Transformed by the Bible

This is my newest piece for incourage.
You can read the whole article here!

How Reading the Bible Will Transform You www.annswindell.com

I was twenty years old, fresh into my junior year at my Christian college, when Dr. Dorsett — an aging professor with a shock of white hair and thick spectacles — startled me into paying attention.

He held a Bible above his head and asked us, “How can you call yourself a Christian if you haven’t read every page of this book? If you don’t even know what’s in here?” His tone was kind, but his words were piercing. He was asking us to own our faith.

His words dumbfounded me.

I had grown up in the church, and had read parts of the Bible during my growing-up years. But here, as a young woman, I realized that I hadn’t ever read the Bible cover-to-cover. I’d read bits here and chapters there, but I hadn’t read much of the Old Testament, and I’d never read all of the New. It dawned on me, there in that class, that I was basing my life on a book that I hadn’t fully read — and suddenly, that admission stunned me. Who bases their life on a book but doesn’t read all of it? Did I even know what I believed?

Who bases their life on a book but doesn’t read all of it? Did I even know what I believed? Click To Tweet

And so, that very week, I started a one-year Bible-reading plan and began my journey into reading the Bible all the way through.

At first, reading several chapters a day felt overwhelming — going from reading a few verses here and there to actually reading whole chunks of the Word felt like going from talking a walk around the block to training for a marathon. My spiritual muscles were weak, and it was difficult on many days to keep my mind and heart engaged. Don’t even get me started on the book of Numbers; it’s a miracle I kept going!

But what I found, as I kept my nose in the folds of those crinkly, thin pages of my Bible, was that I was meeting God—actually meeting with Him! I wasn’t solely reading about Him or learning about Him: I was encountering the Lord on every page.

You can read the rest of the article here, at incourage!

Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

Do You Have a Book Inside of You?

The Writing with Grace: Book Proposal Workshop is open! I couldn’t be more excited!

Ann Swindell, author and speaker www.annswindell.com

Do you have a book inside of you? 
Do you have a plan to make that book a reality?
To move from ideas and drafts to chapters and cover design?

If you’re writing a book, or if you want to write a book, crafting a powerful book proposal is possibly the BEST tool for clarifying your core message, solidifying your structure, and moving forward to make your book a reality.

But where do you start?

Book proposals are huge undertakings. After having written four proposals, I know how intensive–and confusing–the process can feel. I remember trying to shuffle through multiple resources, and I kept hoping that I was doing things the right way. It became overwhelming at times, but I knew that if I didn’t have a strong book proposal, my book idea would never actually become a reality. The proposal is necessary–and central to the process of writing a book.

Do you have a book inside of you? Don't miss this! #amwriting Click To Tweet

That’s why I’m teaching a Writing with Grace Book Proposal Workshop at the end of this month! This will be a one-day, three-hour workshop in which we’ll cover the nonnegotiable elements of a powerful proposal AND how to execute those elements. Plus, we will hear from a literary agent in the Christian publishing industry.

If you’re aiming to write a book, you must write a book proposal, and this workshop is going to give you the tools that you need to make your proposal shine!

Registration is open now, and you can use the code BLOGREADER to save 10% on the cost of the course!

We’re going to have a wonderful time together on July 29th, and if you can’t come live, don’t worry–the recording will be available immediately afterwards for you to watch on your own time.

So, do you have a book inside of you? 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!

Do you have a book inside of you? www.writingwithgrace.com

The 2016 Writer’s Gift Guide

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I’m starting to see “gift guides” pop up online, and I wanted to join in the fun! I offered a Writer’s Gift Guide in 2015, and it was really well received–I think almost all of us know people in our lives who love to write (or we are the ones who love to write!), and this is an easy post to share with others (wink!). Here are my top 10 gifts to give the writers in your life this year!

The 2016 Writers Gift Guide is live--perfect for the writer in your life, especially if that writer is you!… Click To Tweet
  1. How else could I possibly start? A book. Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies is one of my all-time favorite books for fellow writers, both for its meticulous prose and also for McEntyre’s vision for language. She is calling us to use words as people of faith and love–and the outcome of that calling is deeply meaningful. A powerful text for any word-lover in your life!Caring for Words in the Writers Gift Guide 2016 at www.annswindell.com
  2. A beautiful journal set. I love this one from Dayspring–it reminds me that words travel so much farther than I can, and includes a journal, pencil pouch, and set of postcards ready for sending! Get this for the word-lover in your life who you wish you could hug more often! And use the code: SHINEHISLIGHT to save $20 off of a $60 purchase + get free shipping! Yay!
  3. Journal set from DayspringA planner. Writers need clarity when it comes to scheduling their days and setting aside intentional time to write. The planner that I use is from Anchored Press, and I even had the privilege of contributing to their weekly planner this year. These planners are GORGEOUS, practical, and filled with the truth of Scripture–just what we all need to keep us on track!
    Anchored Press Weekly Planner. Writing Gift Guide at annswindell.com
  4. Personalized Writing Coaching. Oftentimes, writers have ideas and dreams and projects that they want to work on, but they don’t know how to strengthen and sharpen their writing–or what the next best step is to take in their calling as a writer. Through Writing with Grace, I offer individualized coaching for writers, and am now setting up calls starting in January. If you want to invest in your own calling as a writer–or if you want to show the writer in your life how deeply you believe in them, this would be the gift that keeps on giving! My coaching clients walk away with practical steps to take in their writing career, along with encouragement and vision for moving forward. Email WritingwithGraceCourse@gmail.com if you’re interested in setting this up and we can chat. I even have a gift card that you can give to your recipient so they have something to open on Christmas day!Writing with Grace Coaching. Email WritingwithGraceCourse@gmail.com

