Be Careful What you Research

October 1, 2019

Things are moving along quite well. God finally got me past my dumping a post mid-writing. Some of the problems I have with my writing still apply, but this was a larger issue of which I wasn’t cognizant. Three nights of dreaming the same themed dream and I got a clue: I stopped writing because I didn’t feel qualified. This was even after I had acknowledged that I didn’t have to be an expert in a subject, if I was just going to report on it. Reporting was what much of the research and writing entailed. I do have to admit being experienced in what you’re writing about makes for better reporting, but does not exclude someone from performing them. Anyway, it was an immense help and, now I just keep on going.

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Time Flies

July 8, 2019

I knew it had been a long time since I had posted anything, but I hadn’t realized it’s been this long. My last post was four five months ago. I figured it had been a month at most. I don’t know where the time went or what I was doing. There has been research for an article, but four months of research? That doesn’t sound right. If I ever do get the magazine up and running, at this rate, it looks like it will need to be published once-a-year. Perhaps, even every other year. I do know one person that publishes her magazine only when she enough money to print it. I suppose I might follow her lead. Instead of weekly, quarterly, or yearly it could be whenever. How would it be advertised? Subscribe and get your first issue whenever it’s ready.

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Nothing Exciting: Editing and Writing

Editing hasn’t been going so well.  What I’m supposed to be doing is reading the article, then writing down needed improvements on a sheet of paper.  These would then need to be communicated to the writer, so he/she can do a rewrite.  Since I’m randomly pulling articles off the internet there is no communication with a writer.  I’m just making notes or doing it myself.  It simply isn’t working.  Plan B is to start researching (which I need to do anyway) and writing articles.  I’ll let them sit for a week or so,  re-read them, make notes, let them sit for another week, then go back and make changes based on those notes.  Hopefully, it will sharpen both my communication and editing skills.  It’s not optimal, but it’s the best it’s going to get for a while.

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Learning the Job

December 30, 2018

I’m on my third book about magazine editing.  I’m sticking to something I learned a few years back: if you don’t know something, then read about it.  Keep reading even when it doesn’t make sense.  With enough exposure to the subject and the different authors writing styles you’ll finally get it.  I like this book the best so far.  One, it is beginning to make sense, and, two, because the author gets into the weeds.  Doesn’t sound attractive, but sometimes it’s where you need to be.

For future self: This is when you started pulling poorly written articles off the internet in an attempt to improve them.  Because you’ve just learned most stories written need improvement and it’s the editor’s job to determine how.  You had your doubts as to whether you could recognize good writing much less turn something bad into good, but you went ahead anyway.  You figured it would be good copyediting practice, too.  The first story you pulled was awful.  It had extraneous information, the opening paragraph was a snooze, and information was repeated for no apparent reason.   You didn’t realize all of this when you decided to make it your first editing trial (what an apt word).  You just knew it was awful.  When you actually sat down to do it you were stymied.  “Was there a way to make this better?”  Then the ideas started coming.  Move this to the opening and create some tension.  Get rid of this.  Trim that.  Expand here.  Is it better?  It couldn’t be any worse, but I’ll let you decide.  I’m going to save it for you: the original and the revised.  A reminder of when you first put your blue pencil to work.  I expect it’ll be a humbling experience.

Back to the present.  I also held my first brainstorming meeting with myself.  It sounds stupid to hold a meeting with oneself, but I’m trying to instill some discipline into all of this.  Plus, the book said another of the editor’s responsibilities is to generate ideas.  It was actually a good meeting.  It started off a little slow, but once I started to think in terms of the magazine title, then I began to get more ideas.  In a way, it could be considered a flop as I didn’t generate ideas for articles, but the magazine started to take shape as to the type of stories it will include.  And that will lead to ideas for articles, so a pretty good start.

And this is a pretty good place to stop.

May God bless you and keep you!

Posted in Notes from the Field

Discovering a lot about Myself

December 23, 2018

I’m learning quite a bit about myself.   This is surprising.  I knew I would be learning new skills, but I didn’t realize learning these things would also teach me about myself. 

I learned I like copyediting.  This was a huge surprise as I hate grammar and copyediting involves grammar.  But there’s something satisfying about transforming an ugly sentence into one that’s ship-shape.  

I learned I like diagramming sentences.  Thanks be to God for that one as it was my final attempt to learn grammar and it seems to be paying off.  I took it up because trying to learn by reading books on grammar made my eyes glaze over and put my brain to sleep.  But diagramming sentences is more like a puzzle and those I enjoy.  Or, perhaps, it’s because it’s active rather than passive.  Whatever the case, finding I enjoyed doing them was a pleasant surprise.

For someone who dislikes grammar I was surprised to learn I don’t like bad English.  I was doing some copyediting exercises whose instructions stated not to make any changes to the language.  I got to this one quote and I just couldn’t leave it alone as it was so bad.  Instead this little grammar Nazi reared its ugly little head and proclaimed, “No direct quotes in the magazine from people who don’t speak good English.  Paraphrase it, instead.”  Copyediting doesn’t have a paraphrase symbol, so I guess I’m going to have to make one up.

Of course not all my lessons have been good.  I also learned I have all five personality traits of CEOs who can’t manage to execute properly.  I think that was the first time I’ve ever been insulted by a book.  It made me laugh.  The author stated all CEOs have one or two of these traits and I had all of them.  Insults aside, it was good to learn where my problems lay.

While it’s a good book for building execution into a company it wasn’t what I needed.  I needed some kind of organizational system, so I started reading Getting Things Done by David Allen.  The principle behind his system is to get everything off of your mind and onto paper.  This relieves stress because you are no longer getting constant mental reminders to do these things.  It worked like a charm.  It took away all of my stress.  It also took away all of my motivation.  I came to a complete halt.  Now, nothing was getting done.  That’s when I learned I must work better under stress.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to recapture it.  I guess once stress is gone, it’s gone.

Of course, it might not be the stress.  It might be the change in days.  I was getting a little upset when the days started getting shorter as I couldn’t get as much accomplished.  I guess I was getting on God’s nerves with my grumbling because the next thing I know the Holy Spirit was telling me it’s so we can rest.  So I tried to go with it by turning everything off when it got dark outside.  This allowed me to see what God meant.  Even while working it was restful.   

So if anyone ever wants to know what’s wrong with them, I’m going to suggest they start a ministry to find out.  You learn a lot about yourself.

P.S.  If you’re building a ministry from scratch, then, insults aside, Execution : The Discipline of Getting Things Done  by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan seems like a good book to read.  It shows you how to build execution into the fabric of your company.

P.P.S. And if you’re getting stressed by all the things you need to get done, then Getting Things Done: the Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen might be of some help.

God bless! And here’s wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Posted in Notes from the Field

Work on the Magazine Continues in Spite of . . . Well, Everything

I’m finally getting a breather.  I was so drug out from all that’s been going on I didn’t have enough energy to get out of my chair one day.  Life was that crazy.  Things are better now.  I finally found some help and I’m beginning to feel rested.

HaHa!  As soon as I wrote “things are better now” my computer graphic card went out. Corruption has its challenges, so the craziness continues.  Sans computer, I ended up reading Jennifer Fultweiler’s One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both.  While reading, I came across her account of how much Resistance she received while trying to write her book: everything from self-doubt to major illnesses.  Resistance, as she describes it, is a term used by Steven Pressfield in the The War of Art to explain the pushback phenomenon everyone experiences when they begin to create.  If that’s the case, then Resistance rears his ugly head every time I turn around.  This is the second attempt to write this blog post.  The first time the graphics card in my computer went out.  This time the computer froze up and required a restart to get it back up and running.  Those are minor examples.  There have been larger ones.  The largest–the clerical sex abuse scandal and cover-up–almost derailed me.  I still don’t what I’m going to do.

What I can’t do is point people to the Catholic Church.  What would I say?  Join the one holy and apostolic Catholic Church where your children can be sexually abused by the priests and bishops.  So your beautiful child can be turned into a drug-addicted wreck, live a horribly wounded life, and, possibly, finish that off with suicide.  All caused by the men who act in persona Christi and the apostolic successors.  What a friggen joke. God, I’m so angry.   Of course, they keep it all under wraps because people learning about it would create a scandal and give the devil something which to RIGHTLY accuse the Church.  That’s the real scandal according to the pope.  Not the actual crimes themselves, but reporting the crimes and being upset about them.

I could tell people about synodality.  I’m sure that’ll be a wonderful evangelization point.  It must be of great concern to people because even though the pope claimed they weren’t prepared to talk about the sex abuse crisis during the synod on young people they worked overtime to get synodality included.   This is all so ridiculous I can’t even continue.  There’s too much to list and it just keeps going on and on and on.  I get so angry I can’t even think straight.

So ixnay on all that.   There is good news.  Thank be to God.  Literally.  Like I stated earlier, these scandals nearly derailed me.  I was incredibly disheartened until the Holy Spirit informed me God can fix the Church.  Not only did it hearten me, but it reminded me of a couple of dreams I’ve had.

One was not too long after I became a Christian.  I never dreamt much, prior.  I know people say everyone has dreams, but you just don’t remember them.  Whether it was memory or I just didn’t have them that all changed.  After becoming a Christian I not only had them but remembered them.  It’s been about 16 years and I still remember many of them from those days.  In one of them I saw a beach and scattered all over it were these broken tinker toys.   Then I saw God walking along the beach picking up the pieces.  I think I recall that one now because I think it’s appropriate to say the Church has been wrecked.  This is what’s so damnable regarding the Church today: all the souls whose lives are in peril of being lost and/or cast off because these men have been allowed to run amuck.

Another one was more recent.  I believe it was before the Vigano letters and the Pennsylvania grand jury report.  In this dream/nightmare I was walking towards a narrow alley.  There were two men with me.  One was on my left, the other on my right.  Out of nowhere this huge knife appears. In the dream, the knife didn’t come out of the sky, but more like a pendulum that swung along the horizontal rather than the vertical.  It was leveled at the head of the man on my left, much like when they say someone levels a gun at a person.  It appeared, swung until it bashed his head in. Then it disappeared.

Then just lately, I saw a large room.  It looked like a flophouse, it was dirty and disgusting, but I understood it to be a commune.  In this dream, in the middle of the commune a man was raping a woman with what looked to be the wooden end of a plunger.  There were other men with him.  They were standing, if it can be said, at every corner of her: one at each foot and one at each shoulder.  They were just standing there watching.  Then they were gone and another man (who looked like Lord Jesus) was there and he stood by the woman while other men made short order of cleaning up the commune.  It was almost suddenly clean with the exception of few men working around the periphery to finish it up.

I get the sense that the woman represented the Church proper while the commune was the church at large (not really sure what that means).  I don’t know who the men were, but their positions signified they were from every corner of the Church.  The second man represented Lord Jesus who will stand by the Church proper and He and his helpers will clean up the rest.

In light of the Holy Spirit’s comfort I’m going ahead with the magazine.  Another help is focusing less on what I can’t do and more on what I can do.  That’s when the ideas start to come.

God bless! And thanks be to God for God!

