Tag Archives: Violet Nesdoly

5 Posts that have resonated with me lately

At Under the Cover of Prayer, Jen Cudmore shares a challenge to go deeper than surface prayers for people who may irritate us–to do battle for them in prayer. See the full post: You Want Me to Pray for Whom?

At Other Food: daily devos, Violet Nesdoly reminds us that even Christians, if we’re not careful, can find ourselves living according to the flesh instead of the Spirit if we’re “following sinful tendencies in ways that may not even appear overtly sinful… living as if God did not exist. That is, living by one’s own resources and wits.” For wisdom on how to live oriented to the Spirit instead of the natural, read Turn the Dial to “Spirit”.

At Christian Work at Home Ministries, Melinda Means offers Three Ways to Follow God’s Plan for Your Work (for those days when our to-do lists threaten to rule us).

At Choose NOW Ministries, Tara Fairfield shares her top 5 strategies to be ready for the faith-testing storms of life. Read When the Perfect Storm Hits.

And at New Music Tuesday, an interview with Jonny Diaz gives me a new perspective on why it’s okay to be inadequate. See Jonny Diaz: Lettin’ It Fly.

When God says "I've Got This" -- He has.

What if We Believed God?

For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:9, NLT*

I have the privilege of reading the children’s story at church on Sundays. For Easter, I chose one from Violet Nesdoly’s site, Bible Drive-Thru, and in hindsight I shouldn’t have been surprised that Violet’s words would teach me too.

Her story explained how Jesus had warned the disciples that He would die and be resurrected, but when the women came from the tomb with the news, “they were shocked. Their surprise shows that either they didn’t hear Him, or they didn’t believe Him, or both.” [read the full post here: Death to Death]

Well of course the disciples didn’t believe Jesus when He told them what would happen. They didn’t want to believe the dying part, and the rising again part was more than their minds and experience could process. We only know better because the Resurrection happened. People saw proof and handed their experience down to us.

It got me thinking: what else may God have told us in His Word that our minds have naturally sloughed off because it doesn’t fit our human understanding?

Our God, the Bible brims with promises and hope, yet we confess that sometimes we trust our thoughts above Your Word. We believe our doubts rather than Your truth. Often we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Please remind us of what You said and give us faith to believe You really meant it—and meant it for us. Help our unbelief.

One of my favourite artists, Jonny Diaz, released a new album this month: Let it Fly. This song is a good reminder for us: “Live Like He’s Alive.”

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

To See God

Where there is no vision, the people perish:
but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.
Proverbs 29:18, KJV*

Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.
Proverbs 29:18, NIV**

When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild.
But whoever obeys the law is joyful.
Proverbs 29:18, NLT***

Interesting nuances in the translations of this verse. The opening phrase is what’s on my mind today, with the vision / revelation / divine guidance – that which we need to not only receive but accept and obey.

I usually think of this verse in terms of direction and planning: of a corporate sense of purpose. But God’s been suggesting to me that there’s more to vision than just seeing the next step in His plan.

There’s seeing Him.

Not literally – not yet – but seeing, believing, accepting His revelation of who He is. His character. His attributes. His promises, laws and requirements.

Do we really know Him? Or are we distracted by the pain or pleasure in our own small lives? Too often the problems look bigger than the God who can solve them. Or we pray for help but don’t really believe things will change, because we don’t see them changing.

Instead, we need to see God.

At Other Food: daily devos, Violet Nesdoly often quotes J.I. Packer’s classic, Knowing God (affiliate link for The Word Guild). I received a copy for Christmas, and God is using the opening chapters to reinforce what He’s been saying to me about my need to actually see Him – to know Him rather than just knowing about Him. To believe Him instead of believing whatever stress is currently staring me down.

Holy and mighty God, You spoke the universe into being and You proved Yourself as Israel’s King and defender. You haven’t changed. Reveal Yourself to Your people today as we live among people who reject You and who are indeed casting off restraint and running wild. Guide us. Strengthen us. Give us a glimpse of who You really are, so we can stand in firm confidence in You, so that others will see You too.

