Do you have a book inside of you?

Do you have a book inside of you? 
Or do you have an article you want to get published?
How about a blog that you want to write for and grow?
Or maybe you love to write and want to get better at your passion?

But where do you start? 

How do you go from having writing dreams to making them a reality?
How do you move from wanting to be a writer to fully owning your calling as a writer?

I know how: you have to take the risk to invest in yourself and your desire to write. I did this when I decided to pursue my MFA in Creative Writing nearly a decade ago–and I gave years of my life to studying the craft of writing and immersing myself in the world of literature and critical feedback.

Your writing dreams matter because your story matters. WritingwithGrace.com
But most of us can’t drop everything and give years of our lives to solely focusing on writing, and that’s why I started Writing with Grace back in 2015. I knew that there were writers who wanted to grow and pursue their calling as Christ-centered word-wielders, but they didn’t have the time or finances to go back to school.

So, after teaching college-level writing courses for half a decade, I decided to offer the best of that material in an online format. I teach the classes live, and you can re-watch them later when you have time. This is the cream of what I taught in 300 and 400 level writing courses, distilled into a six-week course and offered at a fraction of the cost of traditional university education.

I want you to have access to the best writing instruction in a format that works with your current life.

Registration is open now, and you can use the code GRACE to save 10% on the cost of the course. We’re going to have an amazing time together starting at the end of this month, and I want YOU to be there with us.

So, do you have a book inside of you? An article (or ten?) A writing dream?
If you do, this is your next step.

Come join me over at Writing with Grace for all the details–I can’t wait to see you there!

Registration is open now at Writing with Grace! www.writingwithgrace.com

Creating Friendships that Last

In a world bloated with quick fixes, instant gratification and social media profiles, it can be hard to know how to build—and keep—lasting friendships. And while we may want to portray a particular side of ourselves online, the truth is that we need friends who know us here and now, in the middle of our mess and our daily routines. And we need to be those types of friends, too.

Creating Friendships that Last from annswindell.com

The secret to these kinds of friendships is actually pretty simple: You just have to show up.

The secret to friendship is actually pretty simple: You just have to show up. via @RELEVANT Click To Tweet

The Scriptures calls us to draw near to Christ and to draw near to one another: “let us draw near [to Christ] with a true heart in full assurance of faith,” and “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:22, 24-25). As people of faith, we are called to live so that we are encouraging those around us toward love and good deeds. I think this comes most obviously and importantly through deep, meaningful friendship.

Here’s how to start—and build—friendships where we spur one another on to godly lives and where we reflect God’s love to one another:

SHOW UP WITH A MEAL.

A friend doesn’t have to be sick to need a meal. A new baby doesn’t have to be born, and it doesn’t have to be a holiday. Many times, we need a friend to care for us—spiritually and practically—in the midst of our everyday lives when things just feel like a little too much to handle. I’ve taken meals to friends who are emotionally overwhelmed, to friends who have sick kids and to friends who just need a break from adulting. If you don’t cook: Take a pizza. Breaking bread together—sharing meals—is something that marked the early church, and it’s not hard to understand why. Sharing a meal together feeds both the body and the soul. It’s not hard—it just takes intentionality.

SHOW UP WITH PRAYER.

Hanging out and talking, watching a game together, laughing together—these are good gifts of friendship. But being friends who follow Jesus also offers us the rich opportunity to pray not only for but with one another. I’ve found that my times of prayer with friends have been some of the deepest and most steadying parts of our friendship.

Can it be awkward, especially if you’ve never prayed together? Sure. But it can also crack open the opportunity for deeper relationship and trust. Maybe you can’t help your friend practically, with her need or with his struggle. But you can pray with your friend, right there, asking God to meet that need and provide grace in the struggle. If you don’t know what to pray, consider getting a copy of The Book of Common Prayer and praying a liturgical prayer together. It doesn’t have to be fancy. But when two or three of us get together in the name of Jesus, He’s there with us (Matthew 18:19-20). When we pray, He hears us, and moves on our behalf.

The One Resolution that Changes Everything

I’m not the type of person who is usually motivated by goals, and New Year’s resolutions tend to fall under this category for me. But there is one type of resolution I made a decade a ago that has utterly transformed my life. 

I aim to spend time with Jesus every single day.

