Tag Archives: guest posts

Just Keep Learning; Just Keep Learning (Guest Post)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Just Keep Learning; Just Keep Learning

by Steph Beth Nickel

Books. Workshops. Free and paid social media groups. Courses. Conferences.

Most creatives have a plethora of resources at their fingertips.

I doubt if I’ll ever complete the books and courses I already own. However, I’m likely to buy more. And those lifetime subscriptions and bundles at unbelievably low prices… Those draw me in far too often.

While I’m doing better at using the materials I have on hand and resisting the temptation to buy something if I already own something similar, there are still times I sign up for things like free online workshops that sound interesting.

And while I don’t recommend succumbing to FOMO, the fear of missing out, there are times a new purchase—or the commitment to attend a virtual event—can make us re-evaluate what and why we write.

That’s what happened to me recently.

Have you ever noticed that creatives are among the most generous people on the planet?

The workshop I attended last Saturday proved this to me yet again. It was two-and-a-half hours long and jam-packed with practical, applicable writing-related information. Plus, participants had the opportunity to do significant self-examination and answer questions in the free workbook that was included. No cookie cutter answers. And no unattainable promises.

All this and more—and no heavy-handed sales pitch. In fact, the presenter took only a few moments to inform us about her yearlong program that she made clear would not be right for everyone—not even everyone on the call. Generosity and integrity… They both mean a lot to me.

As some of you know, I began a YA speculative fiction story a number of years ago. I had a lot of fun writing the first third of the book. When I was concerned that I was wandering around in the mire as I approached the middle of the story, I decided it was time to write the last chapter to see where I was headed. (I’ve done something similar with other writing projects and it helped a great deal.)

Still, for a number of reasons—including questioning whether I should actually write the book—it has sat on my computer, neglected for far too long.

When answering one of the questions from the workshop, a question about the point of my writing, it became clear that the protagonist’s journey and growth were, indeed, relatable—potentially inspirational even. These insights had never struck me before.

The workshop presenter stressed that the point of our writing doesn’t mean the in-your-face “moral of the story.” But we are all trying to make a point with our writing. And when we recognize that point and are convinced that it’s worthwhile, this just may be the verification we need that we should persevere and push through the obstacles that stand in our way.

I’ll forever be glad I signed up for the workshop—and spent over two hours considering what makes me who I am and how that applies to my writing.

So, my fellow creatives, to quote Dory from Finding Nemo—well, almost, “Just keep learning; just keep learning.”


Photo of Steph Beth Nickel
Photo credit: Jaime Mellor Photography

Steph Beth Nickel is a freelance editor and writer and an author. If you would like more information about her services, you can contact her at nurtureandinspire@gmail.com.
Feel free to join her Editing Tips Facebook group here:
 https://www.facebook.com/groups/418423519384351.

What They Write and Why (Guest Post)

Why do writers write what they do?

What They Write and Why

By Steph Beth Nickel

Are you part of a writers’ group?

The ladies I’ve met with over the past decade are diverse, as is their writing. But we’ve learned much during our time together, including what we want to write and why—for now at least.

Memoir

Barbara is working on a talk she will be giving to the ladies at her church in December. Her husband passed away from ALS, and she will be sharing some of that journey. This is a highly emotional topic, but one she feels ready to dig into now that some time has passed. Barbara has come to realize there may, indeed, be enough material to write a book, something she has been encouraged to do.

Even though there may be no one in the audience who has lost someone to ALS, Barbara’s listeners will be able to relate to the depth of emotion, the sense of loss, the challenge of believing in God’s goodness and love even when the darkness threatens to engulf you.

Do you have a personal story to tell? Have you struggled with pain, illness, broken relationships? Do you wonder if anyone could relate, if sharing your story would be more than simply a cathartic experience for you?

You might be surprised what a blessing you can be to others.

Romantic Suspense

In the past, Darlene has blogged about some of the most painful and challenging times in her past, but currently, she is focused on fiction. She likes to read—and write—romantic suspense. She enjoyed Nancy Drew as a girl, as many of us did. And this serves as inspiration for her award-winning stories. She and her agent are hunting for the right publishing home for her work.

