”

We’ve all had days where it seems no matter what you do, something is bound to go wrong. This poor cat knows how that feels. Sometimes life just pulls you in, whether you like it or not.

***

Catch up on the adventure with other books in the Malkin series.

Apprentice Cat CoverApprentice Cat available in paperback and for KindleNookKoboScribd and iTunes.

Buy the .pdf now 

Also available as an audiobook on AudibleAmazon and iTunes.

 

 

Journeyman-Cat15percentJourneyman Cat available in paperback and KindleNookScribdiTunes and Kobo.

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Secrets-of-the-Malkin-sidebar-newsletterSecrets of the Malkin ebook version available for KindleNookiTunes and Kobo.

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Huntress of the MalkinHuntress of the Malkin ebook version available for KindleNookKobo and iTunes.

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Deadlines: When The Sandstorm Approaches

September 21st, 2011

Welcome to Spirit Wednesday where we take a look at all things spiritual from meditation to prayer to cleaning the house. Yes, even house work can be a spiritual experience… if you choose to see it that way.

Just as we know certain conditions can create terrific storms, such as a sandstorm, we know deadlines do not come out of nowhere either. How we deal with that oncoming storm means the difference between increasing amounts of stress and a steady rhythm of calm.

Mounting stress…

If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter to finish a project or study for a big exam, you know what it feels like to wait until the sandstorm is upon you before deciding it would be a good idea to take cover. While we might have the gear we need to survive (notes, completed research, etc.), if we don’t then we’re looking at a slim chance of pulling through unscathed.

At the very least we’re going to feel the stress of waiting until the last moment in our bodies and our psyches.

The better solution…

Rather than waiting for that sandstorm deadline to roll over us we can plan ahead to be ready. Of course, planning from the very beginning is best, but even taking some time out anywhere before that last minute to decide on a course of action is a good idea.

For example, my goal is to finish the first draft of my current WIP, Apprentice Cat, by the end of the year. That has been my deadline since Jan. 1, 2011. However, I waited until July 31, 2011, to figure out how I would reach that goal in specific, measurable steps.

I just looked at the calendar and compared it to what I need to do in order meet my goal. Can I do it? I don’t know. That’s not the point. The point is to keep working my plan to the best of my ability.

If we stop to watch the sandstorm roll in we won’t get anything done to prepare for it. There’s time, but you have to keep moving.

Do you ever find yourself watching a deadline roll in rather than working steadily toward a goal? What do you do to keep on track?

***

Prayer can be as complex as we want or as simple as we need, but sometimes we need a little help getting started. In Simply Prayer you’ll discover the basics of: what prayer is, why we pray, how to pray, and how to know your prayers are answered. If you’re looking for ideas and examples on simple ways to pray you can find them in Simply Prayer, available in print, for KindleNook and audio book.

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The Benefits of Meditation

May 25th, 2011

meditation photoAlthough I’ve always thought meditating on a regular basis was a good idea, it wasn’t until I read the following article that I understood just how beneficial it could be.

Apparently, meditating at least 30 minutes per day can alter the brain, creating higher density in gray matter where it counts (i.e. the area controlling memory, empathy, sense of self) and lower density in regions that affect how we deal with things like anxiety and stress.

All in all, even if there are no other changes within the brain than being able to cope with stress better, doing some form of daily meditation is worth the extra 30 minutes per day we need to squeeze into our already packed schedules.

How Meditation May Change the Brain

By SINDYA N. BHANOO

Over the December holidays, my husband went on a 10-day silent meditation retreat. Not my idea of fun, but he came back rejuvenated and energetic.

He said the experience was so transformational that he has committed to meditating for two hours daily, one hour in the morning and one in the evening, until the end of March. He’s running an experiment to determine whether and how meditation actually improves the quality of his life.

I’ll admit I’m a skeptic.

But now, scientists say that meditators like my husband may be benefiting from changes in their brains. Read the rest of the post.