Posted in Notes from the Field

Marketing Dos and Don’ts

July 30, 2018

I’ve been thinking about marketing a lot lately.  Specifically, when is it annoying and when welcomed.  I want to get these down before I forget :

Emails

  • Assuming they have subscribed to your emails, then one email a day is not too much. There are many sites I receive an email a day from and I don’t get annoyed.  I simply delete it.  It doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from them again I’m just not interested in hearing from them that day.
  • If someone deletes an email from you, don’t turn around and send them two more. If I don’t want to hear from you that day, then sending me more emails is just going to annoy me.  Like that one site I recently subscribed and unsubscribed the other day.  The first email was fine, but didn’t sound like anything I wanted to read, so I deleted it. They sent me two more emails.  I deleted those and believe I received some more.  It was like the Tribbles in that Star Trek episode they just kept multiplying.
  • Keep in touch with them between issue notifications unlike the magazines I’ve subscribed. What bothers me so much about this is they have other content they’re putting out between issues, which I paid for, yet they don’t send me an email to let me know it’s been released.
    [I’m glad I discovered this now as I wasn’t planning on publishing any material in-between issues.  I was only going to send out email notifications when a new issue is released, but I’ve learned from this it’s not a good idea to stay out of contact with my customers. I’ll have to think of something to send them just to stay in touch.  Letters to the editor (if there are any), perhaps?  That might help keep articles alive and conversations going. 
    To Do!  Consider ways of staying in contact with your customers between issues]
  • UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES never communicate with your customers, and then send them an email telling them they are family, especially when that email is asking for money. One of my paid magazine subscriptions was doing their summer fundraiser.  Asking for money was not that big of deal.  Never hearing from them and then telling me I’m like family was ludicrous.  Then I thought about it: only hear from you when you need money.  Yeah, I do have some family members like that, but I don’t want to hear from them.
  • NEVER EVER use heartbreaking personal stories to sell your products. That happened to me twice in one day.  I couldn’t believe it.   These people bared their souls in a story and at the end they tried to sell me something.  An ad at an end of email or article is no big deal, but the sales pitch was tied into the stories they used.  Never do that.

Subscriptions

  • Don’t ask for people’s preferences and then ignore them.  I’m tempted to unsubscribe from the one who did.  I wouldn’t be so peeved if they hadn’t asked, but to ask then ignore is annoying.  Every time they send me an email about something I specifically said I didn’t want to hear about I get a feeling of annoyance when I should be looking forward to reading their emails like I usually do.  Either don’t ask for preferences or respect their preferences if you do ask.
  • If you use a pop-up window asking people to subscribe to your site, don’t have it appear in the middle of the page after only 5 seconds. I was reading an article at one site and they referenced another article at another site.  I went to read that article and hadn’t finished the first paragraph before the window asking me to subscribe popped up.  Since I hadn’t enough time to check out the site or read the article I wasn’t ready to make that decision.  It was too soon.  Give people time to look over your site or have it pop-up where it doesn’t interfere with what they are doing.
    ! Place pop-up subscription-ask at bottom right-hand corner.  The movement catches their attention, but doesn’t get in the way. 
  • Have a fixed place where people can subscribe in addition to the pop-up window. After I had finished the article I decided I did want to subscribe to the site, but I could find no place to do that.  Apparently, it was only available through the pop-up window I had clicked out of.

Ad Placement

  • Should blend in seamlessly. I’m not quite sure what I mean by that but I remember the suggested posts Facebook used to put in the news feed were really annoying, then they changed something and I had no problem with them anymore.  I can’t remember what they were like before.  I think they were smaller.  Now, they look like just another post, so they seem seamless.  I may just mean don’t interrupt what they’re doing: like commercials and pop-up ads tend to do.
    I know this: ads in magazines and newspapers are usually around the periphery of the article(s) or on their own page.  How to do that on a webpage, especially a responsive webpage, may be a little harder.  I have no idea what happens to the side columns on a responsive website.
    To Do!  Go to a website on your mobile phone where you know they have ads on the side and see how and if they are displayed.
Posted in Notes from the Field

Day 20: Google Ads Don’t Make Sense

July 28, 2018

It’s been almost a year since I’ve posted a journal about the ministry.  That’s crazy.  They say time speeds by faster as you get older.  They sure weren’t whistling Dixie.

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I heard today on an ACT 8 YouTube video that 70% of the online advertising clicks are not from potential customers but from bots.  That has to mess up any numbers used to determine the effectiveness of any advertising campaign.  Say you spend enough to reach 100 people and you get 70 clicks.  That sounds to me like a good click-through rate and would get me really excited.  If it wasn’t for the fact that nothing was getting bought because bots don’t buy.  At this point, I would be thinking the advertising campaign was effective, but there was a problem farther down the road because there were no sales.  Was it my webpage? My prices?  Etc?  I’d be doing all of this when the real problem was with the ad because no humans clicked on it.  What I should be looking at was the ad itself, the demographics I’m trying to reach, etc.  Diverting manpower and money chasing down false trails could really mess me up my ministry.

To do! Find out if you can tell whether it’s a bot or human clicking on your ads.

Another problem is I might not have budgeted enough for advertising.  If I’m trying to reach 100 people and pay for 100 clicks, then I’m going to have to triple my advertising budget just to reach 90 people.  So, if my original budget was $100 I would have to adjust it up to $300.   I don’t think it costs $1 per click for doing those ads, but it does highlight the problem: the amount budgeted doesn’t have the reach I think it does and budgets will have to be adjusted accordingly.

And the stalking!!!  I never would have thought I would be stalked by a chair, but it happened online one day.  I went to a website and clicked on a chair.  Every website I visited after that was an ad for the chair.  I hate to break it to them, but If I was going to buy the chair I would have bought it at the time.  If I didn’t have the money, then I would have bought it later.   Showing me the chair ad nauseum only made me hate it.  Seriously, the only time I should have seen that chair again was something letting me know it was on sale.  If I hadn’t been stalked by the chair I may have kept it mind for a later purchase, but it’s never going to happen now.  And if I didn’t like it enough to buy it, then seeing it over and over again isn’t going to make me like it anymore.  That’s crazy!

To do! Consider adopting absence makes the heart grow fonder as an advertising rule-of-thumb.

The flip side of this is you rarely get to see new products.  I wanted to check out a website I wouldn’t normally visit because I heard they did a great job on Instagram branding. It was aimed at a different demographic and I decided while I was there I would see what type of products were being advertised.  Guess what?  The same products advertised on the all of the other websites I had been to that day.  That makes no sense.

Technically, since I was on the site then and I was looking at that product, then you could say that product matches that demographic.  But I was a definite outlier, so I should have seen products for the demographic the site was drawing in.  I don’t know if Google understands this (they don’t seem to), but I don’t mind seeing new products.  Matter of fact I like to see them.  Even if I won’t buy the product I still like to see what’s out there.  Google should change their algorithms and base them on the demographics of the actual site and not, necessarily, on where the individual has been that day.

I think I read somewhere advertising software exists which allows you to choose the ads which are displayed on your site.  Whether it was speaking of software like AdSense© I don’t know.  I’ll have to look into it further.

To do! Research advertising software.

Posted in Notes from the Field

Why won’t I Write?

I used to love to write posts for my blog.  Now I don’t.  It’s like my writing desire just got up and left one day.  No good-byes, no note, no nothing.  Just poof.  It’s gone.

So nothing’s getting written.  Not even a blog post.  I’ve stopped writing for some reason and I don’t know why.  I think part of it is I’ve gotten greedy with articles having to do with God.  Instead of writing them for the blog I save them for the magazine.  That should still leave me with things to write about because the blog was meant for commentary on things I’ve heard or read.  It turns out I’ve overestimated the variety of my interests. Seems most everything I read or listen to pertains to God and since those ideas are being saved for possible use in the magazine, I guess, I have nothing left to say.

There is one thing I still do and that’s write in my personal journal.  Even though, it’s not all that personal.  It’s usually my thoughts on a biblical passage, but not much about my life.  There are times, like this entry, where I’ll try to work through a problem, but there aren’t many of those.  They’re mostly about God.  I’m starting to see a theme:  I only seem to write when it involves God.  Am I really that focused on God?   I wouldn’t have thought so.  It seems to me I don’t spend enough time on God.  Hhmmm.

I see something else: I don’t spend much time writing about myself.  This could explain why I’m not posting any journal ministry entries either.  That’s sad because I not only wanted to keep them to look back on, but so others could learn from what I’ve experienced.

There’s also the fact that most of what I’m doing is magazine specific and I don’t want the journal entries to be about magazines.  I want them to be about the experience of stepping out in faith into the unknown.  That’s not going to happen, unless I start writing about myself a little bit more.  [action item]

Another thing which keeps me from writing is the rewriting, second guessing myself, and deciding where and whether to publish it.  After reviewing and revising a post a couple of times I’m pretty sick of it.  Or I get half finished and start to wonder if it’s even worth the time and trouble.   I received the solution to these problems during prayer.  It was go ahead and write the article then determine what should be done with it: blog post, magazine, or trash can.

As if I didn’t have enough problems there’s the lack of time and energy.  When I started this ministry I was in an optimal position as far as time and energy was concerned, but that’s all changed.  Now, I have less of both.  It got crazy around here.  [I didn’t think it was possible, but it got even crazier around here since I began writing this.] More and more is getting dumped on me.  It’s getting very hard to keep up with, much less work on anything personal.

One way to do that is only commit to blog posts for the Journal Ministry entries.  If I choose to write other posts, then all well and good.  If not, then all well and good.  Also, they are going to be true journal entries.  Up until now the writing style has been too influenced by trying to attract readers with the suggestions on what to do or how to do it. I don’t know if I’ve read too many blogs, but I’m sick of these types of posts.  Do this and you’re life will be great.  Do that and it will be improved.  Solve this with that and that with this.  Blech!  It’s not that I don’t appreciate people trying to help others.  It’s the tone I don’t like: sales pitchy.  I’m going to write my experiences and that’s it. If a reader receives help from them, then I’m glad I could be of service.  If they decide they would do it a different way, then that’s great, too.  They’ve now discovered what not to do: that’s 1 down and 10,000 ways left to discover.

May God watch over you and keep you!

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
Posted in Notes from the Field

Coming to Grips with Being Chosen

February 8, 2018

I had the strangest dream last night.  Everything was black except for this green mask in the background.  Then a voice said, “You’ve got to believe you’ve been chosen.”  An odd dream which caused me to wonder if I did believe.  I’ve never thought of it in those terms.  God said, “Why don’t you start a magazine”, or something along those lines and I said, “Okay.”  At the time, I thought it was an odd choice.  One that didn’t mesh with my talents, but (as can be expected) I was proved wrong.  Yet, I never questioned that God wanted me to do it.  I do have to say, though, there is a surreality about it all.  Perhaps, I don’t believe.

So . . . chosen, huh?  I’m not fond of the title.  It denotes honor.  Not that there’s anything wrong with honor, per se, but being honored by God means so much more.  It’s like being inducted into the Hall of Fame.  That doesn’t mesh with how I view myself.  I never considered myself one of the players. Instead, I’ve always felt a part of the crowd.  So it’s like one moment I’m sitting in the stands, the next I’m in the Hall of Fame, and no one has told me why.  I only have my own judgment to go by and it’s telling me I don’t belong there.   The entire experience has become surreal because of it.