Of course, there are days when life gets a little too wild and I don’t manage to set time aside for the Lord, but by and large, I spend time with him every day of the week, every week of the year. I don’t say this because I’m fantastic; I say this because I’m a broken and sinful person, desperately in need of the healing and love of Christ every single day. It’s spiritual life and death for me; spending time with Jesus is the only thing that keeps me hopeful, kind, and loving—because he is hopeful, kind, and loving. When I spend time with him, I become more like him, and that is what I need most of all.

The One Resolution That Changes Everything at www.annswindell.com

When it comes to getting time reading the Word, praying, and journaling, I’m committed to spending daily time with Jesus because I’ve discovered that more than time and money, more than romance and entertainment, more than fame and Facebook, Jesus is worth everything. Absolutely everything. He holds time in his hands and he, himself, is everything of value. He is the deepest love and the richest reward. He is the only famous one and the friend of all. He is the prize. He is the treasure. He is the King.

When I spend time with him, I become more like him, and that is what I need most of all. Click To Tweet

And I have been given the gift of not only being saved from my sin but also of being healed from the inside out by his love and mercy and grace. Spending time with him is a deep privilege. Knowing him is an opportunity greater than any offered on this earth.

It’s worth it, to me, to spend daily time with Jesus, because at the end of all days, Jesus is all that I will have. I want to live my time here on earth knowing him, learning his heart, staying captivated by his goodness and his truth. I don’t want to be surprised when I finally meet him face-to-face. I want to know this Savior I follow as much as I can here on earth.

Spending time with the Lord doesn’t have to look any particular way; for me, it involves reading the Bible, journaling my prayers, and often, singing songs of praise to him. But there are many ways to spend time with Jesus, and you may need to mix up your normal routine if you find your attention waning or your heart growing hard. Consider going on prayer walks to keep your mind and body focused, or think about pulling out your notepad and writing poetry to the Lord as a form of worship. Listen to the Bible on audio as a new way to engage with Scripture. You can paint for the Lord, dance for him, even bake—pray as you measure and pour! The aim is to keep our hearts centered on the goodness and nearness of Christ, and to immerse our minds in his Truth.

It’s worth it to spend daily time with Jesus, because at the end of all days, Jesus is all we will… Click To Tweet

So as 2018 whispers in like a song yet to be sung, let’s turn our time and our hearts, again, to Jesus. He is so worthy, friends. And completely available to meet with us every day of the year.

This piece was originally published at Deeply Rooted.

Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

Staying Close to God During the Busy Holiday Season

5 Ways to Stay Close to God During the Busy Holiday Season at www.annswindell.com

This is my newest piece for RELEVANT Magazine.
You can read the whole article here.

Life doesn’t ever stop, especially during the busy holiday season full of to-do lists, parties, shopping and (hopefully!) worship and service opportunities. So how can we focus our hearts in a deeper way on the presence of God in our lives, especially during a time of year filled with increased opportunities and responsibilities? How can we stay close to God when everything around us is demanding our attention?

Here are some simple steps that I’ve found are helpful to stay close to Jesus during the holiday season.

Start with Scripture.

It sounds simple, but it can also be very hard to read the Word regularly. Still, I have found that when I start my day in the Bible, my heart and mind are better prepared to respond to God’s presence throughout the rest of the day. It’s like tying up my shoelaces before going out the door—it’s much easier to keep from slipping as I walk through the day.

During the holiday season, when time seems short, get creative about reading the Bible if you’re struggling to do so. Listen to the audio version of the Bible on your phone or in the car. Or read for five minutes before you get out of bed (or even touch your phone!) in the morning. You might even consider starting a special Advent devotional to help you focus on God during this time of year.

5 Simple Ways to stay close to God during the busy holiday season via @RELEVANT Click To Tweet

Make time to serve.

Too often, the holidays can cause us to focus on ourselves—what we want, what we wish we had and how much we have to do. But when we take time to serve others through our church and community, we are fulfilling a central call of the Gospel (1 Peter 4:10, Galatians 5:13).

Who in your church community needs some attention and love, especially this time of year? While it can be wonderful to participate in official service opportunities, sometimes the most meaningful chances to serve come by loving the people right in front of us with our time, our energy and our attention. Pray and ask the Lord who you can serve this holiday season, and then set aside time to do so.

Sometimes the most meaningful chances to serve come by loving the people right in front of us. Click To Tweet

Listen to truth.

