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Answers to Prayer

Pray much for others;
plead for God’s mercy upon them;
give thanks for all he is going to do for them.
1  Timothy 2:1 (TLB)

Thank You, Father, for everyone who has been praying for Paul and for how You are restoring his health. I am so, so grateful.

Yesterday, Paul saw Dr. Tony, the oncologist. When Paul was in the hospital the end of October Dr. Tony told us he thought the white spots would resolve along with the blood clots. An oncologist he works with and a lung doctor disagreed. Thank you so much for your prayers that helped me get through the last six weeks. I felt your prayers and so appreciated the encouragement I received through countless Facebook comments and more than 1,000 emails. And I am praising God that Dr. Tony was right. The blood clots and spots are gone. There is NO cancer!

Last night Paul saw the ortho doc who continues to be amazed with the progress Paul is making. Although it will take 4-6 months for complete recovery and another 2 months before Paul can drive, the doc said Paul no longer needs to see him.

Today Paul saw the GI doctor for his tummy problems and weight loss that has had me so concerned. I am confident that this doctor is going to find the needed answers. He has scheduled Paul for an endoscopy December 26. If the blood test Dr. Tony ordered shows Paul no longer needs to be on the blood thinner, the GI doctor will also stretch Paul’s Schatzki Ring that he thinks may be a big part of  the problems Paul is having. I don’t think there’s going to be a quick fix, but I am confident that Father is going to use this doctor. And again, I am praising God that the CT scan of Paul’s tummy and pelvis showed no evidence of cancer.

Father’s hand in all this is so evident. Monday evening I called the salon where I get my hair done. The stylist I had about two months ago (the new manager) is pretty much booked through the end of the year but was available Monday night. She’s a Christian and was very reassuring when I saw her the first time when Paul was in rehab. To my amazement, I learned as she colored my hair Monday night (no more grey – temporarily) that the GI doctor Paul saw today is her doctor. She’s been with him seven years and says he is the best. Her encouragement and hug Monday night helped me get through the last two days.

But still, the waiting has been so hard! I needed to re-read the article I wrote over 30 years ago that was originally published in Decision. Forgive me, Father, for not trusting You more as I waited. Thank You for Your patience, Your unfailing love, and the gift of friends.

How Much Longer Lord

 

 

Nativity 1

Lift Up Your Eyes and See

To the tune: O Little Town of Bethlehem

All those beneath life’s crushing load
Lift up your eyes and see
The Son of God has come to earth
His words will set you free
From doubt and fear and worry
Of what the future holds
Look up and put your trust in Him
His peace will fill your soul.

The baby born to Mary
The Word made flesh He came
That all who will believe in Him
Will never be the same
O’er evil He did triumph
When on the cross He hung
Our sin He took upon Himself
Salvation for us won.

So we can live in victory
And know His joy and peace
No matter what the headlines say
We only need to reach
To Him who holds the future
Our lives are in His hands
Rejoice, give thanks and praise His name
In near and distant lands.

Marlene Bagnull

Father, thank You for reminding me of these words I wrote eight years ago. Thank You that they are as true today as they were then.

Please help me give you my fears and worries as I wait for the results of the CT scan and Echo Paul will have tomorrow. I’ve been trying so hard to trust You these past nine weeks since Paul fell. And You have been healing his broken knee and elbow, but it’s those blood clots in his lungs and spots throughout his chest that have me feeling so anxious.

Dr. Tony, the oncologist who spent about half an hour with us when Paul was in the hospital the end of October, told us he thinks the spots will resolve along with the blood clots. But the oncologist he works with (the most arrogant doctor I’ve ever met) told me he does not agree. The lung doctor says they are “very suspicious.”  He thinks Paul has cancer and, if he does, that it’s advanced. The internist says “stage 4.” (Paul does not know he may be facing cancer.)

We see the cardiologist this Wednesday and Dr. Tony September 11. Oh Father, I’m not ready to face what I may learn these next two weeks. I’m trying to trust You and to believe Dr. Tony. But maybe there is something seriously wrong somewhere else? Please, Father, please place Your healing hand on Paul.

Since the accident Paul has not been eating much. His tummy pain has been getting worse. I’m only getting about 400-500 calories a day in him – mostly protein powder mixed into strawberry and chocolate milk. He’s lost more than 30 pounds since August 27. Update: I reached a nurse at the GI doctor’s office today. She got approval for a CT scan of Paul’s lower abdomen and pelvis and an appointment with the doc for a week from this Wednesday. (There was a cancellation.) Father is at work! Turns out Paul could not have gotten a CT scan of his chest tomorrow because he doesn’t have recent enough blood work or the contrast prep he needs to drink before the test. All a surprise to me but not to the Lord. They were able to reschedule Paul for both CT scans this Saturday.