Chosen.  Considering my problems with pride not an honorific I’m willing to embrace.  It’s too easy to move from that to the Chosen One.  If that doesn’t give me a big head, then I don’t know what will. 

Chosen people?  That’s a little better, not so singular, but not so great either considering what happened to the Pharisees.  They got so jealous of their position they lost sight of what they were about.  Look how that ended.  No, it won’t eliminate my problems with pride.

Chosen for a job?  A definite improvement.  The kingdom of God is massive and has many positions which need to be filled.  Mine is just one of them.  Looking at it this way puts it in terms I can wrap my head around.  It also gives me a greater sense of community: one of many working towards the same common goal.  Of course, it also lessens the honor, but with it goes the pride.  In its place I can appreciate the blessing bestowed on me. 

Yet, for all that I have this sense I’m missing some point regarding faith.  Hmmm.

. . .

As much as thinking of my ministry as being a job helps, it lacks faith.  The Holy Spirit expressed it to me during prayer, “God choosing us should be all the approbation we need.”  And I get it.  Who better to judge our fitness for a job than He who is omniscient?  Who better to know how things are going to turn out?  Me, who can see no farther into the future than her nose, or God, who knows exactly what’s going to happen?

What a great definition for faith: substituting God’s judgment for our own.  This is such a game changer.  It doesn’t matter if I don’t believe I’m not up to the task because God knows better and He chose me. 

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Photo generously donated by Alexander Shustov @Unsplash

Posted in Notes from the Field

Getting Started in Your New Ministry

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July 18, 2017

First an update on why nothing has been posted on the blog.  Frankly, after going through the arduous (at this stage it is truly arduous) task of editing and rewriting a post I’m tired of looking at it.  Having lost its luster in my own eyes it’s hardly something I want to share with anyone else.  It ends up in a computer file with a bunch of other unpublished posts. I don’t know how writers maintain enthusiasm for their work.  Maybe that’s why they invented editors.  Perhaps they knew if they didn’t writers would never turn anything in and nothing would ever get published.  That would be the end of any and all publications: not book, no magazines or blogs. Nothingness.

That’s plenty about me.  Let’s focus on you.

The Delft Design Approach

So you have an idea of what you want to do, but no idea of how to bring that idea to fruition.  You’re entirely mystified on how to get started.  The most likely reason you’re having problems is the form the final product or service is going to take hasn’t been visualized yet.  The course Product Design: The Delft Design Approach being offered by the Delft University of Technology at EdX.org can help.  I’ve just started the course, but I can already see how it can be applied in this area.

So let’s say you discovered there’s no soup kitchen in your small town.  You want to change that and start serving breakfast and dinner.  The first step is a thought experiment.  You start by making a timeline of how you imagine you would carry out that service.  You’ll want to include as much detail as possible.  This needs to include the place you’ll be when carrying out the task, the items or tools you use to accomplish it, etc.  The idea here is to make you aware of the resources you will need and discovering areas you’re not sure of and will need further research.

The image belowshows a timeline I started for the fictional soup kitchen.  You’ll notice I also included questions I thought of as I wrote up the timeline.  You can do that now or you can wait until you finish the timeline and then study it to ascertain any questions that arise.  I kept it fairly simple, but even with just a few items on the timeline I was already thinking about funding sources, bookkeeping systems, the number of people I would be feeding, etc.  If I was to continue  on I’d soon figure out I’d need a filing system for the receipts, a place to store the uncooked food, pots and pans large enough to cook the food, etc.  That type of information will be a big help in getting you started on your new ministry.

Timeline

In the previous image I wrote up a timeline from the perspective of one performing the service.  The Delft Design Approach is about designing for the user.  With this in mind you can also make up a timeline for a fictional homeless person who will eat at your soup kitchen.  A portion of that timeline is portrayed in the image below.  You’ll notice that timeline generated a different set of questions which may have never occurred to me if I had only focused on how I was going to perform the task.  For instance, that they have to walk to the soup kitchen might never have showed up on the other timeline.  It’s sounds like it would be obvious, but if you’re not homeless, than it just might not have occurred to me.

Timeline

You’ll notice the second timeline includes images and emoticons.  Images are used to help you visualize what’s going on and the emoticons are how the person feels at each step of the way.  You could also them on your own timeline to help you get a better grip on how your new ministry would play out and how you feel about it.

There’s more to the Delft Design Approach than I’ve posted here.  I think the timeline will help you start giving form to the call you feel in your heart.   If you’d like to learn more about the Approach, you can enroll in the online course.  There’s a $49.00 fee if you want to receive a certificate of completion.  Otherwise, you can audit the course for free or a donation amount of your choice.  Whatever you choose good luck and God bless!

Posted in Notes from the Field

Long Time, No Write

July 1, 2017

It’s been so long since I’ve posted anything about the magazine.  There’s a reason . . . well, a couple of them, actually.  First, I discovered I had truly overestimated my knowledge of grammar.  I knew I didn’t remember much, but I knew even less than I thought I did.  So I’ve undertaken the task of learning more about the subject.  Unfortunately, it’s  so very boring and really not worth writing about.  That is, unless you’re teaching it or complaining about it, then it might be worth a line or two. 

One of my co-workers suffering a stroke is the second reason.  Fortunately, he came through much better than we expected–thanks be to God–, but he’s still down for the count.  I’m trying to take up the slack to the extent that I’m able, but that means I’m pretty beat by the end of the day.  This leaves me with very little inclination to try to overcome my lack of motivation towards learning grammar.  To make matters worse, each time I do start a lesson the first line of the song “Conjunction Junction,” from the old School House Rock episode, pops into my head  and refuses to leave.  As a result, I end up rocking out to “Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?” instead of studying.  It really is a snappy little tune. I’ve posted it below in case you missed it:

Maybe, I should just watch old School House Rock videos to pick up my grammar skills.  That could be a valid option at this point.  It just might give me the needed push to get me going.  Worst case scenario would be learning a line from a different song that could endlessly repeat in my brain.  At least, then it would add a little variety.

""

I haven’t been completely useless, though.  Trying to get into an editorial mindset I’ve been playing around with how to present graphics on the blog and in social media that look more magaziny.  Since that takes so long in Photoshop, I’m picking up some graphite and colored pencils tomorrow for the sketching class I’ll soon be starting.  This should not only help me sketch layouts, but also help me articulate what I do or don’t like about a photo/drawing/layout.  Also, towards articulation purposes, I’ve been studying up on reading and writing. People are going to need feedback that’ll provide them with clear direction.  “Meh” is not going to do it.

The plan from there is to find blogs in a variety of styles.  From these, I’ll pull articles which I’ll use to practice my burgeoning skills.  The article will be edited and my comments added as to what’s working for me and what needs improvement.  Then I’ll rewrite it to make the actual corrections and see how it worked out.  Using the blogs color scheme and style I’ll then try to sketch out a magazine layout for it.  This’ll induce me to work with different color schemes and typefaces and, once again, critique it.

That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing or not doing, depending on how you look at it.  Design and, now, grammar are the two things I know the least about, so those have been my focus.  Unfortunately, it does not make for interesting blog posts.  I did make the exception this time just to keep you updated, but if I’m not writing it’s because “Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?” is doing an endless loop through my brain.

God bless you!

Posted in Notes from the Field

Organization is Key when Starting a New Ministry

""Many challenges come with starting a new ministry from conquering a huge learning curve to tackling bureaucratic red tape.  You can expect to spend your time researching, planning, and brainstorming resulting in a copious amount of notes, tasks, and ideas.  What you may not expect is how fast you can forget or lose track of them.  There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to decipher a two-month old idea  that had been jotted down on the fly or wasting time trying and failing to find notes on a subject you researched; especially, if it means having to spend precious time researching it again. To prevent this you’ll need some way to keep track of it all.   This is especially true for those that aren’t used to working with large projects. I know because this is a challenge I recently faced.

Unfortunately, many an idea and research was lost before I figured out my old system couldn’t handle the new workload.  So to help you get started out on the right foot I’m sharing the solution I finally came up with. Because you may already have a system that you like, I’m also sharing the method I used to overcome the deficiencies in my old system.

Pre-ministry I had a very simple system in place for tracking tasks and appointments/birthdays/deadlines.  The tasks were written on Post-it® flags and put in the daily planner. Appointments were written in on a one-page monthly calendar.  Tracking tasks for small project and lists was as easy as writing them down on stickies and organizing them on a sheet of paper by subject: “Places to Visit”, “Books to Read”, “Vacation Planner”.  When it was time to perform a task it was moved from the project/list sheet into the daily planner.   It was woefully deficient in tracking research notes, resources, and capturing ideas.  That needed to change.

 1. First order of business, determine what’s working and what’s not

  • The system already in place for to-dos was easily expandable, so no problem with having a massive amount of tasks.
  • I like flexibility in a planner, so I used Post-it® flags to write down all of my tasks. They can easily be moved from a project sheet to a current task list or switched from one day to another.  I tried using the same technique with ideas. That way when I was ready to implement them I could just move them to the planner. However, I found the size of the Post-it® flags was too small.   There just wasn’t room to write down the information needed that to would make it easy to recall the idea later.
  • The notes from books, videos, online courses, and ideas that won’t come into play until later were getting buried. Without some type of organization they may never be seen again.  That’s a lot of wasted time and effort.  This definitely needed to be fixed.

2. Next, come up with possible solutions

  • Use larger Post-it® notes for article ideas.
  • Try to be more concise when writing article ideas.
  • Keep all notes about one subject together in a 3-ring binder with dividers. Have the binder just be for those notes that pertain to the ministry.

3. Then, evaluate your solutions

  • I’ve tried using larger Post-it® notes in the past, but they just take up too many pages. Even though I’ve had to expand the number of pages of to-dos, I’ve been able to do it logically by category, so I’m still retaining order.  Each category is one page which makes it easy to locate, scan the different tasks and prioritize.  I’ll lose that by using larger Post-its®.
  • Being more concise is a good goal to work towards. Keep this in mind, but I should have something else set up for those tasks or ideas where concise just isn’t going to be enough.  Sometimes I already know the articles main points and I need to capture that information while I have it in mind.
  • The binder idea is better, but doesn’t help making the contents easy to locate.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 as needed until you come up with something that does work for you

Second reiteration

Step one: what’s working and what’s not

  • I haven’t resolved the problem with the small size of the stickies I’m using. I really want to keep those.
  • Everything is organized, but still not easily to locate.

Step two: possible solutions

  • I could make up an alphabetized index of the notes I’m taking and the ideas I have. That way everything will be together in one place, the subjects will be easily scanned and easy to locate.
    • Need to come up with some kind of numbering system for notes pages to reference in the index.
      • With a numbering system in place I can write down my ideas in greater depth on paper and reference that page on the sticky in case I need a memory jog. This means I can keep using the small size Post-Its® that works so well in other areas.

