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

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

When Your Dreams Feel Unseen

When Your Dreams Feel Unseen at www.annswindell.com

Last year, my daughter and I planted a cantaloupe plant in our front garden right before summer got into full swing. I am the epitome of a black thumb, so it was an act both of faith and of craziness, and I wrote about it in the last chapter of my book, Still Waiting.

That chapter is perhaps my favorite chapter of the entire book, and while it’s about this particular cantaloupe plant, it’s also about the ways in which God cares for us and meets with us even when our prayers seem unanswered. It’s a chapter about faith and looking ahead and trusting that often, what we can’t see is making way for something more beautiful than we could have ever imagined.

I’ve had some readers ask me about the cantaloupe plant that I reference in Still Waiting, and I wanted to give you an update, albeit a year later:

Cantaloupe and God's faithfulness at www.annswindell.com

Cantaloupe and God's faithfulness at www.annswindell.com

Yay! That little cantaloupe plant grew and grew–in fact, the vines overtook the whole of our tiny garden and eclipsed anything else in the plot. And finally, as summer turned into fall, my daughter and I celebrated the growth that God did in that tiny seed by eating the literal fruit of his faithfulness.

So, just a reminder for you today, friend: if it feels like your dreams and hopes are in the ground, unseen…God sees you. He knows your heart and he hears your prayers. There is a day coming when you will see the fruit of your faith. I don’t know when that is; only the Lord does! But he is faithful and there will be a day of reaping the spiritual harvest you have prayed for.

If it feels like your dreams and hopes are in the ground, unseen...God sees you. He knows your heart and hears your… Click To Tweet

If you haven’t read Still Waiting yet, can I encourage you to pick up a copy? No matter what season of life you’re in, my prayer is that this book will strengthen you in your own walk with the Lord and remind you that you’re never alone. 

 

Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

 

The Summer the Roof Blew Off My House

Home has always been a central theme in my life, and today
I’m honored to be sharing about home over at Jen Michel’s wonderful blog.
Join me there!

To be human is to long for home. www.annswindell.com guest posting for Jen Pollock Michel

The summer the roof blew off my house also happened to be the summer I was away, studying abroad in England during college. All of it was an enormous surprise; there was no plan for a microburst to heave the roof off in July. When I left in June there was no warning about what was coming.

That house—the one that lost its roof—has been in my family for four generations. My great-grandfather was an architect; he designed the home. My grandfather laid the bricks, my father moved in at the age of four in 1954, and I was brought home thirty years later. The maple trees, just saplings when my father moved into the house, now tower twenty feet high.

I always knew those trees as tall. I slept in the bedroom that my father slept in as a boy, ate in the same kitchen, played basketball in the same backyard. Every story that belonged to the house also belonged to my family; the people and the place, wedded.

Into the house itself, my great-grandfather cemented a reminder of the family sentiment. He set odd-colored stones in the brick fireplace, uneven and small, jutting out in unlikely places.  Their colors do not match. These stones are from his travels to the Pyramids, the Coliseum, the Acropolis. He brought them back from those places to mortar them into the hearth, a reminder that though you travel far, you always, always circle back to where you started.

We are homebodies, embodied in a home that helps us know ourselves. Generations stay, or they come back.

I heard about the roof blowing off my house when I was in Oxford. My mother called from across the Atlantic with the news…

Read the rest of the story here, at Jen’s blog!

The Purpose and Power of Lent

The Power and Purpose of Lent www.annswindell.com

This post is adapted from a piece I wrote originally for RELEVANT Magazine and posted last year.
Click here to read the original article. 

In church tradition, Lent is the season preceding Easter, and it is often set aside as a time of remembrance and repentance. It is a season of preparation, a time of waiting and reflecting.

But is Lent important? Is it worth observing—or at least acknowledging—especially if, like me, you’re not currently part of a liturgical church tradition?

Even after years of not being in a church that intentionally observes Lent, I still think so. Here are some reasons why Lent matters—and how it can point us to the truth of the Gospel in practical, important ways:

Lent Reminds Us That We Need to Repent

Repentance is not an easy pill to swallow; repentance is a call to turn around and away from our sinful ways. First, it means acknowledging that we are sinners, and second, it means saying no to our sin. But repentance is at the very heart of Christianity: we cannot, in fact, follow Jesus without repenting of our way and choosing His way instead (Acts 2:38).