Paul Baloche’s “Open the Eyes of My Heart” is a good prayer for today.

*King James Version (KJV) Public domain.

**New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

***New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

In the Hard Times

Crow in the rainThese days I have two prayer lists near to my heart: eight teens numbing their pain with choices that make it worse, and five couples dealing with serious illness. And a third mini-list of friends with heavy burdens.

Trouble is alive and well, and what do we do about it? We can’t wish it away, and we can’t turn into whiners. Here are three posts that pointed me in the right direction this week:

Why do bad things happen? Glynis Belec knows there’s no easy answer and yet she finds strength to face a new round of battle. Bitter-sweet (at My Journey)

In the middle of global or personal suffering, how do we cope? Violet Nesdoly shares the value of a good lament. Job’s Lament (at Other Food: daily devo’s)

Mary DeMuth’s open personal lament shows the difference bringing our hurts to God can make. A Mourning Prayer (at Live Uncaged)

Of the many “songs for the hard times” the one I’m hearing today is from the Newsboys: “When the Tears Fall.”

Review: Destiny’s Hands, by Violet Nesdoly

Destiny's Hands cover artDestiny’s Hands, by Violet Nesdoly (Word Alive Press, 2012)

Destiny’s Hands is the story of the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt as seen through the eyes of a gifted young Hebrew. Bezalel has trouble of his own, first as a slave and then as a free man, and family connections keep him close enough to Moses to observe the key events of the Exodus.

We may know the historical backdrop, but it’s interesting to stop and imagine what it felt like to the people living through it. They didn’t know what we know now, and Moses brought upheaval. Some believed, some didn’t. Most found it hard to trust Moses and to obey his instructions. Even sincere followers struggled with doubt and uncertainty.

The novel is a gentle read that acknowledges the harshness of the times but doesn’t dwell on the suffering. Instead its focus is the characters’ journey, both physical and spiritual. It covers the actual Exodus and the trip to Mount Sinai, including familiar elements like the crossing of the Red Sea, the grumbling in the wilderness, the golden calf and the Ten Commandments.

I enjoyed reading Bezalel’s story and the fresh look at his people’s liberation. My only disappointment was that it stopped so soon, and I’m hoping that means there’ll be a sequel. If you don’t know who the real Bezalel was, I won’t spoil it, but suffice to say God had a plan for his life. Destiny’s Hands ends as he steps into that purpose. I’d like to see him walk through it, and I’d like to see his people enter the Promised Land.

Canadian author Violet Nesdoly writes in many forms and genres. Destiny’s Hands was short-listed in Word Alive Press’ 2011 publishing contest, and it’s her first novel. To learn more about Violet, visit her website (previous link) and check out my interview with her: part 1 and part 2.

[Review copy provided by the author in exchange for a fair review.]

Interview: Canadian author Violet Nesdoly, part 2

Welcome back to part 2 of an interview with Violet Nesdoly, multi-talented writer from British Columbia, Canada. (Click for part 1 of the interview.)

Janet: Violet, last week we talked about the varieties of writing that you do. That’s a lot of work! What would be the perfect writer’s lair for you?

Violet Nesdoly with her new novel, Destiny's Hands Violet: Janet, I have it! When we bought our townhouse in 2007, I laid claim to the largest extra bedroom as my office. I have two desks (one for the computer, one for longhand writing), lots of shelves, a file cabinet. All I need is a lair-fairy to clean it up for me, and to go through and shred all the paper I no longer need to keep.

Janet: A lair-fairy—ooh, I could use one of those too. How does it feel when someone tells you they’ve changed because they connected with something you’ve written?

Violet: As you can imagine, this is huge! One of the reasons I chose to spend my days writing is because the writing of others has made a big impact on my life. I can think of many times a book has brought me to tears with the sense that God is in the room right beside me. The thought that God the Holy Spirit can inhabit words so that they communicate across time and distance is one of the mysteries of life.