     

  5. A Goal-setting system, like Powersheets from the Cultivate What Matters Shop. I’ve written about these before, but most writers have a hard time juggling both their writing dreams and their everyday commitments; what happens is that usually the writing goes by the wayside. Powersheets have helped me to set priorities in my life around my calling and my gifts, all while keeping the Lord at the center. I am a huge fan of Powersheets and already pre-ordered my set for 2017!
    PowerSheets by Lara Casey
  6. A book pillow! I’m a sucker for quirky pillows, and being surrounded by books is always delightful, whether it’s a stack of books on my desk or a delightful throw pillow that represents books on my couch. This is a fun pick–clean, bright, and just cheeky enough to make even a curmudgeon smile!Book Pillow at the Writers Gift Guide 2016 from annswindell.com
  7. Business cards. Sometimes writers need the validation of owning the truth that they ARE writers; it can be hard to say that you’re a writer if it’s never out in the open with others. Consider buying your favorite writer a pack of business cards as a way of encouraging her in her dream of writing–and make it stylish while you’re at it! I love these from Moo, which is where I purchase my business cards; the quality is extremely high. Click here and then search for “writer” in the upper right-hand corder to bring up a fun array of business cards related to writing!Writer business cards in the Writers Gift Guide 2016 at www.annswindell.com

     

  8. A meaningful magazine subscription. The best writers are thoughtful readers, and one of my all-time favorite publications is Deeply Rooted Magazine. This is a beautiful, theologically rich publication that is deeply encouraging and aesthetically stunning, all at the same time. I’ve written for them for years (and hope to do so forever)! Order the writer in your life a yearly subscription and keep the gift going for the next twelve months!Deeply Rooted Magazine Subscription in the Writers Gift Guide 2016 at annswindell.com

     

  9. A nice pen. Yes, most of us do our writing on screens nowadays, but there’s nothing like writing with a smooth pen on fresh paper. If you’re already getting the writer in your life a journal set (see #2), something like this would be a great stocking stuffer!Fringe Pen for the 2016 Writer Gift Guide at www.annswindell.com
  10. One more book. I couldn’t help myself–if you’re looking to encourage the writer in your life with spiritual truth (from a fellow writer!), you can pre-order my book, Still Waiting. It comes out April 4th, and I’ve been praying for the readers of this book for over a year. You can read more about the book here, but I think this is a great gift for the writer–and reader–in your life. I’ve poured my heart into it, and my prayer is that this book will be an encouragement to each and every person who reads it.

Still Waiting: Hope for When God Doesn't Give You What You Want www.annswindell.com

Well, there you have it: these are my top 10 gifts for the writer in your life–even if that writer is yourself! What else would you add to this list? Is there anything you can’t live without in your writing life? Share what you love with me!

May this holiday season be full of transformative words, conversations, and gifts that lead us to truth and beauty in Christ!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links,
all for products that I love and believe in–and use–myself!

The 2016 Writer's Gift Guide at annswindell.com

Come and Write Your Story

Come and Write Your Story at www.annswindell.com

This is the start of my newest article for The Gospel Coalition.
You can read the article in its entirety here!

I’m not gifted at comprehending my own spiritual growth while still in the midst of it. I don’t typically live through trials and victories with my antennae attuned to how God’s transforming me. I wish it were otherwise; I wish I had the ability to see my immediate experiences through the lens of spiritual development. But most of the time I’m just doing my best to love God and my family—and make it through the day intact. I’m not necessarily looking for the big themes or revelations the Lord is weaving into my life in the moment.

But I know God has numbered the days of my life (Ps. 139:16) and that he’s working out all things for my good as he conforms me to the image of his Son (Rom. 8:28–29). I don’t want to miss these things; I want to be able to point to how God’s transforming me “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor. 3:18) as I walk with him.