Which books fostered your love of reading? What do you enjoy reading today? Have you considered writing in the same genre? Perhaps you should.

The journey to publication can be long and filled with a string of highs and lows. But if this is where your heart is, take courses, attend conferences, read skills development books, and write, write, write … and then write some more. Perseverance is key—to this and most any form of writing.

Eclectic Writing

Lisa writes nonfiction to share what she has learned, to encourage others, and to enable them to write more skillfully. She writes fiction to tell the whole truth. There is a depth to the human condition that is sometimes best examined in a story.

Lisa is an expert in writing in deep point of view, and her new book Method Acting for Writers: Learn Deep Point of View Using Emotional Layers teaches others how to draw in readers and keep them engaged from page 1.

Do you have a wide variety of interests? While there is a time to focus on a single project or a single genre, you may want to explore a number of the many options available to today’s creative.

Our group members are also writing poetry, devotionals, and book reviews, as well as other things.

If you’re not sure what you’d like to write, connect with other writers, in person or online, and ask what they write and why. Your conversations may spark your creativity and lead you to write something you hadn’t before imagined.

You can learn more about Darlene and her writing at darlenelturner.com and Lisa and hers at lisahallwilson.com/.

[Note: this post first appeared September 13, 2018, on InScribe’s Blog on Writing.]

~~~

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter.

The Stages of Adventuring (Guest Post)

The Stages of Adventuring

by Steph Beth Nickel

Have you been on any adventures lately? Are you on an adventure now? How do you feel about adventuring?

My hubby and I are adventuring in the Maritimes. We’re having a wonderful time as we explore all four provinces on our whirlwind tour.

Has it been nothing but unicorns and rainbows? Definitely not.

Tend, with caption: "This would be our first campsite on PEI. Yep, that’s the Atlantic outside our front door."

This would be our first campsite on PEI. Yep, that’s the Atlantic outside our front door.
[Photo Credit: Steph Beth Nickel]

So what are the stages of adventuring?

Decide to Adventure

It’s true that not all “adventures” are those of our choosing, but that’s not typically true of vacations.

Dave and I first decided to travel east after our 2017 vacation in Alberta.

Because we’re tenting 10 of the 17 days, Dave thought it would be cheaper and take less planning.

Such was not the case.

Even when we choose to go on an adventure, we must mentally make provision for the unexpected.

Prepare to Adventure

I booked our accommodations, prepared the shopping lists, and purchased the food and other supplies.

Dave undertook the time-intensive project of booking campsites and plotting our route.

All the while, we were seeking to get extra work done at our day jobs.

By late Sunday afternoon, I was done in. We were scheduled to leave on Thursday at 1:00, and I was uncertain whether the trip was worth all the effort.

There may come a point as we prepare to adventure that we’re ready to call it quits.

Begin the Adventure

By 2:00 on Thursday, we were on the road, only an hour later than we’d hoped.

My hubby, who is doing the driving, did not consider the next eight hours much of an adventure. There was lots of construction and it took that long to get to Gananoque.

But what a delightful B & B.

The hosts were friendly. The suite immense. And the made-to-order breakfast was included.

When we’re finally ready to set off on an adventure, we need to take a deep breath and go for it.

Look for God-Sightings on the Adventure

The luxury of the B & B in Gananoque was evidence of God’s grace. (I had no idea it was so lovely when I booked it.)

When we returned to our campsite after exploring Charlottetown for the day, we discovered the owner of the campgrounds had graciously covered our tent with tarps to keep it dry. Talk about going above and beyond!

And one more thing: the stars!

No one really wants to get up in the night to use the facilities, but I was actually glad I did. I looked up and the stars were incredible.

So, whatever adventure we’re on, may we remember to look up.

Whether we’re on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation or an “adventure” we’d never choose for ourselves, may we keep our eyes open for the Lord and His handiwork.

Tweetables

Keep your eyes open for the Lord and His handiwork. (Click to tweet)

No matter what the adventure, keep looking up. (Click to tweet)

~~~

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter.

The Importance of Community (Guest Post)

The Importance of Community

by Steph Beth Nickel

We're created for communityAccountability Partner

My hubby and I are going to Jasper, Alberta this summer. Dave has been dreaming for decades about showing me his favourite place in the world.