Step three: evaluate solutions

  • The indexing should work as long as I do it on the computer and not on paper. With paper it will be too hard to insert new entries in alphabetical order.  Using MS Word I can easily insert a new entry anywhere in the index.
  • Using the index will allow me to cross-reference and perform a search, if needed.
  • Do I really need that 3-ring binder with the dividers? Since I’ll be numbering the pages couldn’t I just have one small notebook with everything in it?  Many of my ideas are triggered when I’m studying.  Rather than having to go to another section of a binder and pull out a different paper to write down the idea, I could jot it down right then and there.  As long as I know where to find it does it matter where it’s located?

5. Give it a test run and fine tune using steps 1-4

  • The new system is working so well I’ve decided to use it for capturing notes on anything I want to keep for future reference and not just for notes pertaining to the ministry. I’m also using it to jot down the locations of any documents, resources, or reference material I’ve found online or downloaded and filed in my computer.
  • It’s been a little tricky trying to determine the correct subject to index them under, so I’ll know where to look them up in the future. This was solved by making multiple entries under different subjects for the same notes.
  • It does take a little time to index. This is especially true when I’m cross-referencing.  When it seems a little too time consuming I just remember how much more time I’d be spending re-looking things up or how upset I’d be at losing a good article idea.
  • Ditched the binder and ended up using a small 8″ x 5″ 80 sheet notebook. It’s small enough to fit in my purse and doesn’t claim much desk space.  I will probably end up needing more than one, but they can be numbered and easily stored, so I don’t see it as a problem.

The Final Solution

I ended up writing everything learned, resources discovered, digital document file locations, and ideas in one 8″ x 5″ notebook.  Ideas are captured in greater fullness in the notebook, a shorter description of the idea, along with the notebook page number, is written on a Post-It® flag, so I’ll remember it.   No more lost ideas.

There’s no logical order to the notes.  The order comes from the index kept in a MS Word document.   The entries are indexed at the end of the day or when finished taking notes.  I still use Post-it® notes for all tasks, they’re just more pages of tasks.  I also kept the one-month calendar for appointments, birthdays, and deadlines.  So far it’s meeting all of my needs, whether that stays true in the future remains to be seen.

It may seem like a lot of work because I’ve listed every detail, but it really didn’t take that long, nor was it very hard. The longest and hardest part was articulating what I wanted and needed.  After that it was just a matter of trial and error: keeping what was working and throwing out what wasn’t; until a system was in place that met my specific needs. This made it worth the time and effort.  You and your ministry are also worth it, so invest in yourself, if your current system isn’t all that it should be.  You’ll thank yourself later.

Good luck and remember God would not have given you the responsibility for a ministry, if He didn’t think you weren’t up to the task!  God has faith in you even when you don’t.

Posted in Notes from the Field

Book Review: “Discover your Next Mission from God” by Julie Onderko

Discover Your Next Mission from God by [Onderko, Julie]So you’ve been trying to discern what your mission from God is or whether “mission” even applies to you.  You’ve heard about Julie Onderko’s book “Discover Your Next Mission From God” and you’re wondering if you should pick it up.  My advice to you is yes, you should.

The book is an admixture of how-to and reassurance.  You should purchase it, if you feel you are not qualified for a mission due to your age, past, and/or current circumstances.  In the book Onderko, using examples from the lives of the saints, assures us that there is no age qualification for performing some service to God, no past God cannot use for the good, and no disqualifying circumstances, and none too ordinary.  This last point is especially significant considering the current culture where simply being a parent, single, married, or, heck, being male or female can be of extraordinary service to God when lived according to our faith.

This brings up the most significant thing I learned from Onderko’s book: our primary mission is being a good Christian.  A simple idea when you think about it, but one few of us realize.  I know I hadn’t until I read this book.  Onderko is absolutely correct when she says finding your mission will define and focus your life.  Understanding Christian as mission a long time ago would have been a great help in keeping me focused on the truly important.

While I don’t want to downplay that mission, Onderko asserts that there is yet another mission that is specifically tailored to each individual and only that person is uniquely qualified to carry it out.  Fortunately, the way to discover it also lends itself to furthering  our primary mission of being a Christian, so it does not become a matter of either or, but one of building up and on top of a solid foundation in Christ.  This is done by drawing closer to Christ whether that be through acquiring the virtue of humility; an increased or more sincere prayer life; relying on our guardian angel, St. Joseph, and the Blessed Virgin Mary; spiritual direction from a director, a priest, and/or holy friends; and discernment through the corporeal and spiritual works of mercy.  These are tried and true methods and there is possibly no other way to discern and fulfill our mission.

What you won’t find in her book is any reassurance about failing.  Onderko does give assurances that God can get you pointed back in the right direction when you’ve headed in the wrong one by starting a mission different from the one God has planned. She also assures us that God equips us for our mission, but no assurance that we won’t fail.  I was surprised by this because so many people have this fear.  Now, it may be a moot point.  If we have the required relationship with Christ, have discerned our mission correctly, and God equips us, then failure is, most likely, not a valid fear and need not be addressed.  However, “Discover your Next Mission from God” would be greatly improved if that point was made explicit, since it is of concern to so many.

The only other criticism I have to offer is the title.  Only because the title led me to believe the book to be written for those that have already overcome any misgivings about their abilities or circumstances in life and are ready to get started.  With that expectation assurances weren’t something I welcomed.  As I kept reading them I began to wonder who Onderko’s audience was.  It wasn’t me.  Upon reflection, I decided there may be those out there who would like to be of greater service to God, but do have those issues.  Desiring to help God, still uncertain they are suitable, they may still decide to pick up the book.  In that case, the assurances are entirely valid and I stand corrected.

Posted in Notes from the Field

Today was a Day for Lessons or . . . I’ve Been Schooled

May 8, 2017

As the magazine is a one woman show at the moment I’m trying to learn every facet of magazine publishing.  What one soon finds out is putting theory into practice isn’t that simple. This has been especially true for me in the area of design where I’ve been trying to test out what I’ve been learning.  It has not been going well, especially, in the area of color.  Honestly, my 8 yr. old granddaughter could do a better job of putting colors together.  Thankfully, I came across a video on how to make up and use a color scheme by Niki Hart at DesignProcademy.com.  It was incredibly helpful and I can’t thank her enough.

If that had been my only problem, then I would have called it a day.  What I’m finding out is one problem solved actually opens up the door to other issues.  Having finally, gotten the mission statement in order actually helped me to focus on the types of articles that would be included in each issue.  Yay!  However, it also led to including articles that would kind of be pointing out faults that we, as Christians, might want to overcome, so that we can grow closer to God.  The problem: whose going to read an article that points out their faults?  I was puzzling over this when I sat down to peruse some blogs I follow and here comes Brother Isaac over at Along the Way with a post doing just that.  Since it happened to be one of my faults it really hit home.   But you know what?  It wasn’t offensive at all.  I was actually grateful because Brother Isaac did it in such a way that led to my correction without being offended.  Lesson learned: if handled correctly articles like that will be of use to people.  Also, another problem popping up isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Just as there are more problems, there are also more solutions.  Take heart!

The last lesson was the hardest. Probably, because it caught me off guard.  It started out innocently enough with a comment I put on another bloggers post regarding Rod Dreher’s book “The Benedict Option.”  I felt that the blogger had completely mischaracterized Dreher intent and pointed it out with a direct quote from the book contradicting what the blogger claimed.  The blogger didn’t agree with me, which was fine, but it was the way  he did it that was the problem.  He just ignored anything I had to say instead of rebutting my statement or stating reasons why he didn’t agree.  In that instant, the blogger lost all legitimacy in my eyes.  He was no longer someone I was interested in hearing what he had to say.  (For the record, the blogger did supply a rebuttal recently.)

If it was just that, then it wouldn’t have been a lesson.  The two subjects I spend the most time discussing online are God and politics.  The way the internet is so full of hate today you can’t do that, if you aren’t a little thick-skinned.  You just learn to ignore some people and keep on moving forward.  This is how I would have normally handled the blogger’s reply, so no lesson there.

Nor was it the fact that I felt the person was wrong in their views.  All of us are wrong at some time or another.  I read blogs whose opinions I don’t wholeheartedly agree with all of the time.  I still enjoy them and I still learn from them, so no lesson there, either.  It was how hard it hit me that left me feeling I had been schooled.  The realization that such a small thing could have such a dramatic effect on how I viewed someone felt like it was being impaled into my brain.

Was this a continuation of the previous lesson learned?  Brother Isaac shows me what to do and the other blogger what not to do?  Two sides of the same coin?  Or was it now that God has put this magazine in my sights, I’m paying more attention to issues that may come into play later and that’s driving these lessons home?  I’m not really sure, but I am thankful that I’m learning them now from someone else, rather than later, from my own mistakes.

Here’s hoping everyone has a great day!

 

 

Posted in Notes from the Field

Yay! I Have a Mission Statement for the Magazine!

May 7, 2017

Well, today was a good day.  After, not being able to quite figure out the types of stories that would be included in each department I took some advice from the books I’ve been reading and decided I needed a mission statement.  The idea behind the mission statement is that it will keep you focused on what you originally set out to do.  It’s especially helpful in evaluating whether a course of action is really in line with your goals.  If it’s not, then toss it.  In my case, it will help me determine what type of articles to include in the magazine.

It took awhile to figure out because according to “The Layers of Magazine Editing” by Michael Robert Evans it can arise in two ways.  The first way is by focusing on your audience and what type of material they want.  The second way is to use your inspiration for starting the magazine.  The first wasn’t helping at all, so went the inspiration route and came up with to bring all people closer to God. 

I have to admit it seems a little grandiose in it’s goal, and I don’t believe I will accomplish that mission. However, that was what was in my heart, so I went with it.  While I’ll try to bring out the best magazine I’m capable of so as to achieve that mission, I’m really relying  on God to determine it’s affect on the world. 

Besides being grandiose, from what I’ve read about mission statements, that’s a pretty broad statement and should probably be tightened up a bit.  Much easier to stay on track, if  it’s more narrowly defined.  When a statement is too broad, you can take on too wide a variety of projects or articles, in my case.  This leads to inconsistency between issues which can cause you to lose subscribers because readers have certain expectations that you need to meet each issue. However, as a starting point it helped a lot, so I’ll stick with it until I can nail it down a little better.

 

 

Posted in Notes from the Field

Kicking my Game up a Notch

April 25, 2017

Study, study, study.  That’s how my time is being spent these evenings.  I am thankful that there are materials to study because it has been fruitful. Thank God for the courses available on Coursera and EdX, plus the information available on YouTube.  It’s all beginning to sink in.  Mainly they’ve been about graphic design.  There’s nothing on magazine publishing, so I had to research those areas a little more.  Found the colleges for magazine publishing that are considered to have the best programs and looked through their course catalogs for that major, found those courses and made up a list of the textbooks/readings they use from the course syllabuses.   Once I finish the online courses I can start digging into those books/readings.

