Faith on the Edge of a Cliff – Thoughts of a Wyoming Catholic College Student – Episode 3

Last month in my blog series on my journey to Wyoming Catholic College, I explained the purpose and benefit of a Great Books curriculum. This month, I offer a reflection on WCC’s outdoor program—one of the school’s most distinctive and essential elements.

Image courtesy of Wyoming Catholic College

Image courtesy of Wyoming Catholic College

Three years ago my family took a vacation to Yellowstone Park. That was one my first times out West, and the first time I’d been to Wyoming. During the road trip and our hikes through the park, I found myself stunned by the beauty of the land—a pristine, craggy, wild kind of beauty, totally new to my Chicago-suburb eyes. In short, I fell in love. On our last day in Yellowstone, this is what I wrote in my journal:

“Once God’s finger touched this land, and the earth still sings and trembles with that glory. It sings of open grass, of tumbled rocks and sagebrush, in thin gold-green tones as high as wind. It sings of rivers, lazy and brilliant among the meadows, rushing and deep foam-flecked green between the cliffs, in strains strong and ever-flowing. It sings of pines and pine-shadows with somber, tall, fragrant, mysterious notes. And last but reaching above all else is the song of the mountains—keen, stirring, cragged and snow-capped, draped in the pines and calling…calling in their great deep voices, stern and irresistible as distant bells. Tolling out a fell and beautiful song…this, this, this is the voice of the land. It is a song you must hear with all your being. So hear the song, and sing back a hymn, to complete the harmony of Creation, and its Supreme God.”

Little did I suspect that I would be returning to Wyoming for four years of college!

The mountains and rivers are an integral part of the curriculum at Wyoming Catholic College, just as much as the Great Books. Nature is “God’s First Book,” from which students learn the lessons of wonder, humility, and leadership. In fact, the freshman orientation is a 21-day backpacking trip in the Rocky Mountains.

Yes, it’s required. And yes, I am nervous. But more than that, I am looking forward to the challenge and the beauty and the experience. For I already know how well it works. Last year I attended a two-week summer program at the college, which included a weekend backpacking trip.

First of all, there’s nothing that tastes as good as a meal you’ve cooked yourself after hiking three or four (or more) miles on a rough mountain trail. And there aren’t many things cooler than standing around a bonfire under a starry summer sky in the middle of nowhere, singing folk songs and Gregorian chant with your friends.

To be serious, though, I had profound experiences of both wonder and humility during that summer camp. I found myself inspired, challenged, and changed—broken open, thrust into new horizons, discovering weaknesses I’d hidden and growing in new strengths. And that was just two weeks. Now I get to spend four years steeping myself in this life-changing beauty.

If I tried to list all the encounters with wonder I had during those weeks, this would be a very long blog post. Fortunately, I do have a favorite experience to share. One of the college chaplains came out with us on the weekend backpacking trip to celebrate Mass. Sunday morning found the forty of us kneeling on a massive rock which rose above the pines and the sagebrush, while the priest celebrated the liturgy from a boulder-turned-altar. The rock scraped my knees and the July sun glared in my eyes, but I felt more focused than I had during any of the Masses I’d attended in church that week. This rock was God’s altar, this brilliant sky His cathedral. I was saturated in delight and wonder.

My experiences of humility were not always as pleasant as my encounters with wonder, but they were equally valuable. I’m an introvert-perfectionist, so I hate acting stupid or admitting my flaws. But the wilderness exposes spiritual weaknesses just as it challenges physical ones. I will never forget the day my group went rappelling in Sinks Canyon. After teaching us the technique for traditional rappelling (climbing down a cliff backwards in a rope and harness), our instructors offered us the chance to try it “Australian style” (a.k.a., “defying every single human instinct relating to the law of gravity”).

Me (in orange) beginning to freak out! Photo by Grace Pfeifer.

Me (in orange) beginning to freak out! Photo by Grace Pfeifer.