Because he wants to hike when we’re there, Dave feels the need to improve his cardio endurance. So, earlier this week, he decided to get a gym membership. Mine has been dormant for quite a while despite my best intentions, but this will get us there every other day. At least that’s the plan.

Many people are more motivated to work out if someone else is counting on them. Accountability is a very good thing. I happen to enjoy exercise but keep putting it off if I’m not answerable to anyone.

The benefits of accountability and community aren’t restricted to fitness endeavours.

Christian Community

Just this week at our staff prayer meeting (I work as administrator at our church), we discussed the importance of coming together to pray, worship, and fellowship.

For good reason, in Hebrews 10:24-25, God instructs, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together . . .” (ESV)

These are among my favourite verses in Scripture. They overflow with a sense of community and our role within that community. Each of us has something of value to offer. It’s significant that the Bible refers to believers in Jesus Christ as not only members of the same family but also parts of the same body. We really do need one another. In fact, each one is indispensable.

We are to encourage, build up, and keep one another accountable.

One Anothers

In fact, the Bible overflows with “one another” statements:

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour” (Romans 12:10 ESV). What an amazing community we’d have if we obeyed these directives!

“Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:16 ESV). Harmony … such a sweet word!

“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Romans 15:7 ESV).

We can only obey these commands and the numerous other “one anothers” throughout the Scriptures in the context of community.

Worth the Risk

Granted, there are risks involved. We’ve all been hurt by others. And if we’re honest, we’ll admit we’ve hurt others as well.

If larger groups are too difficult to face, we can seek out at least one other person who will support us and keep us accountable. We may then want to become part of a small group. Our Growth Group has been a real blessing, a safe place to “do life” with one another. And being part of a local fellowship gives us lots of opportunities to come alongside one another, to minister using our unique gifts and abilities, and to fulfill God’s plans for us.

Do you have a support system? Do you offer support to others? Are you part of a Christian community?

(Scroll down to share your comment.)

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

The Grass is Always Greener—or is It? (Guest Post)

The Grass is Always Greener—or is It?

By Steph Beth Nickel

I had an epiphany recently.

I would have said, by and large, I was content—happy even. But then I took a closer look at my dreams and aspirations.

"The grass isn't always greener."

Work Life

I serve as church administrator. The hours are good. I have every Friday off. I enjoy interacting with the other staff members and those who call or pop into the office.

But part of me would enjoy earning enough money from writing that I wouldn’t need to work outside the home. Odd … because I’m an extrovert.

Ministry Life

I am involved with the Awana program at church. I love the kids and enjoy sharing the truths of Scripture with them.

But I would like to help develop a more active ladies’ ministry. Plus, I’d love to have the opportunity to once again speak to ladies’ groups at other churches and at workshops, seminars, and conferences. Years ago I spoke fairly regularly.

Writing Life

Most of my writing opportunities are in the area of nonfiction. And I’m honoured to be a contributor to HopeStreamRadio and to be working on a follow-up to Paralympian Deb Willows’s memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances.

But I have tried my hand at fiction and have gotten some great comments. The fact that I love to read novels is likely why I would like to write short stories, if not full-length fiction. Plus, I have an idea for a series I’d love to develop.

Spiritual Life

Having dreams and aspirations isn’t a bad thing, but it can get in the way of obeying Colossians 3:23, which says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (ESV).

Whatever you do …

So whether I’m creating the bulletin, cleaning toilets (as co-custodian with my hubby, I do that too), or hitting the best-seller list (not really a dream of mine, but you get the picture), I ought to be doing it for God’s glory. [Tweet this: Do each task in a way that honours God.]

While both women’s and children’s ministry are important, for now, I’m involved with children. Not only should I do it “for the Lord,” I must remember that I can be instrumental in pointing boys and girls to Jesus and that’s an incredible privilege (Matthew 19:14).

I have a number of writing and editing projects on the go. In order to fulfill these responsibilities, I must buckle down and focus. I must also, more regularly, give thanks for these opportunities. I have this moment; the next isn’t guaranteed. If I am to write fiction, I will—someday.