Meanwhile, I’ve been working on #MyFamilyToo!  It’s been good to remember God’s faithfulness and Paul’s support during the five years my half-sister lived with us. I really believe Father can use this book to encourage many and not just those who have been sexually abused and family/friends who try to help. It’s about so much more. It is our testimony of how God helped us to “Live His Answer” in the midst of other challenges that could have destroyed our faith.

One of the more than a dozen endorsements I’ve received reads:

“Marlene Bagnull has written a powerful, yet vulnerable, account of what it means to trust God in the darkest moments. MyFamilyToo! is the story of a caregiver who relied on God for the equipping she needed. It’s also the story of forgiveness and healing in the life of a young girl who experienced sexual abuse. Each chapter ends with prompts to help readers apply biblical truth to their own situation, whatever that situation is.

“As Marlene notes, ‘There is no quick and simple cure for…any of life’s problems.’ Whether you carry the wounds of betrayal or you are caring for one who does, you will be encouraged to look to the One who is able to strengthen you minute by minute and day by day.”   Ava Pennington ~ Bible teacher and author

I plan to upload the book to KDP by the end of the week and have it available before Christmas through my website or Amazon. It will sell for $11.95 plus shipping. As I said in my last blog, I’m happy to give a copy to anyone who feels led to help us with the financial needs we’re facing right now. You can mail a check to 951 Anders Road, Lansdale, PA 19446 or use this link (https://paypal.me/MarlenePaulgift).

Please know we deeply appreciate your gifts and especially your prayers. And please pray for the May 15-18 Colorado and August 8-10 Philly conference. PTL I finally have a date for Philly. I must begin planning.

Cover My Family with logo Dec 3

 

Give thanksIt’s now been seven weeks and three days since our lives dramatically changed when my husband fell going into church September 30.  I’m thankful for the Lord’s healing power. The orthopedic doctor was surprised at the progress Paul has made when he saw him at his six-week check-up. He no longer needs the immobilizers for his broken knee cap and elbow, and he is able to walk with the walker.

Paul Oct 2018.jpegBecause of the risk of falling while he’s on a blood thinner, I keep reminding him that I need to be beside him when he goes anywhere. But sometimes he forgets or stubbornly decides he doesn’t need my help. That’s scary!

I’m concerned that Paul still is hardly eating anything. He has no appetite and every day has nausea and tummy pain. Until he’s off the blood thinner for the blood clots in his lungs there are no tests that can be done to find the answer.  He has now lost over 30 pounds since August 27.

The threat of a stoke because of the Afibs he had in the hospital continues to concern me. He is wearing a heart monitor for 21 days. An Echo and CT scan are scheduled for December 4. He will see the cardiologist Dec 5 and the oncologist Dec 11. I’m trying to trust the Lord and not worry. Please keep praying. Our 55th anniversary was ten days ago.

The medical bills are mounting up into the thousands plus the $2,000 I’ve already spent on durable medical equipment our insurance didn’t cover (I’m appealing), pull-ups, waterproof pads, bathroom grab bars, meds, and so much more. We’ve also had the added expense of needing to replace our washer and dryer plus unexpected (aren’t they always?) car repairs. We even had to replace a toilet that cracked and threatened to cause a flood until I finally figured out how to turn off the water to the house!

Financially things were already tight because I was only able to pay myself half of what I had hoped for directing this year’s conferences. I’d hate to calculate how much I earn an hour! The conferences are my ministry, but I do need income from them – now more than ever – to supplement our Social Security checks. The evil one is ridiculing me for “foolishly” giving in scholarships an amount almost equal to what I earned, but I promised the Lord 35 years ago that I would not turn people away because they can’t afford to come.

Father keeps nudging me to make our needs known. That’s hard for me. I’m far more comfortable being on the giving side. Friends have suggested a Go Fund page. Instead, if Father leads you to help us financially, I’d like to give you a copy of  #My Family Too. It will be available by mid-December. It’s an updated edition of the first book I wrote that was rejected 42 times over a five-year period before it was finally published in 1989. (See my February 13, 2015, post “Tempted to Give Up?”)

Cover My Family Too Nov 21

Back in the 1980s editors I met at conferences affirmed it was well written, but they admitted they did not want to touch the topic of incest or publish personal experience stories. (It was long before memoirs became popular.) My sister, mother, and stepfather are now home with the Lord, so there is no longer a need to use a pen name. I am trusting now is the time for Father to use #My Family Too! in Ephesians 3:20 ways.