When someone tells me that my words have helped them connect with God in some way, I feel a snap of rightness (like when puzzle pieces fit together) and am immensely grateful that I can do this thing that has the potential to impact people for eternity. 

Janet: I like that “snap of rightness” illustration. Those are the satisfying moments that make a writer’s work worthwhile. What do you like best about the writing life?

Violet: The variety. The independence (being my own boss). The challenge to always become a better writer. The vast opportunities because of advances in technology. The fact that I can connect with people all over the world at minimal cost.

Janet: What do you like least?

Violet: Marketing and publicity. Building a ‘platform’ via the social networks. Blowing my  own horn. Knowing that I’m responsible for selling a lot of books. Want to really know? I wrote about it here.

Janet: What do your family think of your writing?

Violet: My family has been so supportive. My husband is the best! He subscribes to my devotions, and gets my back when he finds typos. In all the years I’ve been freelancing, my career has never been a substantial money-maker. But he lets me muddle on, not begrudging me the time or shekels. He even cooks!

Janet: You have a keeper! Let’s step back and meet your non-writing side. What’s the rest of life like?

Violet: My husband and I attend a wonderful church (Christian Life Assembly), and I also attend and have taught at our women’s Wednesday morning program, Women By Design. 

Visiting our daughter, son-in-law and grandkids (a three-hour drive away) is always a treat, as is driving into the big city to dine with our adult son in restaurants of his choosing.

Not to be missed, of course, is the daily hour-long walk hubby and I go for each morning that it isn’t pouring rain. 

Janet: What are some of your favourite things?

Violet: Our grandkids (three beautiful pre-schoolers). Walks in the beautiful outdoors. Bird watching. Identifying wildflowers. My camera. My Kindle e-reader. Scrivener. My New Spirit-Filled Life Bible.

Janet: Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Violet: My life passage is Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

A song that has impacted me hugely is “You and Me Alone” by Norm Strauss. Norm is a Canadian singer-songwriter (roots style) and there’s not a lot of his stuff on YouTube. I did write about this particular song on my personal blog way back in 2005. If you’re interested in reading the lyrics and a bit about how the song has impacted me, the article is “marker stone – part 1.”

Janet: That’s a powerful story (I had to read “marker stone – part 2” as well.) I’m glad God has kept you writing! What are you reading these days?

Violet: Since I got my Kindle e-reader, I have more books on the go at one time than ever! The last piece of fiction I read was August Gamble by Linda Hall (downloaded from Smashwords). I also recently finished With Burning Hearts by Henri J. M. Nouwen (that was in hard copy),  Heaven Is for Real by Todd Burpo, Collections From a Forest – Volume 1, a book of poems by Charlie Van Gorkom, and Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles by Steven Stiles. I’m somewhere in the middle of The Transforming Power of the Gospel by Jerry Bridges and Rumours of Water by L. L. Barkat.

Janet: What are you listening to?

Violet: I got my husband a Jason Crabb CD for Christmas (Jason Crabb: The Song Lives On – Southern Gospel). I discovered I love it too. Other favourites are The Journey, a project by Stuart Townend, A Way to see in the Dark by Jason Gray, and whenever I’m doing our household’s number crunching, I tune in to Grooveshark Radio, search Andrew Peterson and line up a list of songs by him.

Janet: A number-crunching playlist. That’s a new one. As long as you’re not playing “Mission Impossible” I won’t worry! What do you like to do to get away from it all?

Violet: Hawaii!! We went this January. What fun! We also love to travel in British Columbia and explore out-of-the-way places. I’m always scouting for more murals and funky public art.

Janet:  There are murals in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia too (hint, hint). Thanks so much for taking time to let us get to know you a bit, Violet. May the Lord continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others—in every area of your life.

===

Destiny's Hands cover art

Destiny’s Hands is available now in print and e-book. You can read the opening chapters of Destiny’s Hands (Kindle version).