How about you? Do you consider the different aspects of your life and wish they were different?

Just remember … the grass isn’t always greener [tweet this].

As believers in Jesus, may we commit Colossians 3:23 to memory and seek to live it out.

 

(Scroll down to share your comment.)

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

My Theme for 2017: Less (Guest Post)

My Theme for 2017: Less

by Steph Beth Nickel

Having read Kevin DeYoung’s newest book, Crazy Busy, I came face to face with what I already knew: I spend far too much time doing things that don’t actually propel me toward my goals.

Clock with words "we must refuse to fritter away our discretionary time"

My word of the year for 2016 was more, as in more time spent writing and editing, more time spent in prayer and Bible study, more time seeking the Lord with my hubby and our daughter. My lack of success in these areas could be because I wasn’t focussed on the flipside of the coin.

If we’re going to achieve more, something has to give. We have to do less of something else.

So how does this apply to writing?

We must refuse to fritter away our discretionary time.

“Discretionary time? What discretionary time?” you may ask.

But let’s be honest. Do we watch even half an hour of TV most days? Do we spend far too much time on Facebook and the other social networks? Do we spend hours each week waiting on our children—at sports practice, music lessons, and other extracurricular activities?

You don’t need hours and hours of uninterrupted time to write a book—and certainly not a blog post or an article. There was one author I heard about who wrote an entire book in 20-minute increments during his lunch break. Amazing!

DO THIS: Take a look at your schedule and see where you can “steal” 20 minutes here, an hour there.

We must learn to say no.

Many—if not most—of us are not only busy, but we keep taking on more and more responsibilities. If you’re like me, you don’t want to miss any opportunity that comes along. Thankfully, I’m learning to say no; I’m learning to focus on what’s already on my plate; I’m learning to take on less.

Lysa TerKeurst wrote a book called The Best Yes. It’s about analyzing why we say yes when we are already overtaxed and really shouldn’t be taking on anything more. The book also addresses the importance of saying no or not now so we will be free to say yes when God brings a specific opportunity across our path.

If we feel God has called us to write, we must free up dozens—if not hundreds—of hours. We may find some time by restructuring our discretionary time, but very likely we’ll have to make even more significant changes.

DO THIS: Prayerfully examine your To Do list and choose one or more time-consuming items you are willing to eliminate in order to have more time to write.

We must spend less time making excuses.

There are legitimate reasons we don’t put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, but excuses often outnumber these reasons.

That voice in our head that says …

“Everything that needs to be said has already been said—far better than you could ever express it.”

“Writing is a selfish endeavour. Think of your family and friends.”

“You may squeak out the time to write, but you don’t have the time to hone your skills.”

“And you certainly don’t have the funds needed to get your work published.”

“God didn’t really call you to write. You’re delusional.”

DO THIS: Identify the #1 obstacle that keeps you from writing and create a game plan to crush it. The first step is often to simply pick up that pen or open that Word doc and get writing.

And what will I be doing over the next weeks and months? Hopefully, taking my own advice.

What are your writing plans for 2017? (Scroll down to share your comment.)

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

3 Challenges of the Christian Book Lover (Guest Post)

3 Challenges of the Christian Book Lover

by Steph Beth Nickel

3 Tips for Book LoversGiving a Kind Critique

Have you ever been asked to critique someone’s writing or been approached to be a beta reader? (A beta reader is given an author’s unpublished manuscript for review.)

Anyone who writes knows how hard it is to allow others not only to read the words they’ve spent hours—sometimes even months or years—grueling over but also to ask readers for feedback, both what they liked and what they didn’t.

As believers, we want to be kind and encouraging. We want to build up rather than tear down. These are godly responses, but we must also seek to be honest.

How can you and I express our opinion in a way that is both honest and encouraging?

Here are three suggestions:

Before you start to read, ask what the writer is looking for in particular. Don’t give them a list of grammatical errors if they primarily want to know if the characters are believable and the storyline plausible, for example.

Remember to list what you liked as well as what you didn’t. Some people use the 2-1 rule: list two positives for every negative. Others simply list the things they enjoyed first and then those they feel could be improved.