Lent is a season of acknowledging our consistent, daily need to repent. Click To Tweet

Lent is a season of acknowledging our consistent, daily need to repent—and therefore, of our consistent need for a savior. It’s important to remember how desperately we need to be saved from our sin, and that Jesus is the only hope we have to be saved; that reality grounds us in His kindness and goodness.

 Lent Helps Us Pare Down Our Excesses

Historically, Christians have understood Lent as a time when unneeded things are stripped away in order to remind us of our neediness before and for God. Christians still do this today, giving up meat or chocolate, or abstaining from alcohol or watching television.

By taking away things that divert our attention and feed our desires, the season of Lent invites us to attend to what is really happening on the inside of our souls—and to have our needs met by God first and only.

Lent invites us to attend to what is really happening on the inside of our souls. Click To Tweet

Lent Points Us to Our Humanity

In college, I was part of a liturgical church in college, and I attended my first Ash Wednesday service. There, I was marked with a cross in ash while hearing the words, “From dust you came, and to dust you will return.”

It felt like someone had sucked all of the air out of the room; suddenly, I was faced with my own death. As a college student, I rarely thought about my own finiteness, my own frailty. But that declaration over me—that I started from dust and will return to dust—deeply humbled me, in the best of ways.

Lent pointed me back to the truth that all of my value and all of my purpose comes from being a person made in the image of the God who created me and made the way for me to be saved. Apart from Him, I am dust; I am nothing and I have nothing. But because of His great love, my life is worth much more than dust.

Lent Sobers Us—in Order to Prepare Us for Celebration

Lent is a season of reflection—even of mourning—and that attitude flies in the face of the cultural waters most of us swim in. Sobering ourselves by confronting our own brokenness—by pausing our desire to keep things light and easy—is necessary if we want to celebrate the miraculous and life-altering message of Easter.

If we aren’t aware of our sinfulness and need, we won’t be able to comprehend the desperation of Good Friday or the world-changing truth of the Resurrection. Sobering our hearts and minds in preparation for Easter enables us to celebrate more deeply and joyfully, perhaps, than we would have without the solemnness of the season.

Because knowing our true nature, knowing our need for Jesus—this makes Easter the best and most necessary Good News we could ever hear.

Writing with Grace course www.writingwithgrace.com

Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

17 Ways You Can Pray for Your Husband

17 Ways to Pray for Your Husband in 2017 at www.annswindell.comI had the honor of getting to write for Way-FM recently about one of the topics I love the most: marriage! The start of the article is below; you can read it in its entirety here!

As wives, perhaps one of the most important things we have the opportunity to do in 2017 is to pray for our husband. No one knows him as closely as you do, and this offers a unique chance to come before the Lord and ask him to guide and protect your husband in a powerful way.

Still, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start or how to focus our prayers, and so, below, you’ll find 17 ways to pray for your husband this year. You can pray through the whole list at once, or pray for specific aspects on different days of the week or month. Even if your husband does not yet know the Lord, you can pray these prayers for him, trusting that the Lord hears you and he loves your husband even more than you do.

1. Pray for your husband’s relationship with Christ.

No other relationship in your husband’s life is as important as his relationship with God—not even his relationship with you! The good news is that as your husband grows in closeness with the Lord, his love for Christ will start to spill over into every other relationship in his life, including his marriage. So, pray that your husband will be motivated and excited to spend time with the Lord, praying and reading the Bible.

2. Pray that the Lord will give your husband godly friends.

We become like the people we spend time with, and so your husband’s friends have a huge influence on his life. Ask God to give your husband close friends who are also pursuing Christ, and that they would “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).

3. Pray for favor on your husband’s life.

Your husband has already received favor in having you as his wife, for “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22)! Now, pray that God will increase your husband’s favor with bosses, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances!

4. Pray that your husband will thrive in his job.

Few things matter more to a man than knowing he is making significant contributions in his work. Pray that God will give your husband joy in his work and breakthrough in any difficult situations at his place of employment.

Read the rest of the article here, at WAY-FM!

Looking for more marriage encouragement? 
Read 10 Ways to Grow Spiritually with your Spouse!
Read Cultivating a Joy-Filled Relationship with your Spouse.
Still Waiting by Ann Swindell