You can also find Violet Nesdoly via her main website (previous link) and at the following blogs:

Interview: Canadian author Violet Nesdoly

Today’s visitor is Violet Nesdoly, from British Columbia, Canada. Violet, I often include links to your Other Food: daily devo’s blog, and I realized that’s giving my readers a limited view of who you are. Yes, you write insightful devotionals for adults (and for kids at Bible Drive-thru). But that’s only part of what you do.

I first heard of you as a poet. Care to give us a peek at that part of your life?

Violet NesdolyViolet: First, thanks, so much, Janet, for your support of Other Food: daily devos, and your interest in general.

As you mention the bits and pieces of my writing life, I’m more aware than ever that I’ve built my career the wrong way. Common wisdom is that you choose a subject or genre and become an expert in it. However, it seems I’ve become more of 21st century Renaissance woman, with fingers in lots of pies.

Now, to your question about poetry—I’ve always viewed it as a sideline. But what a fun sideline! My poetry-writing time is my time to play and experiment. Poetry provides the perfect outlet for my love of words and my philosophical bent. It gives me a way to express my enjoyment of nature and dovetails with my hobby of photography.

I’ve put together two poetry collections (available as books) and currently post original poems once or twice a week on my poetry blog  Violet Nesdoly/poems. In addition, I’ve had the satisfaction of seeing my poems published in a few other print and online publications (e.g. Prairie Messenger, Rejoice,  Good Times, Your Daily Poem, Utmost Christian Writers, qarrtsiluni).

I’m also part of a local poets’ group, the Matsqui, Sumas, Abbotsford Poets Potpourri Society (MSA PPS). I am the society’s website administrator and take part in regular readings, open mics and club projects. (Actually, keeps me pretty busy. Maybe it isn’t as much a of sideline as I thought!)

Janet: As well as your own poetry, you’ve written columns on the subject and served as Utmost Christian Writers International Poetry Laureate (2006-2008). And one of your blogs, Line upon line, is writing-related. Teaching seems to be part of your focus too.

Violet: The experience of being Utmost Christian Writers’ Poet Laureate was a huge honour and the wherefore of my second book. 

Writing poetry how-to columns has motivated me to study the craft. I still write a regular (four-times-a-year) poetry column for FellowScript. Writing it forces me to think about how the process of writing poetry works and how I keep motivated so I can pass these things on to others.

As for teaching in general, I guess I have a little of that in my DNA. I have a degree in elementary education and taught in the public school system for a total of five years. Actually, my writing for children has been largely educational too. 

Janet: You also review books at Blogcritics, write a personal blog promptings, and run another blog Murals and More, where you post photographs of murals and public art. Have I left anything out?

Violet: One more thing comes to mind: a little storefront at Constant Content. That’s where I sell content for the web.

Janet: What got you started writing in the first place?

Violet: I started writing when I was in high school. A paper that we got when I was a kid (The Western Producer) had a section called the Young Cooperators Club that published the creative writing of children and teens. To join you gave yourself a pseudonym and submitted writing to the editor of your age group. I got my first taste of publication there as “Nell.”

I didn’t write much for public consumption during my early adult years but the dream of becoming a writer never died completely. After my children were in school, I decided to revive it. At the end of 1995 I enrolled in the “Writing for Children and Teens” course at the Institute for Children’s Literature and  sold my first piece of writing—a Keys for Kids devotion—in March of 1997. I’ve been freelancing ever since.

Janet: And what are you working on now?

Violet: Around 2002 I got an idea for a Bible fiction story (book-length). Over the years I’ve worked on that project, mostly doing research. In 2009 I spent the month of November (NaNoWriMo) writing the story that was in my head. Last spring I worked on it some more and entered it in the Word Alive Press (WAP) free publishing contest.

I was surprised when it made the list of finalists (released in September 2011). Destiny's Hands cover artI have decided to self-publish that book (called Destiny’s Hands, a fictional rendering of the story of Bezalel, the head craftsman of the tabernacle and its accessories—Exodus). I have just finished doing a six-week edit of that manuscript and got it off my desk and into the hands of my editor at WAP  mid-March.