I turn to two things in order to help me understand my spiritual growth: my Bible and my pen. via… Click To Tweet

So I turn to two things in order to help me understand my spiritual growth: my Bible and my pen. Reading the Word and writing my story—these are how I’ve learned to experience my life as a purposeful whole, even when the days feel splintered and confusing.

Read the rest of the article here–and let me know how you understand your spiritual growth over at TGC!

And, if you’re interested in writing your story, make sure to check out the Writing with Grace: Memoir class that I’m teaching this fall. Registration is only open until October 11th, so don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to write your story powerfully and hear from industry experts! See you there!

Yes, the World Needs Your Story

The World Needs Your Story www.annswindell.comThis is the start of my newest piece for Darling Magazine.
You can read the whole article here!

For those of us who find ourselves drawn to the written word, the pull toward pen and paper is more than just a hobby. It’s a lifeline. Many of us flourish when there are words flowing from our soul onto the page — we’re able to make sense of things better when we’re writing, and we think our thoughts most clearly when we write them down on paper.

For those of us drawn to the written word, writing is more than a hobby--it's a lifeline. #amwriting Click To Tweet

As unique as the personal writing experience is for each of us, research is starting to reveal a universal reality that many of us have inherently known for a long time: writing about our lives is healing. Several studies point to the fact that when we honestly write about our own lives, working through our questions and challenges on the page, we can experience emotional breakthrough. That’s because when we take time to write about what’s bothering us, the act of writing enables us to see our lives in a new way and release past burdens. Writing can help us reframe our experiences and see ourselves as active participants in our lives, rather than as victims or observers.

Additional research has found that people who take time to intentionally write about their emotional state “were able to create the distance between the thinker and the thought, the feeler and the feeling, that allowed them to gain a new perspective, unhook, and move forward.” When we write about what’s happening internally, it enables us to parse experience from emotion — and then decide how to change.

Writing is a powerful tool.

If you’ve never taken the time to write your story down, maybe this is the nudge that you need. While writing about our journey and the emotions that we’ve experienced may feel initially overwhelming, the work that it can do in our hearts and our minds might actually change the course of our lives. It can help us to really see how we’ve been living and what it might look like to flip the script in our current story.

Read the rest of the article here, at Darling Magazine!

And if you want to write your story, check out my online writing course, Writing with Grace: Memoir. Registration is open until October 6th, and I’m offering a discount to blog readers: save 10% with the code: MEMOIR10. I can’t wait to join you there!

Image via Maddie Greer

Three Ways Counseling is a Gift You Give Yourself

As someone who has benefited immensely from Christian counseling, I was thankful to get to write a piece about the gifts counseling offers us for
Darling Magazine

3 Ways Counselingis a GiftYou Gift Yourself (1)

We’re still settling into the rhythms of life in our new city, and last week we had dinner with a family that we’re trying to build a relationship with; we go to church with them and our kids are about the same age, so it’s an easy connect.

As our kids ran around one another, I talked with Lesley about life in the last year and a half — all of the transitions that have taken place as we’ve moved cities, changed jobs, and essentially started over in our adult lives. I mentioned that professional counseling has been a game-changer for me in the last season of life, and Lesley paused to ask me more. She had recently been considering counseling but wasn’t sure if she should pursue it, or if it would be a good fit for her. Here’s what I shared with Lesley that night — the three ways that counseling was one of the best gifts I’ve ever given myself:

1. Counseling helps us to walk the journey of health and wholeness intentionally.

Most of us long to live in healthy, empowering ways in our daily lives; we want to respond to ourselves and others with kindness, and we want to live from a place of love rather than fear. But there are very few practical ways to determine if we are actually growing in wholeness and personal wellbeing. There’s not a to-do list that we can check off at the end of every day. Rather, the journey to healing and health is one that will take a lifetime of intentionality. Committing to counseling sets at least one clear step before us on the path to wholeness, and it offers us tools for not only coping with, but thriving in our daily lives.

The journey to healing and health is one that will take a lifetime of intentionality. Click To Tweet

2. Counseling helps us to own our brokenness and our glory.

A good counselor — one who is seeking to help us rather than trying to appease us — is a person who will speak truth. And when that truth is about our brokenness and the ways we have failed, it can be hard to hear. But it is necessary for us to come to terms with the brokenness that we carry so that we can better understand how we respond when confronted with pain and anger and fear. We need to hear the hard truth so that we can forgive and change and grow. And the good news is that as we better understand our brokenness, we can better understand our glory, too. For we are not solely broken; we are those who are choosing to try again, to ask for forgiveness again, to show up again. We have more strength than we know, and more resilience than we might have imagined. These are gifts that a good counselor helps us to see in ourselves.

We have more strength than we know, and more resilience than we might have imagined. Click To Tweet

Read the rest of the article here, at Darling Magazine!