At some point in this process, it hit me that a magazine is not a blog and I’m going to have kick up my game a notch.  This is especially true when it comes to research and writing.  Right now, writing of God is inspired, but will that be enough for a magazine?  Or will I have to go through the laborious process of citing every Biblical passage involved and providing explanations for how those passages apply?  That will definitely change the style of story and writing.  Have to figure out how to handle that.  What I don’t want it to become is some dry research article.  Magazine stories may allow more emotion than those or newspaper stories.  God sure knows what He’s doing.  He knows me down to my toes.  I have no desire to write boring research papers.

On the upside, I have come up with the different departments for the magazine.  Then it came down to what type of stories fall under those categories . . . and the real kicker: how and where will I find them?  The book on being a magazine editor has addressed this issue to some extent, but I still have to do it, so I need to search out sources for those.  In addition, I need to learn how to do interviews.  I have so much to learn.

All this learning has left me with little time for writing.  I don’t think that’s good, so I’ve decided to put more focus on that and scale back that learning a little.  To that end I want to push out two blog posts per week.  This will also allow me to play with a new writing style that will bring the story and references together (once I learn how to do that) in something entertaining and informative.  I pray.

Posted in Notes from the Field

What is Man?

""

April 18, 2017

It’s funny how you can hear something said 100 times and it’s all just words which, though that have meaning, don’t truly penetrate into our inner being.  Then one day your writing one of the features for the magazine and your faced with the question of why?  Why does God go to all the bother of creating man? teaching us? adopting us? redeeming us? sacrificing His Son for us? bestowing on us the power to become children of God? keeping careful watch over us? residing in and among us? loving us? weeping over us?

What is man that God should do all of this for us?

I don’t know that I have the answer to that question.  The only possibility I can come up with is our capacity to love to such an extent that we are willing to sacrifice ourselves for God and others.  And we do it because of faith.  A faith that sustains until the end.  A faith that lifts us to become something greater than what we currently are.  Without that we would be like the secular world using/sacrificing others for our own pleasure. 

I don’t know if that is the answer, but God certainly let me see how much He has, is, and will do for us, so I’m a little in awe of man right now. 

I don’t even know how to act anymore.""

All mixed up in this somehow was the idea of God building the Blessed Virgin Mary a house.  Similar to when He built David a house.  That house is the Holy Catholic Church.

Posted in Notes from the Field

Layouts and Typeface and Colors . . . Oh, My!

March 27, 2017

Spent most of last week trying to figure out how to go about designing a magazine.  Watched hours of YouTube videos on graphic design theory.  Went on Pinterest to look at images of different magazine layouts.  Discovered that all magazine layouts look ugly on Pinterest.  Spent some time in the store checking our different magazines, and, I’m happy to say, they look much better close up.  Not all of them though.  Can’t quite figure out what I don’t like about them. 

Decided I needed to choose some fonts, so spent all of Saturday making sample cards of most of the different fonts on my computer.  Found about five that I really liked, but soon discovered they don’t work so well together.  Luckily, I had made up those sample cards, and that’ll  make it easy to go back through them to find something that does work together.

What color scheme to use?  There’s a great website called Design Seeds that is nothing but color schemes.  Unfortunately, have no idea how to use a color scheme.  How much variety should be used?  Does it change with every issue? At this point, I’m considering asking people for advice and God says no.  It needs to be me.  That made it a little easier.  Now I can go by just what I like, while bearing in mind what I’ve learned and will learn.  These are very talented people and they are doing things for a reason.  It would be stupid to throw all of that out the window.  It does let me make it my own, though, rather than trying to adhere to some other persons design.  And that is what I would have done, if God hadn’t stepped in.  What Design Seeds did teach me is I can get color schemes from pictures I like.  Found some of my favorite pics on Unsplash and will use those for inspiration.  Apparently, I like dark rich colors, but I also like clean, simple images.  That’s what I’ve decided to go with.

Did start working on the cover design.  God helped me with that one. Gave me an idea to start with.  Up to that point was hitting a blank wall. Very happy with the way the title looks.  I’m hoping it’s not second grade level: something that I’ll look at in a couple of years and ask myself what was I thinking.

The really hard question is how often should the magazine come out?  Finally made that decision.  It’ll be a quarterly magazine to start.  That should give me enough time between editions to do all that needs done as it is really a one woman show at this point.  I do miss writing on the blog, though.

To top everything off the cat has decided to take over my desk chair.  If I leave it for two minutes he’s in it and asleep.  When I pick him up to move him I get this pitiful little mew.  After a week of this, I finally let him win and started working on the laptop in another room.  At that point, he decided he no longer needed to sleep in my desk chair.  Stupid cat.

Posted in Notes from the Field

Lessons in Humility

 

March 1, 2017

I had originally planned to post  Who’s Offense and Who’s Defense in Spiritual Warfare on the 28th.  At the latest, 3/2.  Then yesterday, I had decided to incorporate some magazine ideas into the blog.  Since magazines are themed and I knew that I could write another couple of post related to the Who’s Offense and Who’s Defense . . . post, I was going to hold it until I could write those additional articles and figure out ways to reference the others from inside each of them.  (At some point, I’m going to have to have some time to get my mind around all of this, instead of trying to do everything on the fly.)  It would have been a mini-magazine with the cover and the Letter from the Editor in the This Week post and the related articles released during the week.  A kinda slow release mini-magazine.  Then Lord Jesus said no.  It had to go out on the 2nd.  I was a little miffed, but followed his lead.

So then I’m writing and getting to a part that I’m really excited about and Lord Jesus says “to be continued . . . ”  I’m like, noooooooo!”, but I did it.  I have to admit, if one was going to stop, it was a really good place to stop: which one would expect from God.  It made it complete.  If I had kept on like I had wanted, it would have really been two posts stuck together.  First lesson in humility.Then I get the urge to go back and read Turns Out I’m Actually Suited for this Ministry  and I see a formatting error in the first two sentences.  This was funny because the post was about the editorial qualities I thought I possessed and one of those was detail-oriented. 

I was really tempted to leave it that way as a lesson in humility, but then decided, since I’m new to all of this, there will be plenty more lessons forthcoming, I’m sure.

I do need to step up my game.  I’m journaling almost daily and it’s very difficult to catch errors without stepping away from it for awhile.  However, I am posting them out far enough ahead that if I proof them one last time the night before they go out, I should be able to catch most of the errors.

God bless!

Posted in Notes from the Field

What was in the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Heart of Hearts?

March 5, 2017

I can tell you from my personal experience when you start to realize that God is supplying your heart’s desires it’s a little bewildering.  The first thing that perplexes you is why. “Why me?” “Why now?”  “What did I miss?” Sort of like David when God told Him He would build David a house. The first thing David asked was, “Why?” 

Another perplexing thing is the form God uses to answer your prayers.  God is answering many of my prayers and He is doing it in the form of a magazine about God.  I never prayed to run a magazine someday.  As far as I know I never even considered it.  I didn’t even like English in school.  What I did pray for was a return to my former relationship with God, to hear the wonderful things about Him, to be in a position to write about God all day, to be God’s scribe, to have people return to Him, to live a more integrated life with God, . . .  And in answer, (even though I didn’t realize it at the time), God told me to start a magazine.  And for that I am incredibly thankful.

But still a little perplexed because in my wildest imaginings I wouldn’t have guessed this would be the form the answers to my prayers would take.  So it took me awhile to realize God was granting my desires.  If you go to the Godfest page you will see a bullet list of prayers of the heart God is answering in the form of a magazine.  If you had to come up with one thing that would satisfy those desires would you have come up with a magazine?  I wouldn’t.  But this is classic God: taking all of these little various pieces or strings and tying them together, so they are all answered/end in one thing/point.  Because God does it all so neatly it’s hard to recognize they are being answered. When God first suggested a magazine I was truly bewildered as to why and clueless that my prayers were being answered.

Adding to the perplexity, some things are obvious answers to prayers, but some are not. As I said previously God was granting me desires I didn’t even realize I had because I had quashed them so long ago.   When it isn’t readily apparent you find yourself trying to look into your heart and wondering if this was something you truly desired.  So I can really see why at different points in her life, the Blessed Virgin Mary would ponder things in her heart.  Because with all I’ve been learning I can confidently say God was granting the Blessed Virgin Mary the desires of her heart.  It does make me wonder what was in her  heart of hearts that would result in the Christ child?

I can’t say for sure, but one day I was nattering on in my mind about how nice it would be if God saw things my way once in awhile.  I think I was going through one of those periods where God is getting you somewhere that is good for you.  Once He gets you there it’s all good, but the getting there is not always pleasant.  This is especially true when you can’t see where you’re heading and you have some attachment to what you’re leaving.  Anyway, I must have been going on for some time because God finally interrupted me and said, “I”ll only give you those thing that we both agree are good.1”  And that I think is the key to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s heart.  A heart so perfectly formed all the desires held there aligned completely with God’s and could be wholly answered in one form: the Christ child.

This is another thing Christ won for Himself at Golgotha: a people after His own heart.  A people whose desires of the heart could only be answered with God.""1 There really is no difference in the end result.  God is still not going to give me something that’s not good for me and deep down I truly don’t want what God rejects as good.  In addition, God gives us the grace to get us where we do appreciate and want what He wants, so we end up calling the same things good anyway.  What that episode did was let me know God cares about what I want, too.  Salvation is more inclusive than forgiveness of sins, but about bringing the entire person to a place where the life of God and man join together.  Sometimes Christianity just doesn’t feel like that.

Posted in Notes from the Field

Is This What the Promised Land Looks Like?

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March 3, 2017

Since God made me realize the start of something new makes us vulnerable to temptation and I happen to be at the start of this ministry I’ve been trying to look ahead to how I’ll feel in about 40 days.  I’m having a hard time accomplishing it because I’m receiving so many blessings right now.  But then I started thinking about the Hebrew people in the wilderness.  I imagine they were feeling pretty good about life in the beginning, too.  God had just delivered them out of bondage, defeated Pharaoh’s army, was leading them to the Promised Land, and providing manna from Heaven each day.  For all that, they begin to pine for their old way of life.  And I can see why they might. 

Seems to me the less grounded one is in the familiar and the more time spent in the unfamiliar one is going to long for something solid in their life.  Since, the familiar was behind them, longing for those things seems logical for the Hebrew people to want when trying to get on firmer ground.  We know how to navigate the familiar.  We know where to go to get food, we know what time we have to be at work, and we know who wakes up grumpy and we know to steer clear of them until they’re fully awake.  We have all of these markers to guide us.  Not so when we decide to step out in faith.

Stepping out in faith seems akin  to trying to walk on water: incredibly insubstantial. It’s based on a promise.  A promise that is as good as gold, but without the necessary faith we can quickly find ourselves in over our heads as I did when I  jumped in with both feet.  It bears remembering that is was not Lord Jesus who asked that of Peter, but Peter who asked that of Him.  When God brought the Hebrew people our of Egypt He parted the sea, so they could walk on firm ground.  Then He led them through the desert.

The desert is very similar to the ocean in that the sands, like water,  shift underneath your feet, and without landmarks, there’s just endless rolling dunes , so, like the ocean, you still need to look to the heavens for guidance. Much like the wise men following the star to Bethlehem.  But it’s different from the ocean in that there is ground beneath your feet, even if a little less firm than you’re used to, which makes for hard going, but it’s not an entirely different substance and, unless there is quicksand about, you don’t have to worry that with each step you may end up over your head. 