I was either feeling very brave or very overconfident. I found myself walking down a cliff headfirst, with the harness pressing into my stomach so that I could barely breathe. More than once I panicked, slipped, and fell dangling against the cliff face. Only with the firm guidance of my ground team did I finally reach the bottom. I was exhausted, bruised, and rawly humiliated. But I was also extremely grateful for my ground team. I realized that if I relaxed and trusted my teachers and teammates, I could not only live through a terrifying experience like Australian rappelling, but I could also grow from it.

I have yet to learn leadership from WCC’s outdoor trips, but I will soon. At some point during the three weeks of the freshman orientation, I will be in charge of my group for at least one day—planning the route and making the decisions. The rest of the time, I’ll have to be a cooperative and active follower—which, for an introvert-perfectionist, may not always be easy, either!

The purpose of WCC’s freshman orientation, to my mind, is a sort of a baptism by fire. Right from the start, the students are challenged, thrust beyond their comfort zone, and taught the importance of virtue in a real-life situation. The lessons of wonder, humility, and leadership I’ll learn won’t be confined to the outdoors—I’ll bring them back to the classroom, my relationships, and my whole life.

I’ll see you in God’s country.

 

Posted in Beauty, Catholic Theme, Catholic Writing and Publishing, Christian education of youth, Faith | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CWG Prayer Chain Post: July 26, 2015

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Psalms 145:10-11, 15-16, 17-18

All your creatures shall thank you, Yahweh, and your faithful shall bless you. They shall speak of the glory of your kingship and tell of your might, All look to you in hope, and you feed them with the food of the season. And, with generous hand, you satisfy the desires of every living creature. Upright in all that he does, Yahweh acts only in faithful love. He is close to all who call upon him, all who call on him from the heart.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


JULY INTENTION PRAYER (from Psalms 103)

Bless Yahweh, my soul, from the depths of my being, his holy name;
bless Yahweh, my soul, never forget all his acts of kindness.
He forgives all your offenses, cures all your diseases,
he redeems your life from the abyss, crowns you with faithful love and tenderness;
Yahweh is tenderness and pity, slow to anger and rich in faithful love;
his indignation does not last for ever, nor his resentment remain for all time;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor repay us as befits our offenses.
As the height of heaven above earth, so strong is his faithful love for those who fear him.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Leave a comment

Do You Love Me?

Photo Credit: Judy Klein

Photo Credit: Judy Klein

Do you believe that you are utterly loveable? That you are loved unconditionally by an all-loving God? That nothing you think, say or do can ever change God’s love for you? This is the fundamental question of the human condition—a question we spend our entire lives trying to get answered.

Thanks to my two-year-old grandson, Joseph, I’ve had ample opportunity to meditate upon this question of late. That’s because adorable little Joseph—a tiny tot who consists entirely of unrelenting preciousness—walked around during our family vacation asking everyone in his presence, with the weight of his whole twenty-seven pounds behind each impromptu inquiry: “Do you love me?” He consistently caught me off guard with his question, and I wish I had a picture of the satisfied, delighted look on his face every time he received an enthusiastic “Yes!” We relished in the game repeatedly…until I changed the rules.

“Joseph, do you love me?” I asked him back.

“Yessth,” he replied.

“How much?” I added playfully.

He looked completely perplexed, so I showed him how to raise his arms wide out front and say, “I love you this much!”

The game really got interesting when I upped the ante. “Well, I love you THIS much!” I said, opening my arms wider than his.

“You cheated!” he exclaimed spontaneously in a frustrated voice, reducing me to hearty laughter. And he was right.

We cheat love when we begin to measure it, when we place it on systems of scales that ultimately grow out of systems of human performance. I’ve thought a lot this week about how I often do that in my relationship with God.

“How much do you love me, God?” I challenge unconsciously. “Will you love me more if I get it right, do it right, act just right?” Of course, I never say these things out loud, and I am usually unaware that I’m playing the performance game with God. At least, not until I quiet down and get still enough to open myself to God’s heart-penetrating gaze, and simply ask, as little Joseph frequently asks: “Will you hold me?”  In those moments I catch a glimpse of how hard I try to measure up, believing it can somehow win me more love, grace, blessing. It is then that I become convinced that God desires not for us to achieve but to rest, to rest in the infinite embrace of His love that it may soften us, heal us, transform us and fill us with peace.