Whether or not you feel led to send a gift to help us financially (I will, of course, report as income the $15 cost, including shipping, of each book), please know that I appreciate your prayers, emails, and Facebook posts so much. Forgive me for not responding. It’s been impossible to keep up with being a full-time caregiver, and now I need to start planning next year’s conferences. Prayer is needed for the conferences, too. When Outlook crashed a week before I left for the Colorado conference in May, the emails “safely” stored in folders for 2019 prospective faculty and invites/acceptances were all deleted. Father, please help me connect with the people You are calling to serve on faculty next year.

P.S. * You can use this link to send a gift https://paypal.me/MarlenePaulgift or you can mail a check to 951 Anders Road, Lansdale, PA 19446.

My hubby is home!

Oh, how grateful and thankful I am
to the Lord because he is so good.
I will sing praise to the name of the Lord
who is above all lords.
Psalm 7:17 TLB

Paul in chair
Yes, I know his hand should not be down, but I didn’t want to wake him. There is so much to think about and do!

Thank You, Father, that Paul is home! And thank You for family that helped get him in the van and then the house. And for Laura who spent the night and helped me get him in bed.
 
She’s only 14, but I asked her last night “When did you grow up?” Much as I hate that Paul is going through all this, I think this will be an incredible learning experience for her since she is interested in a PT, OT, or PA career.
 
I confess to feeling really overwhelmed when Laura had to leave today for a party. For the first time I transferred Paul from the lift chair to the commode without someone for backup. And then I got him up again from his chair so I could put a gel pad that had just been delivered on his chair. (His bottom gets so sore from sitting.)
 
The home care nurse was here for an hour this morning. I’m very impressed with her. She’s knowledgable, thorough, and good at explaining medical terminology. And the PT who came several hours later is great. Both will continue to be the people who will work with us I trust for as long as needed. Father, please give us favor with the insurance.
 
For the first time I got someone from our insurance who was really helpful, supportive, and encouraging. She gave me needed info on his blood thinner that was a huge relief. Good RX priced a one month supply at over $400, but after today’s purchase (for one week) of $195, he will be only $5 away from meeting his $200 deductible. Then one month via mail order will be $47 or $98 for three months. She checked about reimbursement for the wheelchair since their suppliers didn’t have what we need, but sadly they will not reimburse anything not purchased in network. She agreed with me that “it’s not fair.” The same as the PA at the hospital and the cardiologist, she said “You’re doing a good job!”
 
I’ve created a spreadsheet for all the stuff I’ve got to be certain we do each day. Hopefully it won’t seem so overwhelming once we get into a routine.
 
Father, You are good. While you have not promised to save us from life’s challenges, You have promised to be with us in them. Thank You for Your faithfulness.
Yes, I know his hand should not be down, but I didn’t want to wake him. There is so much to think about and do!
 

Prayer Needed

I really intended to regularly blog after the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference the end of July but first it was the needed conference mop-up and then the four books I edited including Michael Gantt’s Cry Mercy based on his keynote in Philly. (Yikes, that was a long sentence and I still want to tell you about Michael’s book, but I’ll save that for another post.)

Paul & MarleneI’m blogging today to ask for prayer for my husband, Paul. He tripped over the curb going into church September 30 and fell – hard. He broke his knee cap and tibia and severely sprained his wrist. After two days in the hospital, he went to a rehab and now, since this Monday, he has been back in the hospital and we discovered he also broke his elbow. Paul wasn’t eating or drinking in rehab and was getting weaker to the point where we could barely get him to stand with the walker for more than 15-20 seconds Monday morning. And I was supposed to take him home on Tuesday.

I’m so grateful I made the decision to send him back to the hospital. Turns out he has blood clots in both lungs and has been going in and out of afib. And there are some other possible complications. I’ve been on a roller coaster all week dealing with six different doctors.

We hope Paul will be released today with a heart monitor. His 76th birthday is October 28 and our 55th anniversary is November 9.

Your prayers will be deeply appreciated as he recovers and I take care of him. I definitely need to depend on the strength God promises for my weakness since nursing skills are way outside my comfort zone.

I’m putting planning for the May 15-18 Colorado and summer August 1-3 (tentative date)Cover Oct 26 new TOL Greater Philly conference  on hold until I finish typesetting and republishing the first book I wrote. It’s the one that took 5 years and 42 rejection slips until it was finally accepted.  It was not good timing back in 1983 when we didn’t want to address the issue of incest. We raised my half-sister for five years because her father, my step-father, sexually abused her. How Our Family Coped with Incest has a new title, #MeToo – Too! and a new cover. I hope to have it back in print in the next several weeks. It’s a good thing for me to work on right now because it’s a reminder of how God carried me and what He taught me during those difficult five years.

Thank You, Father, that I know You will carry Paul and I through this latest challenge. Thank You for Your promises.