Janet: Congratulations on reaching the publishing stage! Destiny’s Hands is now available, and I’m looking forward to reading it. The cover is beautiful.

Here’s the link to part 2 of this interview with Violet Nesdoly.

Words of Comfort

butterflyI’ve been collecting words of comfort from writers I respect. Here are a few:

At Other Food: Daily Devos, Violet Nesdoly asks “Have you ever thought of your griefs and disappointments as seed?

At Hearing the Heartbeat, Carolyn Watts offers insight for “When Words Fail.”

At (in)courage, Lysa TerKeurst reminds us “Don’t Despise the Small.”

At Meet Me in the Meadow, Roy Lessin reminds us that “Peace is Yours.”

And Mary De Muth reassures us that “God Sees When You Feel Small.”

Bonus link added after the original post: Paula Vince’s “To Get Rid of the Reproach of Egypt.”

Three Good Things

Today is gone, it was not fun. Tomorrow is another one. Every day from here to there, funny things are everywhere.” (With apologies to Dr. Seuss’ One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish)

Certain Seuss-isms have lodged in my brain and pop out at times to bother my children. The good Doctor actually wrote “today was fun” and I tend to quote this one properly at the end of a good but tiring day. But the day in question had been stressful and I was glad to see the end of it.

Instead of his usual Seuss-induced eye roll, my 15-year-old stepped into my personal space, index finger outstretched, and challenged, “Name three good things that happened today. Fast.”

Umm.

There had been good things, not least being that although anxiety had hounded me all day I hadn’t crumpled. I was just tired of the repetitive battle.

He didn’t move. “Three good things.”

I don’t remember now which three I told him, but his moment of tough love is up there with the best things in that day.

How quickly we forget the good, or focus on the bad instead. And as Ann Voskamp says in One Thousand Gifts, even the bad can be a gift if we choose to recognize God there and continue giving thanks.

Gratitude has to be intentional. Deliberate. Radical.

For further reading:

At A Voice Crying Out into the Wilderness, Roger Tharpe reminds us of the importance of remembering the good.

At Other Food: daily devos, Violet Nesdoly affirms that gratitude is a choice.

And you’re bound to find something valuable about gratitude at Ann Voskamp’s A Holy Experience.

Interview: The Editors of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider

Since A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stimulate the Mind and Delight the Spirit was released in May 2011, the book’s writers have participated in more than 150 readings and signings in seven provinces.

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider is an all-Canadian book that is receiving five-star reviews. The inspirational collection of stories by writers who share a Christian faith perspective contains short fiction, poetry, and personal experience articles, all of which provide hope and encouragement. [See more about the extensive cross-Canada launch.]

The book signings continue, and they’re listed on the Meet Us page of the hotapplecider.ca website. If there’s one near you, drop in to say hello!

In the January/February 2012 issue of Faith Today, reviewer Violet Nesdoly wrote, “Though the writing styles  are varied, the book [A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider] was skilfully edited to preserve  the individual  voices while  providing  a smooth  read.” [Faith Today review, part one and part two.]

The anthology’s co-editors, N.J. Lindquist  and Wendy Elaine Nelles,  did an amazing job of pulling the selections together, and they’ve taken time to answer a few questions:

Janet: A year ago now, you were both putting in some incredibly long hours to get the book ready for print. The initial work had started in August 2010, and for four months (October/10 to January/11), you were working seven days a week. You barely took time off for Christmas or New Years. This is the second volume of Hot Apple Cider, and you knew what you were getting into. What made you believe so strongly in the project?

N.J. LindquistNJL: Back in 2007, I was very frustrated because there were so few Christian books being published in Canada and there was very little support. When the opportunity arose to work with World Vision Canada, to have Canadian books given out at their events, I was determined to find a way to do it.  That led to Hot Apple Cider in 2008, which was written by 30 authors who had already published books.