In our home and car, I play music that reminds me of God’s presence in my life. Music seeps into my mind more easily (and mindlessly) than most things, so if I find myself humming a tune unintentionally, it helps my soul if it’s a song that reminds me of who God is. If Christmas music is your style, there are wonderful stations and streams to listen to that are full of Christ-centered Christmas music. And if you don’t love listening to music, find a podcast, radio station or audio book that declares the truth of who God is and turn it on while you’re doing mindless tasks around the house or even working out!

Read the rest of the article here, at RELEVANT!

 

Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

How to Balance Motherhood and Writing

I’ve been a professional writer for the last decade, and for the last half of that decade, I’ve also been a mom. I deeply love being a writer, and I deeply love being a mom…but the two passions don’t always line up smoothly. Writing requires a certain amount of focus and quiet and time–three things that are often difficult (if not impossible!) to find as a mom. Kids don’t seem to appreciate the fine art of offering their parents uninterrupted blocks of quiet, focused time…

Still, I don’t think that writing and motherhood are mutually exclusive. In fact, I’ve found that the two can jive really well together–with some creativity and help. Over the years, I’ve talked with so many fellow moms who are struggling with how to stay connected to their passion as a writer while simultaneously holding down the fort at home (and also sometimes at work). And that’s why I’ve created The Writing Mom Course.

How to Balance Writing and Motherhood at The Writing Mom. www.thewritingmomcourse.com

This course covers the big questions and practical insights that women are looking for as they pursue writing in the season of motherhood, and I am SO EXCITED about it. We talk about issues of time, balance, writing voice, platform, and others–the list goes on! I’ve poured what I’ve learned as a writing mom into these six classes and worksheets, and I’d love for you to visit the new site, watch the video, and learn about how I want to encourage and equip you on your writing journey!

Also, this week only, I’ve knocked the price down to $39.95…which is cheaper than a family of four going out to eat! I’m hopeful that this can be a resource for you as you pursue your passion of writing as a mom!

Join me here, at The Writing Mom!

The Writing Mom Course at www.thewritingmomcourse.com

Stewarding Your Passions in the Season of Motherhood

How to Steward Your Passions in the Season of of Motherhood at annswindell.com

This is the start of my newest piece for The Gospel Coalition. You can read the whole piece here!

I love to write; it’s one of the ways I feel most connected to God. Before my daughter was born, I wrote for several publications. But when she came into the world, my writing life was put on an abrupt hold. I often wondered: Do I have to wait until my children are grown to return to my passions?

As Christian mothers, this question bubbles up often: How do we navigate the years of childrearing with our own desires to create and innovate and learn?

While there’s no one response for every woman, it’s important to ask the right questions as we consider how to steward our passions and live faithfully in our current season. Here are four such questions.

1. In pursuing this passion, do I have the support of my family and church family?

When Hunter Beless was still nursing her second daughter, she considered starting a podcast for women, but she hesitated. “I thought motherhood wasn’t the season to explore my own passions and desires, and I feared not having enough time or energy to do something outside of caring for my husband and children,” she recalls.

Still, she couldn’t shake the feeling that this was something she should pursue. “I prayerfully submitted both the dreaming and planning process to the Lord. After developing my ideas, I began to seek counsel from my husband, mentors, and friends. Things continued to align as I moved forward, which led me to ask, ‘Why not?’ At worst, it offered an opportunity to experiment, play, and create while my kids were sleeping, and at best it had the potential to encourage other women to glorify God.”

With the support of those around her, Hunter started the Journeywomen Podcast, which is growing rapidly and blessing women across the country and world. But it began with submitting her ideas to the Lord and her community, trusting him to guide her in the right direction.

2. What’s the ultimate end of pursuing this passion?

There are countless ways to pursue our passions, but we must always reckon with the centrality of the gospel. Is Christ at the center of this pursuit? Is the good news at the core of why I’m doing this? Whether you work a secular job, volunteer at a nonprofit, join a neighborhood committee, play in a tennis league, or serve in your church, it’s helpful to consider how this pursuit will give you opportunities to live out the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18–20).

Dianne Jago started the magazine Deeply Rooted because she sensed a need for something other than what she was seeing in “popular Christian women’s ministry, which unfortunately included a lot of misuse and misunderstanding in the interpretation and application of the Scriptures.” She desired to see Christ exalted in media and to point other women to a right handling of the Word. Jago’s passion is anchored in the gospel, and it has borne beautiful fruit in her life and in the lives of readers.

Read the rest of the article here, at The Gospel Coalition!

Still Waiting by Ann Swindell