It’s like going to visit a relative who lives in a town you’ve never been before.  You don’t know the streets or landmarks and you don’t know how long it will take to get there, but you do know how to drive, and you do know towns, you have direction, and you know the destination. By good direction, faith in the one giving it, the humility to follow it, the resolution to stay the distance, and not losing sight of it all you can get there.   

I think that is a much better analogy for a ministry.  When the Hebrews left Israel they took all of their substance: their goods, knowledge, skills they had acquired in Egypt, and faith in God.  They did not leave empty.  What they had to learn in the wilderness was how to trust God, to follow His direction, and to put that substance in the service of God.  Where they were lacking God provided.

And I do have God giving me direction, I do have some skills and, what I lack, Lord Jesus is teaching me, and I know the destination: working with Lord Jesus, (I cannot do this type of magazine on my own), on a magazine about God which will allow me to live  the life I’ve longed for.  For we do long for God in our daily lives.  We do long for a closer relationship with Lord Jesus here on earth.

All of this makes me wonder: Is this what the promised land looks like?  Is this what God meant for the Hebrew people when He led them out of Egypt?  Not only to remove them from a life of bondage; a life spent in service building up someone eles’s kingdom, a someone who has no interest in your well-being, but only what you can do for them: for that is what slavery is.  A kingdom that expects more and more of you, while giving less and less back.  Whereas, God supplies you with what you need before you even know you need it.  And God doesn’t use us and discard us.  It’s not a master/slave relationship, but a marriage of God and us.  And God bringing us to a place where that marriage can happen.  Where we can live that life with God that in our heart of hearts we’ve always wanted.""I hadn’t realized that a ministry would be such an enlightening spiritual journey.  For this alone I would recommend anyone start one when God calls them to it.

Posted in Notes from the Field

I’ve Always Lacked Vision

March 3, 2017

I’ve never been artistic, nor really been attracted to taking it up.  There are two exceptions of which I’m aware: sculpting and mosaics. Yet, I’ve never done either of those unless you count Play-doh and a ceramics class in high school.  So I was rather surprised when I found myself quite happily trying to mold the magazine into some form.  It occurred to me that this would be similar to sculpting. That was a surprise because I had always been attracted to sculpting.  Later I was thinking about redoing the image for My Ministry Journal entry posts to provide more variety from post to post.  As I was considering how to go about that I realized that the images should really be laid out so when viewed in a column the colors would go together: like a mosaic. Once again, something I had wanted to do, but never tried.

And since God seems to be granting me my heart’s desire I began to wonder had my heart truly been set on being a sculpture or doing mosaics?  So I was searching my heart when God said I had.  Why had I never pursued it?  It was then that I remembered I had desired it, but, at the time, hadn’t  a clue on what I might sculpt. When I tried to picture it: nothing.  I was completely uninspired.  And lacking that inspiration when I tried to look down the road and see if it was a good fit for my life I couldn’t see it.  The same could be said after watching a documentary on the artists who formed the mosaics for the Vatican.  What would I make a mosaic of?  A big black blank.  No inspiration and, therefore, no vision. 

God made me realize that much of my life had been this way: I’ve always lacked vision.  I’m not sure if this is good or bad.  After reading an article by Michael Novak on the narrowness of the modern woman’s vision for herself I realized that the world ended up supplying that vision.  And seeing the muck it’s made of things I can definitely say that’s bad.  But as I didn’t become Christian until I was in my 40’s, from whence should it have come?  My worldly parents?

Perhaps.  In his autobiography Benjamin Franklin relates when he was old enough–which would have been fairly young as apprentices started at an early age, so they could reach journeyman status the same time they attained adulthood–his father took him around to all the different trade shops in town.  His father did this so Benjamin could gain an understanding of what each trade involved.   After each visit His father would ask him if this was something which might interest him.  What his father was doing was trying to find a good fit for his child.  What he wasn’t doing was forcing his child into something that wasn’t right for him.  Nor did his father have him seek after riches and fame, or a flurry of activities.  Instead, he showed Benjamin good honest work.  Work which Benjamin would, hopefully, love.  This might be a good middle ground for non-Christians or even a starting place for Christians.  Even though much of the world’s vision for my life made me unhappy I was able to zone in on a couple of areas that suited me to a tee.  Those made me quite happy.

 After getting glimmers of what God envisions for my life I think there is a better way for Christians.  God, as only God can, is taking all these various pieces of me and forming them into a cohesive life. And thanks be to God for it because if left up to me it would be like dross compared to what God seems to have in store for me.  There’s no doubt in my mind that God wants to do this for all His people.  After listening to the March 6th Johnette Benkovich Women of Grace podcast, where I discovered that the world sells their vision through magazines, I thought that another reason why God chose a magazine may be to provide the world with His vision: what He always meant for them be.

Posted in Notes from the Field

Coming This Week: March 20 – 26

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Hello and welcome to this week on the blog,

It’s going to start in the same place it began last week: envisioning our lives.  What I’ve discovered with everything God is showing me is I’ve Always Lacked Vision.  Where I had none, the world supplied one.  Like it has others, this led to being what the world wanted me to be and neither what God nor myself wanted. He has a different vision for our lives.  Problem was I didn’t become a Christian until my 40’s.  What then?  I reflect on a possible solution to that problem, plus God’s vision as the way on Tuesday.

Attaining that vision is a different problem.  Having taken the first steps in faith away from Egypt and into the desert I’m trying play offense by reflecting on what’s needed for a successful journey.  Even there, my mind seems to be leaping forward to where I think God wants to lead us: the Promised Land.  Although my current understanding is limited I can’t help but marvel at it. Is this What the Promised Land Looks Like?  Look for that on Wednesday.

Thursday’s post is about forms.  Answers to prayers do not always come in the form we expect.  It can be so different from our expectations that we may not recognize our prayers are even being answered.  Once we do recognize that fact when a new facet of it is expressed you find yourself going back and asking did I pray for that.  This is what I see happening to the Blessed Virgin Mary and leads me to ask What was in the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Heart of Hearts? which led to her prayers being answered with the Christ child.

That’s pretty much it for the Ministry journal entry posts.  However, God has let me know that part one of  What Christ Won for Himself at Golgotha while very illuminating in one respect, wasn’t very enlightening in what it all means.  I’ve been  reflecting on it and I’ll put those thoughts in Friday’s post given the very original title of Reflections on What Christ Won for Himself at Golgotha.

I pray everyone has a blessed week.  Remember, if you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to ask/post them.  If you don’t want them to show up in the comments section, then send me an email via the contact page.

God bless!

Rebecca, Editor-in-training

Posted in Notes from the Field

What has God Gotten me Into?

 

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March 1, 2017

I always learn a lot when I’m writing; perhaps, too much sometimes.  I was writing the Who’s Offense and Who’s Defense . . . post and I had just finished the paragraph on how much Lord Jesus had suffered during His passion.  I had included every aspect of it I could, so people who don’t normally reflect on it could truly see how much He endured and see the weakened state He would have been in.  My intention for the next paragraph was to talk about how the devil attacks when we’re weak and remark the passion was the only time Lord Jesus was weak, when it dawned on me that wasn’t true.

He was a weak little baby when Herod tried to kill Him.  He was weak from hunger in the wilderness when the devil tempted Him.  His will was weak at the beginning of His passion when St. Peter tempted Him and He was weakened from all of the abuse heaped on Him during His passion.

What I noticed in all of this He was weakest at the beginning of each new phase of His life.  And the time spent in the wilderness was the beginning of His ministry.  Now, remember, I had just written a entire paragraph about all the suffering He had undergone.  Pair that with my observation about the timing of the devil’s attacks and I get the following thoughts: “I’m starting a ministry.”  “It feels like I’m in a wilderness.”  “What has God gotten me into?” 

Now, I know why at the beginning of this God wanted me to fix this magazine ministry firmly in my head as  a reality.  It looks like there may be some bumpy roads up ahead.  I don’t know what’s coming or if anything’s coming, but the Bible is full of wisdom.  So I’m sure it’s no coincidence that Lord Jesus was at His weakest at the beginning of each new phase of His life.  Nor that at the beginning of my new phase God teaches me this now.  I guess now I know I’m headed towards a weakened state and a prime target for the devil.

I’ve always thought that people do better when they know what to expect, so I’m thankful God is giving me a heads up.  Here are some things I already know to expect: this is going to be hard, you always feel the stupidest when you’re learning something in which you have no previous experience, and you’re going to make mistakes when you try new things.  I’ll need to take a closer look at the temptations of Christ and the Hebrews in the desert to see if I can’t get a better idea of what might else be coming.

I’m thankful I decided to journal the experience and that God inspired me to share it with others.  I’ll try to keep an eye out and remark on anything I feel is significant in this area.  If others can learn, then that is to the good.  Sometimes you just have to take one for the team.  Hopefully, it won’t be too bad.

The significance of this just hit me: today is the first day of Lent!

The funny thing about this is, while I feel like I’m in a wilderness I also feel as if God is raining down blessings on me at every turn.  So from my perspective it looks like God is getting me into something very good!

God bless!

Posted in Notes from the Field

Reconciling the Godly and the Practical

February 28, 2017

As this journal was originally intended to help others deal with starting a ministry it’s time to get down to practicalities.  And I’ve long had a problem with reconciling the practical and the godly.  Take marriage for example, two people ordained by God to be joined together as one.  Something incredibly beautiful and much of it comes down to whats for dinner?  There seems to be this huge discrepancy between the two.  And it is this discrepancy of moving from the godly to the practical which has always made me uncomfortable.  It seems so cold somehow.  Until this morning when I come across this passage:

In the midst whereof above shall be a hole for the head, and a border round about it woven, as is wont to be made in the outmost parts of garments, that it may not easily be broken. Exodus 28:32

The entire passage is dealing with the details of putting together the priestly vestments, but the last part about reinforcing the neck, so it wouldn’t rip popped out at me.  It seemed so very practical. I wonder if this is part of what Paul means when he says in Phillipians 2:12 to “work out your salvation”?  We do need to work out how we are going to live God’s truths.Might as well start in and get my hands dirty by putting some aspects of a magazine into practice here on the blog.  I’m changing the category name “Journaling my magazine experience” to “Journaling the Inspired LIfe” because it really is more than just about a magazine. 

[That was the shortest-lived title ever.  The Inspired Life is already being used.  Oh well, I like God-breathed better and it probably has more masculine appeal, then the Inspired Life.  That’s taken, also.  Infused?  This is not bad because it gives the sense of infusing everything we do and there is a sense of fusing of God and man, but the Infused Life doesn’t really do it for me. The Fused Life?  I’m going to have to do another sit-down.]

[Regardless, of that title] I’m not going to change the name of the blog because living an inspired life and starting a magazine just adds more layers to the title I already have. I do need to update the About page.  It should reflect the added layers.