Even if you’re an editor, a critique is not the same as an edit. Try to approach the work as a typical reader rather than a professional, although there will, of course, be an overlap. It’s hard to switch off the editor brain even when reading for pleasure.

Tweetable: Build up, don’t tear down, when giving a critique. (click to tweet)

Leaving a Realistic Review

If we’ve been asked to leave a review—or simply if we choose to do so, it can be challenging if we didn’t particularly like the book.

We may not want to hurt the author’s feelings—or their sales—especially if we know them personally.

While we want to be kind to the author, we must also keep in mind those who may choose to read a book based upon our review.

Here are three suggestions:

Deliberately look for something positive to include in your review, especially if you can’t honestly give it four or five stars. Point out what you enjoyed—or what other readers might enjoy—before listing those things you didn’t like.

It’s best to leave a brief review. Even so, take the time to craft it well and read it over a few times before posting.

And when it comes to reviewing books by authors you know, you may not want agree to do so if you think your review may affect their sales and / or your relationship with them.

Tweetable: Give kind but honest reviews. (click to tweet)

Selfless Self-Promotion

Whether we write, edit or proofread, we may have to promote our work. As Christians, we may find this difficult to do. After all, humility is a godly trait. However, humility doesn’t mean denying the gifts and abilities the Lord has enabled us to develop.

I once heard of an author who said if he didn’t believe his book would be valuable to his reader and worth their financial investment, he had no business writing it. What a great perspective!

The same is true of any creative or professional endeavour we are involved in. And if it has value to others, it makes sense to make them aware of it.

How can we do so without coercing others or allowing pride to motivate us?

Here are three suggestions:

Truly consider how others will benefit. Keep them in mind when developing a marketing strategy and promoting your product or service.

Be generous. Many creatives, even those who aren’t believers, give away bonus material that is of significant value. They may offer their first book free. They may record podcasts or webinars that are more than simply promotional tools. Follow their example and seek to bless your readers or clients.

Although this may sound overly “spiritual,” believers ought to pray about this, as they should about all areas of life. God will show you how to engage in selfless self-promotion if you ask.

Tweetable: Consider how your writing will benefit the reader when marketing. (click to tweet)

Will you accept these challenges? What could you add to these lists?

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel
(Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

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The Write Thing to Do

The Write Thing to Do

by Steph Beth Nickel

Tomorrow I will have the privilege of attending Write Canada. Although I wasn’t able to attend the entire conference this year, there are still many benefits of attending Saturday only. It was the write thing to do.

"Do the Write Thing"

Photo credit: Pixabay

Why?

Learn New Things

Just in case you ever wondered if I’m truly eclectically interested … this year I’m taking a couple of fiction classes, “Structuring Your Fiction” with Davis Bunn and “Deep Point-of-View” with Marcy Kennedy; “Do Good Not Harm: Writing to Empower,” a class whose description begins like this: Christians are uniquely positioned to bring a message of hope and redemption to a world broken by poverty, oppression and injustice (sounds great, doesn’t it?); and finally, a panel discussion on vlogs and blogs.

Refresh and Re-ignite

It may seem strange to say that after a jam-packed day, including approximately five hours of traveling, I anticipate returning home refreshed and re-ignited to devote several hours every week to writing. There’s something about hanging out with dozens of other writers that does that to me.

Discover What’s New in the Industry

In many ways, the journey to becoming a writer isn’t what it used to be. And it certainly doesn’t look the same for every writer. Finding out what’s new in the industry is invaluable. While it may seem overwhelming, it also helps the writer plot the course that best suits him or her.

Make Professional Connections

We hear a lot about networking these days. And of course there’s the old saying, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” While that is only true to a certain extent (after all, it’s each writer’s responsibility to become the best he or she can be), those connections can help you get from where you are to where you want to be on the journey to publication.

Be Challenged to Write Something New

This is probably a good reason for me to stay home, but it’s still a great reason to attend a writers’ conference. I never imagined writing a memoir. Yet, I had the privilege of co-authoring Paralympian Deb Willows’ Living Beyond My Circumstances. Deb and I are now working on a follow-up book. (I attended my first conference with the lady who introduced Deb and me. I also met our publisher there.) Because of this project, I had the joy of co-teaching a class with Carolyn Wilker on memoir writing at the 2015 Write Canada. You just never know what doors are going to open for you.