But I have trusted in thy mercy;
my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
I will sing unto the LORD,
because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 13:5-6 KJV

 

I know what I’m doing.
I have it all planned out—
plans to take care of you, not abandon you,
plans to give you the future you hope for.
Jeremiah 29:11 MSG

A lot of planning and even more prayer goes into each year’s Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conferences. And I try, really try, to not mess up on important details – details that often overwhelm me and make me question whether I really can hold it together.

Well, truth is, I can’t. But He can and does!

At the conference the person I thought I had asked to house Edwina Perkins Saturday night told me she couldn’t. God stepped in and provided the perfect person who blessed Edwina immensely even as Edwina was able to bless her.

But that wasn’t my only goof. You can imagine my embarrassment and panic when at the faculty/staff dinner after the conference Sarah Bolme asked me where she was staying. I was certain I had her staying somewhere, but when I checked my lodging spreadsheet (that I hadn’t had time to update) Sarah didn’t have a host family. PTL my friend, Peggy, had not yet left.  So Sarah went home with Peggy. (Peggy and I, by the way, have been friends for almost 50 years and raised our children together. She is Aunt Peggy to my kids.)

But oops – again. When a couple from church came to pick up Craig von Buseck, I discovered that another couple from church were on their way to get Edwina. I had totally forgotten about them. I didn’t have their phone number, but the couple who had just arrived called the couple’s son and daughter-in-law who were on vacation to ask them to call their mom and tell her I didn’t need her after all. (Yes, this was getting complicated and, again, oh so embarrassing!)

But they had just pulled up to my house. “I’m not leaving until I’m certain we’re not needed,” Gladys said.

So she came in just when my good friends from Virginia, Tom and Sue Bailey, were on the phone trying to book a hotel. Instead, Gladys took them home with her and her husband and a “forever friendship” (their words) was formed.

The truth is God already has a plan when our plans fail. But often it’s only in retrospect that we see how God has been at work changing our plans into something far better.

About seven years ago the program I was using for the conference websites and my main website (I hope you’ve visited www.writehisanswer.com as well as the conference sites) was no longer supported. I moved the site to MS Expression and was beyond frustration trying to push through the learning curve. I even paid an “expert” who couldn’t find the answer to the problems I was having.

Celebration Web Design.jpgBut God . . .

I got a call from Bruce Shank’s wife. If I remember right, Bruce had come to the Philly conference a year or two before and set up a table for SKWD, his website design and hosting service. Her routine follow-up call was the answer to my desperate prayers.

Bruce and Jonathan Shank came alongside to set up not one, but all three of my websites. What a magnificent job they did not just designing the sites but helping me learn how to make changes, add pages, and so much more. (Their EZ-CMS, Easy Content Managing System, really is EZ because it’s so similar to MS Word.)

Always, when I’ve had a question or needed something done beyond my skills, I’ve been able to pick up the phone and get the help I need. (Their goal is “to take care of all the ‘tech stuff’ so you can focus on your writing.”) In the six or seven years (we lose track) that we’ve worked together, they’ve become treasured friends and prayer partners.

Now known as Celebration Web Design by SKWD (they moved to Celebration, Florida), I send my friends to them knowing that they will be blessed with the same great help I receive. Check out the great sites they designed for:

Barb Haley – www.barbarahaleybooks.com
Facing Facts in a World of Fiction

Pam Halter – www.pamhalter.com
Writing, Editing, Serving

Karen Whiting – www.karenwhiting.com
Speaker, Author – Family, Faith, and Food

Carolyn Ruch, Rise and Shine Movement – http://riseandshinemovement.org
To protect children from sexual abuse. Carolyn is in my critique group. Her children’s picture books, Ana’s Song: A Tool for the Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Bobby Gilliam, Brave and Strong: A Tool for the Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse are available online to read/watch/listen to.

Lori Hynson – www.lorihynson.com
The SuperGal Syndrome – Breaking the Chains of Control, Pride & Perfectionism

Margie Vawter – www.marjorievawter.com
Speaking, Editing, Writing – Discovering Foundations of Truth

Dee Lundgren – www.deelundgren.com
Coaching and Counseling – Help, Hope, Healing After Loss

Vicki Chandler – www.hearteyes.net
Educator and author burdened for children who are ignored or bullied

I’ve been on the phone with Bruce and Jonathan several times since the conference and am absolutely THRILLED that the MP3s of the Philly conference are already available online. (You’ll find the order form at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.) Talk about service that goes above and beyond . . .

I just talked to Bruce a few minutes ago to ask if the special price he offered the Philly conferees could be extended to everyone on my mailing list. He said yes! So if you do not have a website, or if you have a website that needs to be redesigned, I encourage you to view the special offer (good through August 17) that you’ll find on the home page of http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com. And visit the sites above and the review the specifics of how Celebration Web Design helps authors expand their ministry at http://www.celebrationwebdesign.com/author.