I also need to change the graphic for the journal posts to reflect it. Right now, I’m using a very feminine image for the background which probably wouldn’t attract very many men.  Since, I believe that an inspired life would be applicable to both men and women I need to change that graphic out.  I’ll have to research what appeals to both.  I think it’s something like strong patterns with muted colors. And it needs to reflect inspiration, while still keeping the journal aspect of it.  A piece of religious art or a window with the sun shining through it in the background, perhaps?

I’ve decided on a window in the background with an overlay of a woman writing.  Journaling is like a window into the soul, so it’s applicable.  They have strong lines, which should suit men and most images of them have flowers in them, so it has a touch of femininity, also.  Plus, windows are very intriguing  [went with just the window for now].

I also need to vary up the background image for the journaling posts.  I was over at Social Media Examiner and for the different types of posts they had an icon representing what type of post it was; much like I’m doing here.  When you had a list of the same type of posts in front of you the icons were the same.  Seeing that over and over again got old really quick.  If someone decides to pull up all the journal entries the same thing is going to happen to them because those post images all use the same background.  Probably, should have about 7 different ones: one for each day of the week.  Similar enough, so it is recognizable as a journal entry post, but different enough so there is variety.

On discovering why God chose a magazine, figured out a couple of things about my blog posts.  The This Week posts are similar to a magazine cover in that it tells about what’s inside.  The only difference is that the material is not all in one spot.  Instead it’s being released over a week.  In addition, I don’t know that people realize what the This Week post is for.  I’m going to change out the photo for that post to look more like a magazine cover.  I’ll include the titles of the posts and, instead of page numbers, I’ll have the dates those posts are coming out.  Also, like a magazine my posts for a certain week seem to be themed.   Since the letters from the editor in a magazine explain what the theme is for that issue I’ll include that also.  Up until recently I’ve just been listing the names of the posts without really tying them together.

I might want to find someone to do a cover mock up for me.  I’m going to need experience in articulating my wants to artists and writers someday.  Might as well get some practice in now.

Since these articles are related and need to stand on their own do I need to somehow reference the previous and/or upcoming articles in the one they are reading?  I read somewhere that in the Harry Potter series J.K. Rowling did an excellent job of working the backstory into the current story.  Look for an article that explains how she did this and see if it will work for what I’m doing here.

I wonder if I should include the weekly roundup in the weekly theme: choose stories that contribute to the overall theme for the week?  That would be similar to a magazine having different writers contributing the different aspects of the theme or topic without me having to write them.  Every since this started I’ve been writing like crazy.  Another prayer answered!

That means that I’ll need to start planning out weeks farther ahead, much like a magazine does, to make sure that the posts are ready to go, themed, and on time.  That last one is going to be hard for me.  I may have to plan ahead five years.

My task list is getting longer and longer.  I feel like an editor-in-training!!!!!

Posted in Notes from the Field

Inspiring versus Aspiring

February 27, 2017

I’ve been reflecting on how different an inspired life is from a worldly life.  When we are of the world we aspire to things, but we are not inspired by things.  I would know having spent approx. 40 years being of the world.  I was always unhappiest when I was aspiring to be what the world thought I should be.  It really wasn’t until after I had been Catholic for a year of so that Lord Jesus was finally able to convince me that it was okay to be me. 

This isn’t to say that I wasn’t ever happy, but I was happiest when I was being true to me.  I loved my job, but that was because before I went to college I did a sit-down and I looked at what I liked to do, then I looked at the type of jobs that would allow me to do that.  But, even then, there was always this sense of trying to satisfy the flesh though the world’s approval.  I was being true to myself in one sense, but I was doing it in a way that the world thought it should be done.

[This paragraph added March 10th] And guess what?  The world, being not of God, will lie to you to get you to do what it wants.  I was just listening to the March 6th Johnette Benkovich Women of Grace podcast featuring Sue Ellen Browder author of Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement.  Browder relates how when she wrote for Cosmopolitan she had to make up the stories of what wonderful sexual experiences women were having because no one was actually living that life.  And they made up these stories to sell their magazine and their vision of what a woman should be.  Compare this to God who gave us Christ: the way, the truth, and the life.  God doesn’t lie to us to get us to do what He wants.  If you want the Christ child, then you’re going to have to change some diapers.  If you want to follow Christ, then pick up your cross and follow Him.  And what God wants is only for our good–not to sell magazines–but to live the life He always envisioned for us: one where will be happy in truth and one that encompasses the whole person.

To achieve their vision the world needs you to leave certain parts of yourself out.  Leave the mother and Christian at home. To accomplish this you must compartmentalize these different pieces of yourself.   Doing this sets them at odds against one another.  You can’t be a career person and a mother.  You have to choose one or the other.  

. . . many young women have developed an intensely narrow vision of their own identity . . The sudden intrusion of motherhood afflicts them as a complete loss of control. . . “their perception of their choice is ‘my life is over’  or ‘the life of this new child is over.'” -Michael Novak, Why They Hate Pro-Lifers So

Yet, parenting is not something you do it’s who you are.  If you’ve chosen wisely, a job is not what you do, but who you are.  And when that merges with our Christian selves Motherhood and a career become infused.  Are you an ex-con?  Don’t bring that to work.  In the infused life God wants the whole person [more of this coming up later].  God wants the ex-con because that’s a part of who he is.  God inspires him to use that to help others. 

In trying to live the worldly vision these different parts of us pull us every which way.  No wonder we feel frazzled and conflicted.  There’s no cohesion.  Even as Christians, going to Church is sometimes something we do, but not part of our lives.  I don’t know how many times I’ve done some type of Christian thing where it seemed I was taking a break from my real life.  This seems so wrong, because I am a Christian and that should infuse everything I do.  In some ways it does as far as not lying or stealing, trying to be patient and kind, etc.  But in other ways it seems I leave the Christian behind.  It’s as if I’m living two lives instead of one. 

Yet, there’s one small part of me that says not everyone can live an inspired cohesive life.  Not everyone can keep God as their focus and let the Christian permeate the entire person.  I don’t think that part is right.  I think the world is screwed up enough that there is plenty of work out there for us.  Plus, there are other services, like the magazine, that we can provide to each other.  Not only that, whose to say that the doctor and the garbage man can’t be infused?

Posted in Notes from the Field

Should we be Living Inspired and Infused Lives?

February 27, 2017

I don’t have the words for what Saturday was. 

Right before waking up Saturday morning  I had a dream that there was this monster kinda hovering out there on the periphery.  Shook that off. Coffee made. Sat down to read the newest blog posts from those I follow.  I was reading Melissa Pressers most recent post at God is in Your Typewriter and she’s talking about spiritual monsters.  Kinda freaky coincidental, but kept reading.  Her monster was that she was afraid, stemming from her abusive childhood, she had nothing to offer God.  And I got a flash of the Blessed Virgin Mary giving the baby Lord Jesus a bath, feeding Him, going about her daily duties which were so centered around Christ.  To put it another way her whole person revolved around Christ even when that meant she was simply cooking dinner.  This is the first glimpse I received of what it truly meant to live as a Christian.

Then it came to me that as a lawyer and a Christian Melissa was entirely suited to tackle some of those religious persecution cases that are being, and I’m sure will be, fought out in the courts.  Melissa could be God’s defender.  Even though I’ve never seen the woman I got a flash of a woman standing in court.  The flash was of her whole person.  Lawyering is what she does for a living, but it is very much a part of who she is, and when she takes who she is and merges that with her Christian self does that make for an inspired life? 

Later after I had my sit-down with God and I was laying out in my journal what type of magazine I would truly love to put together I got another flash.  This time it was me in an office overseeing a layout of this God-centered magazine.  An inspired life?

What got me thinking about all of this is another conversation Melissa and I had about feeling benched by God.  On top of that I’ve been feeling pretty uninspired for the last year or so.  Every since the above happened the thought kept popping in my head, “I wonder if she’s still feeling uninspired.” I no longer do, but I don’t know if I feel inspired yet, either.  This is all coming so fast I’m still processing it all.  What I do have is a glimmer of what God has planned for us.

Is it supposed to feel like a dream when you start living your dream?

I can’t stop thinking about God breathing life into Adam and Lord Jesus breathing into St. Peter.  Inspiration is to breathe in.  Is that one of the reasons God became man?  To show us what an infused life looks like.  That merging of God’s breath with our person? our humanness?  The two somehow becoming one? The incarnation of the Word?In one of the YouTube interviews I watched a man said that everyone should start a magazine because it’s a once in a lifetime experience.  He wasn’t just whistling Dixie.  So far it’s been an amazing experience.  

Posted in Notes from the Field

Jumping in With Both Feet

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February 25, 2017

I got myself into a little trouble.  I’ve been trying to learn more about the magazine business and to that end I’ve watched videos, started reading books, and looking at magazines.  Then I decided to jump in with both feet, so last night, I decided to look for trade associations.  I located a couple of websites and went poking around.    They had articles on every facet of the industry.  Things I had never heard of or even considered.  It was overwhelming and I panicked.  [Reminded me of St. Peter trying to walk on water.  Just like him I took a couple of steps, then down I went.] And just as I discovered when writing part two on doubt, my doubts about my abilities instilled doubts about God: whether this was something that was really from God.  I sat down, prayed, and waited.  Nothing . . . then nothing . . . still more of nothing . . . total and absolute confidence in myself.  I’ve got this!  [Just like St. Peter, God pulled me out.] Thanks be to God!

However, that led me to wonder if I’m approaching this the right way. When I was reading The Layers of Magazine Editing by Michael Robert Evans he said there were two ways of starting a magazine: one is to find a niche and nail down the audience, so the style and content of the magazine would always be directed towards them; the other was someone who was basically putting out a type of magazine they wanted and felt was needed.  As I was reading how to approach the first method I started to kick into analytic mode and God kept interrupting.  It was as if He was trying to tell me not that way, go the other way: the inspirational path. 

That makes a lot more sense.  I’ve known what I want the magazine to be about.  It’s going to be about God.  I even have a working title: Godfest.  What I don’t have is the guts of the magazine.  Perhaps, that’s where my focus should be with the technical aspects being secondary.  I have really got to learn to follow God’s lead.

. . .

