Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

I have never been very good at is celebrating successes. I have my dear mother to thank for that, as she wasn’t one to hand out praise easily. This reluctance to celebrate successes and look forward, rather than backward served me well in corporate life where CEOs held the same belief about praise for past successes, no matter how monumental. However, it has never done much for me on a personal level. As I marked the first anniversary of my departure from my job of ten years I felt disheartened. I wondered how would I answer the question, “So what have you accomplished over the past year?”

So this week I decided to take time to reflect on what the Lord enabled me to accomplish in the past year. Here’s the list. I have:

  • Written,  and edited two books.
  • Published the first last Decembe, the second one launches in May.
  • Drafted a third novel, a short story/novella and beginnings of another novel.
  • Submitted an article to Guideposts, a goal I have had for years!
  • Entered the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Contest.
  • Joined one national writers’ organization and two local organizations.
  • Participated in two on-line writing-related courses.
  • Signed up to participate in my first book fair.
  • Been active on social media, specifically FB and Twitter. My website has been live since November and I am gaining subscribers. I have an Amazon author page.
  • Posted 20 blogs on my website – the most popular one was my Blog to My Dog!
  • Read 10 books since January 2016, still on track to make my annual goal of 50.
  • Participated in a training program for a new WELS (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod) Jail Ministry program in Arizona.

The above list was easy to record, but again I wondered if all those activities accomplished what I set out to do: to live and write to serve the Lord. Then I began to focus on those benefits that came about from this year’s work.

  • I had some amazing feedback on how my book actually touched readers. Some through notes and emails, others through the reviews I received on Amazon/Goodreads. All provided me with different perspectives on how the book inspired and encouraged others. Two reviews meant the most to me, one from my father and the other from our family pastor, Reverend Haryln Kuschel.
  • The book allowed me to connect with people in amazing and unexpected ways and provided witnessing opportunities. Some examples:
    • Reestablished relationships with friends I haven’t seen or heard from in ages, some since high school.
    • Formed some wonderful new friendships with authors and readers.
    • Heard from a former boss who read my book, reached out to me and decided to write his own story and include me in his journey.
    • A friend who moved to Africa became so engaged in writing poetry, something she once loved, that she completed her first book and believes the experience totally transformed her life.
    • I discovered a reader whose experience with her child is so similar to mine that we have now formed a friendship and a prayer partnership.
    • The book became a bridge for communication with my first husband for the first time in many years.

 Now I can see that it’s not the work I did, but the Lord working through my efforts to encourage and thankfully, inspire others.  May the Lord continue to bless my efforts going forward that I may never forget: To God alone be the glory.

 

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