Meanwhile, for any plans that aren’t working out quite as you had hoped, know that Father loves you and has something even better planned.

P.S. I thought you’d like to see Celebration Web Design’s

Statement of Faith

There is One true God: the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. God is immutable, infinite, and incomprehensible. God in His very nature is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. God created and has dominion over the entire world causing it to work for His purpose. God is holy, glorious, good, kind, merciful, jealous, a righteous judge, truthful, faithful, loving, and long suffering. God is known in three persons who are the same in essence and glories, the Three Persons are The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.

Christ is the begotten son of God. Christ through His sacrifice became the mediator for all mankind. No man can come to God except by Christ. Christ is the agent of all creation, sustains creation and is eternal.

The Holy Spirit is a helper sent from God, enabled to testify of Christ and truth. Through the Holy Spirit mankind shares in Christ, His blessings and God’s love. The Holy Spirit resides within the believer and by Him the believer is regenerated and renewed.

The Scriptures are the Word of God, free from error in the originals and completely accurate in every way. The Old Testament and the New Testament have been inspired by the Holy Spirit and are the one and only standard of faith and practice. Creation has been given to man as general revelation of God, but the Word is God’s specific revelation.

Mankind was created in the image of God. Mankind was given the right to rule over creation. Mankind choose to rebel against God through the actions of Adam, through his headship all men have fallen. No man except Christ has lived without sin and the wage of sin is death. Man, in his nature, is a slave to sin. Each man, not only receives the penalty of death by way of Adam, but also his own sin. Man is born fallen.

The Redemption of man is the work of Christ. “For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” Christ’s sacrifice was once for all and covers all sin. (1 Cor. 15: 20-22). By faith in Christ alone, a man is granted the gift of eternal life based upon Christ sacrifice atonement on the cross. Christ literally died, was buried, arose bodily from the dead and ascended into heaven.

The Church is the body of true believers who have taken on the qualities of Christ. The church is being prepared, by the Holy Spirit, as the bride of Christ for His second coming. The church exists as a witness to the Gospel.

 

 

 

 

mtn climb 3 pexels-photo-681794

I mean writers’ conference or retreat or . . .

Unlike the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, there were no mountains at the Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. There certainly were scary mountains to climb for conferees who met for the first time with an agent or editor or received a critique of their work from a professional author.

And there were holy mountains to climb for many who I trust were aware of God’s presence and His call to “write His answer” more keenly than they had ever experienced. Indeed, as we worshiped and were stirred by powerful keynotes we were on the mountaintop. Commitments were made in the closing session that, if kept, God will use to change lives today and for eternity.

But oh how hard it is to come down from the mountain. The encouragement we received at the conference may be sorely lacking from our family and circle of friends. Meanwhile, the evil one is likely to already be working hard to convince us that we’re not good enough writers. We’re not smart enough. We’re too old or too young. We don’t have strong computer skills, and we definitely do not have the needed “platform.”

This morning as I was sharing with my friends from Colorado, Chris and Roy Richards and Eric Sprinkle, I was reminded of an experience I had that could have ended my writing and speaking before it even got started.

I’d felt a call to Christian ministry since I was a teenager. My parents scoffed when I talked about going to college. “What makes you think that you’re better than us – that you’re college material?” They were not willing to offer any financial support, but in faith I applied to my first choice school, Wheaton College. I was not accepted.

I tried applying a few other places and was finally accepted at a Bible college down south. I had met a sailor at the USO and had fallen in love with him. But then he broke up with me. Of course, I was devastated.

The time to leave for college fast approached, but my thoughts (and prayers) were more focused on Paul than on a getting a college degree.

“God,” I prayed, “please show me what You want me to do. I’m willing to go to college although I don’t know how I can pay for it. But if you bring Paul back into my life, I’ll know that it’s Your will that I marry him instead.”

November 9 Paul and I will celebrate 56 years of marriage. Except for when I said yes to the Lord, it’s the best decision I’ve ever made and one I’ve never regretted.

But oh how I struggled for years with feeling inadequate and even ashamed that I was only a high school graduate. The call to ministry was still there, but I believed the lie that my lack of education disqualified me from serving the Lord.

God knew and He didn’t let go of me. A couple from a church we had visited reached out to us – actually pursued us. We finally joined the church but stayed on the fringes until a new pastor and his wife drew me into leadership roles I was convinced I could not handle.

I became president of the Koinonia Sunday School class of highly educated men and women including two lawyers, two seminary professors, and a doctor. Talk about being over my head!

One of the events I planned was an evening where we made montages to help us share what we believed God was calling us to do.

I can still hear the deafening silence as I held up my montage and told them I believed God was calling me to a nationwide speaking ministry. No one said anything. Not one word of encouragement or affirmation. Yes, I was mortified. I wanted to escape into a dark, deep hole.