I did a sit-down to solely think about the insides of the magazine.  That didn’t work, so I ended up asking God for help and He did help.  He said, “Becky.”  [Becky is my childhood nickname.  Rebecca is my birth name and the one I use officially.]  I knew what He was talking about.  He was talking about me making a magazine for other people like me.   What does Becky want to read about?  She wants to read about

  •  The trick way, (some would call it elegant), God has of taking all of these disparate threads and neatly tying them up, so there’s this beautifully packaged airtight solution which all converge on one point.  This is usually Christ. [So much so, that I once thought I could walk into any college anywhere and pass any theological test (without reading a thing) just by writing Christ for every answer, even the spot where you write your name!]
  • How God accomplished His mighty works.  I remember my first few years of being a Christian when I was like a little child constantly badgering God with how’s and why’s.  I was just so fascinated by it all and partly because that’s how my mind works, or more probably because that’s how my mind works.  And many times He told me. 
    • Once, I was reading the passage in Genesis that describes how God separated the waters from the waters and dry land appeared and I asked Him how He did it.  He answered by showing me a mini-vision of it.  It was pretty much how the verse described it.  What it was not was water receding and exposing land that was lying beneath the water.  Instead there was water and, on the right and left of the middle, the waters started pulling back and where there was once water there was now land.  There was this little churning of water at the edge of the water that seemed like the water was undergoing some kind of transformation.  It reminded my of dehydration.  Now, I’m no scientist, but I know there’s more in water besides liquid, says anyone whose ever left a glass of water sitting out long enough for it to dehydrate, and what you’re left with is dirt and it’s rock-hard to boot.  And He must have done a fine job of it, too, because I imagine it would be incredibly hard, if not impossible (except for God) to re-hydrate a rock.
      • I don’t know my magazine lingo yet, but this could be the central feature of the magazine.  That big story they always put in the middle.  I can get artists/illustrators to create stunning visual renderings along with explanations of the science involved to help the reader truly understand the scope of what God has actually accomplished. 
      • The Holy Ghost once showed me that He was both very, very small and incredibly large.  He was so small that He was present even in the tiniest of things, like the electron of an atom and because the physical universes are so vast; the Holy Ghost being present in every single element of that would make Him incredibly huge.  I could use those two views in the article.  First by looking at the single process, then expanding it out to see that process taking place a zillion times over.  Getting back to the separation of the waters, the earth is really large and there is a lot of dirt.  It’s mind-boggling to try to consider how much water went into that work.
  • Conversion stories.  I love reading about conversion stories.  God can take the most hardened, callous person and transform them into a new person.  It’s such an amazing thing to see AND reinforces my point that God can re-hydrate stones.  That is, if they get baptized.
  • Stories of healing or restoration of wounded souls.  I like listening to Joyce Meyers.  Mainly because it always  reminds me of the constant and tender care such a great personage as God gives to us.   Here you have this poor brutalized young woman who was probably scared, mistrustful, and defensive, to name a few, and God gently and patiently coaxes her back to life.  Not back to her old life, but to a new and abundant life. 
    • I imagine it must be on the lines of a doctor and patient.  The doctor proposes/gives a treatment, then waits for the patient to respond.  The patient either responds well or doesn’t.  The doctor gives another treatment and once again waits on the patient for a response.  This is repeated 100, 1,000, or 10,000 times over in a person’s lifetime.  Through all of this a wonderful caring relationship develops.  Not only between the patient and the doctor, but between the patient and those around her.  It’s like bonds that were severed start reaching out to each other and reforming.  It’s a beautiful thing to behold.
  • The ends of arguments.  I remember not along after I became a Christian. I got angry because our wonderful God was being so badly maligned.  I was determined to defend Him and God had my back.  Because of that I was very successful at it. I would like to do that again, but in a bigger way, not apologetic articles on how to argue something.  I’m talking about the Aquinas type of end of arguments.  The type where the fist slams onto the table and he says, “That’s does it for the Manicheans.”  And everyone reading the magazine, understanding the import, jumps off the couch and cheers for God because He just won a great victory for the Church.  The type of argument that shuts people up.

That is the magazine Becky would love to read.  If that is the magazine that Rebecca gets to put together, then that means God will be contributing to it a lot because I cannot do this without Him.  More importantly, that means God will be restoring our relationship to that of our former days when . . . I’m sorry I can’t these last lines out without breaking down in tears.

Posted in Notes from the Field

Why a Magazine?

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February 24, 2017

Decided to YouTube how to start a magazine.  I found some interesting interviews along with a new podcast: Foundr.  As I was listening to Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, in the podcast explain how his company spent approx. $1,000 per article for his website (no print media that I’m aware) I began to wonder why a magazine?  I already have a blog.  Why wouldn’t God just tell me to revamp it?  Or even start another one?  What’s so special about a magazine?  With the scant knowledge I have of magazines at this point the only thing I can come up with right now is the reading experience.  Sitting down with a magazine is, as one of the people in a video remarked, an experience.  I have to agree with the speaker.  There is something very pleasant about sitting down with a magazine.

That brings its own problems.  With my lack of funding I planned to go digital only.  After taking a look at magazines via the Texture app I have to say the two experiences are not the same at all.  Sitting down with a print version is 100 times better than sitting down with my laptop.  Of course, it didn’t help that I was looking at in Windows 8, whose apps have almost no menus.  I could only zoom in once, so anything in small print was completely lost.  There was one magazine whose font was so thin I couldn’t even read it after zooming in.  It was a good experience in learning what doesn’t work digitally, but horrible as a reading experience.  But, I’ll leave worries about digital formatting for another day.  Right now, I need to figure out why a magazine?""[I’ve made some discoveries since I first journaled about the question of why a magazine.  Instead of leaving the question open until it was time to post this journal entry.  I’ve decided it would be better to put it here.]

February 27, 2017

I discovered two possible reasons, in the last couple of days, on why God may have chosen a magazine.  One is my writing style.  I noticed when I write blog posts I’m entirely focused on getting one or two points out, so I try not get to give long explanations about other aspects of the subject because I think it will detract from the main points of the current post.  What I do instead is write another post explaining that issue.  They both tie in together, but they are not always read together because the blog is so linear, as far as time release goes.  So a person could read the one without being aware of the other.  Kinda like jumping into the middle of a conversation.  Where in a magazine all aspects will be set down in one space.  Although, not everyone reads every article in a magazine, at least they would know that they belong together.  Less worry about reading out of context or confusion as to what comes before.

I do tend to lay out what’s coming and how it all ties together in the This Week post each Sunday, but not very many people read that.  Kinda proves my point.

I think the other reason is the two-page layout.  In a magazine there is nice large spread where you can introduce images, info graphics, call-outs, etc.  All of which lend toward a better understanding of the article and provides a better reader experience.  It seems to be more immersive.  At this point, I can’t think of a way readers would be able to get that same experience on their mobile phones.""March 11, 2017

In the March 6th Johnette Benkovich Women of Grace podcast featuring Sue Ellen Browder author of Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement Browder says a very interesting thing regarding magazines: it’s how the world sells their vision to the public.  When I heard that it occurred to me that God might want this magazine to offer a greater vision of the world.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

 

Posted in Notes from the Field

Is God Answering my Prayers?

February 23, 2017

I think God might be answering my prayers and I didn’t even notice it until I started writing about doubt and journaling about the magazine.  I’ve long wanted to be in a position to sit and write about God all day.  In my dreams of dreams I would be God’s scribe.  He would do all the dictating and I would write it all down and distribute it.  (Hmmm . . . that kinda sounds like something a magazine would be good for.)  Even if that didn’t happen writing about God all day would be the next best thing.  Then God suggested/told me to start a magazine.  That sounds like an answer to a prayer.  Poor God.  He’s trying to answer my prayer and I don’t even notice it.

Another thing I wanted to do was help people start ministries.  Not big major ministries, but for regular people like me who would like to, but don’t quite know how to get one started.  The problem was I had never started a ministry, so even though it was something I wanted or, perhaps, felt was needed; I  didn’t proceed.  Now, I’m journaling about my own ministry in hopes that it will help others.  Another prayer answered.""It’s funny, I was listening to The Thomistic Institute podcast on Mental Prayer by Father White, OP today and someone asked a question about obscurity in prayer.  Fr. White said something along the lines when you feel like you are failing in prayer that is when God is doing the most work.  That seems to be the case here.  In prayer I feel that God is ever so far away and yet my cup runneth over.  I wonder if this is how Lord Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane?

 

 

 

 

Posted in Notes from the Field

Turns Out I’m Actually Suited for this Ministry

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February 22, 2017

Some good news.  I started reading about magazine publishing today and turns out I may be more suited to being an editor than I thought.  Go figure God actually knows what He’s doing.  According to Michael Evan in The Layers of Magazine Editing editors

  • love to read  – check
  • likes switching from one task to another – check
  • believe what they are doing is worthwhile – check
  •  keep others on track – check
  • like listening to people – check
  • detail-oriented –  check
  • grammar – meh

I suppose I can learn grammar or try to get my son to do that part.  He’s a grammar Nazi.

Another point in my favor is I majored in business in college, so I do have some business background.  On the downside that was long time ago and I haven’t used it all that much  Plus I dropped out.  Oh well, I’ll go with my strengths and let someone else cover my weaknesses.  At least I know what some of them are.  That’s always a help.""Also, a little disturbing news.  Michael Evan also had this to say: in the rankings of businesses that have the highest failure rate magazines are second only to restaurants.  That doesn’t sound good.  I wonder what the failure rate for magazines that have God backing them?  I bet that number’s pretty small.  Also, I’ll consider it a success, if I manage to get it off the ground and some issues out the door.

I do want to make enough money to cover the costs, which includes me making it my full-time job, but profit is not the driving motive.  God is.  As a matter of fact, I’m struggling with the idea of charging for a magazine about God.  The struggle stopped when God pointed out that I could give it away.  I wonder what the failure rate for that type of magazine is?  Donations or grants for this route?

I also considered advertising, but I’m not so sure about that either.  I don’t know if I want an advertisement sitting next to an article about God. One possibility is to do something similar to the parish bulletins and have the advertisements at the back.  Sometimes people are in the mood to read and sometimes they are in the mood to shop, so having all the advertisements together in one place might not be a bad idea.  If the advertisements are all religious related it would be a good resource for readers.

But I don’t have to worry about money right now.  I need to focus on learning how to put a magazine together.  Onward.""

 

 

 

 

Posted in Notes from the Field

So I Guess I’m Starting a Magazine

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February 21, 2017

Strange thing happened recently.  I guess God wants me to start a magazine.  That’s weird because I don’t remember the context in which this occurred.  I can’t remember if I was thinking, “Man, I sure would like to start a business,” or something along those lines and God suggested a magazine or what.  It could be that the idea of me starting a magazine was so bizarre in my mind that it knocked out everything that came before it.  That happened to me once before when I was studying Thomas Aquinas.  I was listening to something and I was able to apply Aquinas to what I was listening to.  I was so shocked I actually forgot how I applied it and to what.

And I was shocked about God suggesting I start a magazine.  It’s nothing I ever considered and I know nothing about the industry. I can’t even get a blog post out each week. So I couldn’t imagine why God would choose this type of ministry for me.  Then God pointed out to me that I would love to sit around and write about God all day.  The choice made much more sense then.  So I guess I’m going to start a magazine.  I’m kinda looking forward to it.

“And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something— now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have.” 2 Cor 8:10-12

A quote from my reading for today.  That last line really got to me.  Don’t focus on what I can’t do, but what I can do.  Great advice and very timely.

Since this is a new experience for me I decided to journal it.  I also decided to post my journal entries online because I know that there are others besides myself who would like to start a ministry, but their doubts about their abilities hold them back or they don’t know where to start.  I think part of the problem is people that start businesses only show up on our radar once they’ve made it big.  Then all we see is this successful person.  What we don’t see is the hard work, the mistakes, and all they had to learn to get where they are.  Hopefully, by journaling my experiences others will see that you don’t have to be all that to start a ministry, especially if God is asking you to do it.  Besides, misery does love company (not that I think this will be a miserable experience) and sometimes it does good to know that there are others like you who are just fumbling along.

God bless!""