However, I really wanted to have an open call for stories so that newer or unpublished writers could have a chance to be included. I knew that if the opportunity to produce a second book arose I would grab it. It was a terrific opportunity to help a whole bunch of new writers learn about the editing and promotion process, not to mention having their voices heard. And it also means another great book going out to readers.

Wendy Elaine NellesWEN: We believe strongly in the project because of all the many benefits it creates. We’ve showcased 60 Canadian writers who write from a Christian faith perspective in the two books. The first book became a Canadian bestseller, and the second book is well on its way. Mainstream stores like Chapters/Indigo are willing to stock it and hold book signings. Christian book retailers are becoming more aware of Canadian writers.

Janet: I know from personal experience that you didn’t just take whatever stories people turned in (my first submissions didn’t make the cut). Briefly, what submission criteria helped you choose the best of the best?

NJL: The pieces had to fit our themes, they had to be new (not reprints), they had to have originality and good writing, and the writers had to be willing to make changes and, ultimately, to trust us—or at least be willing to dialogue with us if they disagreed with a change we suggested.

Janet: Many of the final selections came in much rougher form than readers see in the book. The two of you make a formidable and effective editing team. I’ve heard contributors say they wished all their publishers edited like you do. Not only does this give a stronger result, in some cases it’s an investment in the development of new writers.

NJL: Thanks for your comments. Yes, there was a lot of editing. I’d say maybe 10 to 15% of the pieces required only minimal work on our part. Several final pieces actually involved combining two (in one case, three) smaller pieces.  A number were almost completely rewritten or reordered. But we didn’t mind investing our time and energy if we felt the writers were learning, and of course, if we felt the resulting book would be great.

We could have rejected pieces that needed a lot of work, or picked more pieces that were okay but not great, or we could have gone in and made the changes on our own, but we wanted the writers to be involved in every part of the process, so they would understand the many facets of good editing, from concept through substantive, fact-checking, copy-editing, and proof-reading.

WEN: Publishing the two Hot Apple Cider books is being done for higher purposes. N.J. and I both invested much of the past decade in founding and building The Word Guild and directing the Write! Canada writers’ conferences, and working on these books is being done with the same vision, the same passion and philosophy. Our goals are to bring glory to the God we serve, to help readers who need to read these books, to strengthen the Canadian Christian writing and publishing community, to develop members of The Word Guild to become better writers, and to raise the bar of professionalism.

So we were willing to invest vastly more time and energy into the editing process than any other “commercial” publisher would, whether secular or Christian. From a strictly business or financial viewpoint, publishers can no longer afford the intensive editing and mentoring of promising writers that we were willing to do. So the Hot Apple Cider books are unique projects, which the publishers Les and N. J. Lindquist who own That’s Life! Communications were willing to do. 

NJL: As to how we work, I tend to lean more toward the bigger picture things such as concept editing, substantive editing and general flow, while Wendy is much better at seeing inconsistencies, fact checking, grammar, and details in general.

WEN: We both did all the levels of editing, from developmental down to copy editing, on all the pieces. But we each came at the pieces from different viewpoints, experiences and skill sets, so we each would spot different things. It’s a prime example of the teamwork The Word Guild has been trying to exemplify since its inception 10 years ago. And it proves the old adage, two heads are better than one.

NJL: Wendy and I each read and discussed each piece, then we each did first edits on about half. I did the poetry and short stories and some of the non-fiction while Wendy stuck to first edits on non-fiction. Then we switched and each did a second edit of the one the other had done first edit on. Then each piece went to the writer, who could agree or disagree, add or delete as suggested, and so forth. Then we did the process a second time, and then a third time, each time getting more detailed and hopefully having fewer and fewer things to change or correct. This went on until all three of us were satisfied (Wendy, me, and the writer).

WEN: Some pieces went through three “back and forths” with the writer to get to the final version, others went through seven or eight.

Janet: I’m not sure where you found time to write, but you each contributed a piece for the anthology as well. Was it difficult editing one another’s work without that second, impartial editor?

[For NJ’s and Wendy’s answers to this and more, read the rest of the interview.]