For the rest of the story, you’ll need to read my next blog.

For now I want to reassure those who feel like I once did and sometimes still do. Friends, it’s not our ability or the letters behind our name that qualify us to do the Lord’s work. In fact, the more inadequate we feel, the more we’ll need to depend on Him. And that’s a good thing.

He is so much bigger than all our self-doubts, all our fears, all our failures. The more you struggle with the “deadly Ds” of disappointments, doubts, discouragement, the more I believe they are evidence that you are a threat to the evil one. Yes, God could make it easy, but then our faith muscles would not become strong.

God said to Paul, and He says to you and to me:

I am with you; that is all you need.
My power shows up best in weak people.”
Now I am glad to boast about how weak I am;
I am glad to be a living demonstration
of Christ’s power,
instead of showing off my own power and abilities.

2 Corinthians 12:9 TLB

mtn climb 2pexels-photo-671907

MP3s and CDs from the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference available –

For the first time we’re excited to be able to offer the entire conference as downloadable MP3s. (The MP3 files are also available on a DVD.) The cost is only $57 ($67 on a DVD) for those who came to the conference or $77 ($87 on a DVD) for those who were not able to come. The almost 70 sessions can also be purchased individually as CDs. You’ll find the order form at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.

Write Right Now

Verna Bowman 3 from FB
Guest post
Verna Bowman

 

In the past few weeks I’ve spoken to a few writer-friends about the upcoming conference in our area. It wasn’t surprising to hear that some were feeling that they didn’t have anything valuable to offer and identified their work as just a keepsake for the family. I understand, I felt that way once.

Writing matters.

One sage-lady simply jots down life but has the unique charm of telling a story to take you along to live with her right on the pages. As I listened to a few others, I was inspired by a handwritten poem, moved by a passionate article concerning our critical times, encouraged by a woman’s heartwarming experience of finding her biological family, and motivated by a manuscript on ministry leadership.  All needed – all good.

They should attend the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference – every one of them. And maybe you should too! It’s not too late to register at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com.

A writers conference provides the tools to turn valuable writings we’ve been hoarding or unsure of to be used to bring hope to a needy world. I’ve regularly attended GPCWC for over three decades.  And yes, there have been times I’ve left dazed and confused, wondering if I fit – tempted to quit.  However, the dedicated lady who directs the conference, Marlene Bagnull, believed in the calling and mentored me along the journey.  Gratefully, through many connections, I’ve had the opportunity to share faith stories in several publications, one the feature cover story in Guideposts, have my books published and encourage women through a personal ministry blog.

What compelled me to wipe the dust off of decades of random scribblings stored in the abyss of a drawer were the jewels I’ve extracted through keynotes and workshops led by gifted presenters and professionals in the industry.  It has been a blessed benefit to polish my craft and grow spiritually through these events.

Whether you’re a new or seasoned writer or maybe stuck in the dry in-between – you’ll find rich resources at the conference to awaken your writer’s heart.

Please join us July 26-28th (one or all days) at Dock Academy in Lansdale and also come out for the evening keynotes, free of charge to the community:

  • Declaring God’s Truth in a Digital Age of Half Truths
  • The Freedoms of a Christian Writer
  • Be Still and Know
  • The Arm of Flesh Will Fail
  • Finish Strong
Be blessed,
Verna

crumbs_coverNote from Marlene:

I had the privilege and joy of publishing Verna’s first book.

Crumbs Along the Broken Path walks us through Verna’s rebellion, redemption, and restoration by following scattered crumbs on her path that led to a deep relationship with the Lord. Verna’s stories can bring each one of us to a deeper understanding of how God uses tragic circumstances in our lives.

This one woman’s story will help you discover a faith that cannot be shattered by brokenness and how you, too, can walk through and not around adversity.

Crumbs are symbolic of the things the Father uses in our life, the good and the not-so-good, to get our attention and keep us on track. While walking over broken pieces of life, I have found keepsakes leading to wholeness. I share my story so you can, also.

For more information and to read Verna’s blog go to https://vernabowman.com.

 

 

Barb Haley apr 2016 croppedA Message from Barb Haley

CCWC and GPCWC Registrar
and Appointments Coordinator

 

Have you ever felt like giving up on your writing ministry?

 

Perhaps that’s why haven’t yet registered for the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference or decided to go to any writers conference this year.

 

Or maybe you are SO majorly busy that you can’t imagine taking several days from your schedule for a conference – especially if you’ve attended one in the past and you’re still not published. Or maybe you just can’t justify spending the money to support a hobby you love, but that – face it -doesn’t promise any financial returns.