And probably the number one reason for me …

Reconnect with Friends

Write Canada is the only opportunity I have to reconnect in person with some dear friends. It also provides the opportunity to make new friends. And when those friends are fellow writers (and other industry pros), it is truly amazing. I will be flying for days—and hopefully, energized to go home and get writing.

Attending a writers’ conference or workshop just may be the write thing for you as well.

Tweetables:

[Scroll down to join the conversation.]

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel (Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.

Guest Post and Interview

I’ve had a couple of recent opportunities to visit other sites recently. If you visit, be sure to check out the other posts. Who knows what you might find that you’ll like?

 

I used to post monthly at InScribe Writers Online, and it was fun to go back for a guest post to talk about what opportunities I see for serving God in my writing. Here’s the link: My Corner of the Vineyard.

Because I have a short story in one of Kathy Ide’s Fiction Lovers Devotionals (in 21 Days of Love), she interviewed me on her website. What are some treasured moments to do with writing? What Bible story do I wish had a different ending? Here’s the link: Treasured Moments.

 

I Can Does Not Mean I Should

I Can Does Not Mean I Should

by Steph Beth Nickel

Oo, shiny!

That’s how I often feel when I hear of a new opportunity. You too?

I have what I refer to as the Butterfly Syndrome. I love to flit from one thing to the next to the next and then back to the first thing. While I don’t think it will ever be my approach, I do admire people who are able to stick with a single task until it is completed before moving on to the next. There are definite advantages to this approach.

But since I have several interests (and am easily distracted), potential opportunities come at me from all sides. I am learning s-l-o-w-l-y that I can’t pursue them all—as much as I’d like to.

Add to my natural tendencies the fact that I’m a Christian and don’t want to miss an opportunity God brings my way and I’m off and running … figuratively speaking. I’m not like my amazing friend Janet, who participates in 5K events and our mutual friend Kimberley, who participates in Mudmoiselle. (Kudos, my friends! I am truly impressed.)

But even as Christians, we don’t have to say yes to every opportunity, every request. (For more on this, I highly recommend Lysa TerKuerst’s book The Best Yes. She guides readers through the whys and wherefores of identifying when they should say no so they’ll be ready to give their best yes.)

I COULDN’T.

Now, I believe there should be a progression in every Christian’s life. Many of us, when presented with a new opportunity, think—or even say, “Oh, I could never do that.” (At least this is the case if we’re not busy flitting about, trying our hand at everything that comes along.)

MAYBE I COULD.

As we mature, we come to the realization that just maybe we could do whatever it is. I’ve found myself thinking, “I could do that? Cool!” Often this has nothing to do with self-confidence or arrogance. Hopefully, there comes a time when we realize God has equipped us to do things we never imagined possible. This is an exhilarating mindset. And it’s very in-keeping with my “oo, shiny” attitude. If you’re wondering, it feels a little like an ongoing caffeine/sugar high.

can-t can should

BUT SHOULD I?

Not that long ago, the Lord brought me to a new realization. It may seem self-evident. And I wouldn’t blame you if you said, “Well, d’uh!” although I know you’re much too polite to do so. The final step in this three-step progression is this: when someone asks us to do something or we become aware of an interesting opportunity, we should … wait for it … we should ask, “Lord, is this something You want me to do? And if so, what should I set aside in order to do it to the best of my ability?”

I’m still learning Step 3. But it really is even more exciting than the second step. After all, knowing God will give me wisdom and direction and will guide me step-by-step … now that blows my mind.

Will I always flit from one thing to the next? Most likely. But with God’s help, I will try to stay in the same corner of the garden—at least for a little while. Care to join me? [Scroll down to join the conversation.]

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel (Photo by Stephen G. Woo Photography)

Stephanie (Steph Beth) Nickel is an award-winning co-author, a freelance editor and writer, a labour doula, and a former personal trainer. She also loves to speak, teach, and take slice-of-life photos. She would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter, on her website or blog.