 

I’ve definitely felt the same way a LOT of times. I go to workshops and conferences, get all excited, and … nothing. Either I don’t hear from the faculty member who asked me to send my writing, or I receive a note that says I’m a strong writer, but the piece just doesn’t meet the publishing house’s needs at this moment. Oh, and P.S. (they add) Please don’t give up. I’m sure there’s another publishing house out there who will want to give your manuscript a home.

 

Ha. So reassuring. Right?

 

Not.

 

Well, I was there when I was spending hunks of time on my first novel. What I once loved had turned to a burden. Getting published seemed to rest on my shoulders. Twitter, Facebook, website, blog, etc. Daily deadlines that did nothing to inspire me to keep writing my book.

 

But what was worse was realizing that if my writing was never published, I was wasting time that could be better spent in some sort of ministry related activity. So I talked to God about it.

 

“I don’t know what to do, Lord,” I prayed. “I thought You called me to write. The words come easy. Ideas flood my mind. But I don’t want to waste time if I’m not in Your will.”

 

The answer was immediate. God spoke to my spirit. “Barbie, if the novel you are working on ministers to just one person, will that be enough for all the time you’ve spent working on it?”

 

Tears flooded my eyes. My Father understood me. Loved me. Heard even the unspoken words of my heart.

 

“Of course, it would,” I answered. “But it’s not my time I’m concerned about. I love writing. I’m concerned that what I’m doing isn’t what You want me to be doing.”

 

Again: “If what you are doing ministers to one person, do you think that could be My plan?”

 

“Oh, yes, Father.”

 

I thought about the beta copies I’d just sent out to a dozen friends when I finally finished my novel (for the zillionth time-ha!). Many had responded with how the words had touched their hearts. How they could relate to the character’s issues and struggles in her Christian walk. How the answers God gave her spoke to them, the readers.

 

I thought about the seven devotionals I write each year for piddly-little money. But it’s not about the money. It’s about spreading the gospel. And I thought about my blog. Every time I post, God seems to use the words to minister to someone. Usually just someone I already know. Not like my readership has blossomed.

 

But could it be that this is the very audience God desires for me to minister to? Could it be I got so excited about being called to write that I quickly assumed that meant to be in print? In the bookstores?

 

Or could God be calling me to reach the ones I already know with His love and encouragement? Would that be enough for me? For God?

 

Okay. I can’t tell you what a release I felt when the truth sank in. God had called me to write. I just needed to take the future results out of the box I’d filed them in and allow God to shape my writing future in any way He deems best. He didn’t call me to publish. He called me to write.

 

Then God spoke one more time to my heart. He confirmed His call so strongly I will never doubt it again.

 

But first, let me ask about you. Has God called you to write? Has a lack of “success” blocked you from moving forward? From attending a conference?

 

Sixteen years I’ve been coming, and you know, I strongly believe all these years of preparation and learning the craft of writing have enabled me to be used by God. To put His words and thoughts on paper. To share what He’s done for me, and what He wants to do for readers.

 

Lord Get Your NeedleSo I continue. Last year I self-published my first non-fiction book, a set of devotionals: Lord, Get Your Needle-I’m Falling Apart at the Seams. Subtitle: The Emotional Strain of Chronic Pain. And this May I self-published my first novel, Biz On the Go.

 

Huge sales? Nope. But many, many confirmations of God using the words to minister to His hurting children. Worth my time and effort? Definitely.

 

Biz AmazonToday, the fact that we can self-publish is HUGE. In fact, many big-name authors are going this route. Does it take work? Yes. But how exciting to know that we now have an avenue to put our words out there for others.

 

What did God say to me that cemented His call in my heart?

 

After I assured Him I was willing to write my whole life for just one person and that I knew He would be pleased, He said, “Good, because that one person is you.”

 

Oh, my. The love of God overpowered me. For me.

 

I knew my main character in the novel was much like me. In fact I’d hoped that I could share the lessons God had taught me through the character.

 

But what I didn’t realize was that in writing – in asking God constantly what He wanted to say to the character next – I was allowing God to speak to my life. The conflict and situations that seemed to spontaneously come to my mind for my character came from the Holy Spirit, and as I worked through them, on my character’s behalf, I worked through them for me. Deep, hidden questions. Wounds. Self-doubts. Painful honesty and surrender.

 

I’m a new creation because of what I experienced as I wrote. The truth I searched for on behalf of my main character has set me free on so many levels. Glory be to God!

 

So, before this email becomes a book, I want to encourage you to register for the July 26-28 Philly conference. Marlene is MORE than willing to work with you on time payments. We don’t want you to miss out.

 

Come spend time in the presence of God. Hear His voice and allow Him to rekindle the flame under your writing ministry and passion. Join with other writers and discover that friendship and support we all crave and need. Listen and improve your writing skills. Allow God to prepare you for what He has in mind for your future. For your world of influence.

 

Love in Christ!

 

Barb Haley
2018 GPCWC Registrar/Appointments Coordinator

 

Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

P.S. from Marlene

 

Thank You, Father, for speaking so powerfully to Barb and giving her the gift of words to share her story with us.

 

If you have a book manuscript you’ve been unable to place with a traditional publisher, do pray about indie publishing. Bestselling author, Dan Walsh, is teaching a continuing session on “The Brave New World of Indie Publishing” at the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. After successfully publishing 13 novels the traditional way, in 2015 Dan joined a large number of fellow authors who were all starting to publish their books on their own as indies. He’s now done 5 and says he “absolutely loves it.”

 

Six other continuing sessions, 3 new learning labs on Thursday afternoon, 35 workshops, 6 keynotes, panels, and one-on-one appointments with our faculty of 40 agents, authors, editors, and other professionals make GPCWC 2018 a not-to-miss conference. And it’s not too late to register!

 

We’ve moved to Dock Mennonite Academy, just off the Lansdale exit of the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike. Lodging is only five minutes away at the Holiday Inn. We hope to see you there!

Without a doubt I KNOW the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference is going to be a powerful and life-changing conference!
How can I be so certain?
  • Our outstanding faculty of 40 agents, authors, editors, and other professionals. Almost half (18) have never been to GPCWC; 5 were not with us last year.
  • New three-and-a-half-hour Learning Labs on Thursday afternoon:

    Build Your Author Platform with Sarah Bolme, Director of CSPA
    (The Christian Small Publishers Assoc.)

    The Making of a Nonfiction Book with literary agent Diana Flegal

    Focus on Fiction with bestselling author Dan Walsh

    or three hour-long workshops from 1:00 – 4:30:
    Mining for Stories, Get the Most Out of Your Appointments,
    The Care and Feeding of Editors.

  • Six keynotes that will address the critical need for us to “Write His Answer” and will encourage us to grow closer to the Lord and not give up.
Launch Your Writing Ministry
The Successful Author of Nonfiction
Brave New World of Indie Publishing
Hook that Editor!
Speaking and Writing
Take Your Fiction to the Next Level
Writing Narrative Nonfiction
  • Thirty-five workshops in 7 tracks: Writer’s Life, Craft, Fiction, Nonfiction, Get Published, Marketing, and Issues.
  • Catered meals – Friday and Saturday dinner and Friday lunch; Honey Baked Ham box lunch on Saturday. Yum! No one else will be using the cafeteria, so faculty will have a name card on their table and you can sit with them.
  • Our new location at Dock Mennonite Academy – lovely campus just five minutes from the Lansdale Exit of the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike (I-476).
  • Lodging at the Holiday Inn just off the turnpike exit and five minutes from the conference. You can cut your cost in half or by a third if you share a room with one or two friends who write. Our block has been released and the price slightly increased, but there are still rooms available.

I’m excited and praising God for all He is doing, all He will do, and for how He has carried me through the countless obstacles this year’s three conferences have faced. They’ve been over the top! You may have read about some of them on my blog. Things have happened for which there is no explanation other than the conferences must be a threat to the evil one.

 

A week before I left to direct the Colorado conference Outlook crashed and deleted all the emails in my 2015-2018 Colorado and Philly conference folders. Strangely, emails in more than a hundred non-conference folders were not touched. Six hours with tech support did not recover the emails but did intensify the time pressures and stress I was under. For the first time since delivering my three babies I ended up in the hospital for a day with symptoms of a heart attack. PTL I did NOT have a heart attack, but with all the time lost I was unable to get the Philly brochure to the printer before I left for Colorado.

 

The same evening Outlook crashed the latest copy of my 13,000 name mailing list in Access also mysteriously disappeared. When the Philly brochure finally came off press (a month late), I thought I had found an earlier copy of the mailing list that included everyone who came to last year’s GPCWC. Sadly, I later discovered the names of over 70 writers who attended the last two conferences were missing from the list.

 

I’ve never forgotten what my friend, Jim Watkins, said a number of years ago. “You can’t get hundreds of Christians together and equip them to write for the Lord and have the devil say, ‘Isn’t that nice.’”

 

So . . . I want to encourage you to pray about coming. If you can’t make the entire two-and-a-half-day conference, you’re welcome to come just for a day. Time payments can be arranged if needed, but don’t delay if you want to order meals. We MUST get the count to the caterer Thursday, July 19. And the conference registration fee increases July 22.

 

I know Father is going to use GPCWC 2018 (our 35th conference!) in Ephesians 3:20 ways. I’m praying you’ll be able to come.

 

God bless you and your writing.

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