When we begin to measure God’s love against our being able to earn it, deserve it, or be worthy of more (or less) of it, we cheat Love entirely of His veracity. Because here’s the thing—God is love, and He knows no other way. He loves us infinitely, unconditionally, unyieldingly, and nothing we think, say or do can ever change that fact. God’s love does not come packaged in systems of weights and measures. Instead, it is given freely, totally, unreservedly. There’s only one question He asks of us: “will you receive it?” Our answer lies in another question: do we believe it?

When I asked little Joseph how much he loved me, his face betrayed the fact that he hadn’t the first clue what I was talking about. Childlike in his faith, Joseph believes absolutely that he is loved, and he neither challenges the answer when it is given nor understands how to measure it. Intuitively, he knows that to enclose love in the small space between one’s arms is to cheat. Maybe that’s what Jesus meant for us to learn when He insisted that we become like little children.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing, Family Life, Love | 9 Comments

By a Thread

What would it take for you to physically plunge into a crowd, at risk of great personal embarrassment, just to get a one in a million chance to touch the most famous person of your day? Desperation mixed with some frustration.  It was financial ruin, total loss of health and nothing left to lose that motivated the woman with the hemorrhage.  She had been at this for twelve incredibly long years.  There was nothing else. She’d tried it all and was still desperately sick. All the doctors and healers and money didn’t help her.  Yet she was hopeful even the most minimal contact would be the fix.

Isn’t it interesting that, even in our most abandoned state, we still have a thread of hope?  In each human, God has planted that miracle. “Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for.” (Heb 11:1) Hope is more than a theological concept and so real that it is actually expressed as part of our incarnation. In the Bible, as well as tradition, God sends the clear and repeated message that to be incarnate is good as well as being a tangible proof that God’s love is real. Sometimes our gaze wanders off and we lose sight of that.  Even in the oldest traditions of Jewish Law this is apparent.  In an interesting detail, Luke describes that the woman only “went for” the most minimal contact with the Lord.  She did not tackle him, confront him, hug him, grab his hand or any other grand gesture. “She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped.” (Lk 8:43 NIV) All she wanted was a simple tiny touch from the font of his love and mercy and that was enough.

If you know anything about Jewish Law, you know that any good and holy Jew was expected to strictly keep 613 laws as part of daily living.  This comes from the idea that we humans are so unworthy to even approach God that keeping the Law was the only way we could come close enough to honor and please Him and be a good Jew. The Laws covered everything from prayer, to cooking, to eating, to cleaning, to making the garments that were worn and more. Interestingly enough, the Mitzvah (Law) also specifies how the edge (fringe) of garments should be constructed:  The Lord said to Moses as follows: “Speak to the Israelite people and instruct them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout the ages; let them attach a thread of blue to the fringes on each corner.”

Isn’t that a curiosity in light of the Luke reading? Not so much!  Here’s the next part: “That shall be your fringe; look at it and recall all the commandments of the Lord and observe them, so you do not follow your heart and eyes in your lustful urge. Thus shall you be reminded to observe all My commandments and be holy to your God.” (Num. 15:37-41). 

Jesus was an observant Jew and would have been wearing a proper garment according to the Law when the woman with the issue of blood decided to “go for it”.  In the fringe of her touch was a blue thread.   A thread, one tiny thread. God’s reminder to all of Israel that God exists, his love and hope are already written in our hearts, and all we have to do is to reach out, however weakly, however haltingly, however full of doubt we are.  The thread of hope dwelling in our incarnation does not die. It never leaves us.  It calls us to deeds of madness in our attempts to connect with God.  The woman saw the thread; she sparked her own thread of hope and because of that, in impossible circumstances, she connected with God.  Because of that, impossible healing occurred and her life was changed forever. By a thread!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Marketing – Goodreads II

thumbnailrosarykeyboard

Let’s continue with the many ways an author can use Goodreads to promote their work and reach fans that they normally wouldn’t touch. I write Catholic fiction, so most of my readers are Catholic and my books are reaching their target audience through word-of-mouth, Catholic organizations, Catholic schools, and religious markets. How do I reach others who don’t frequent the paths and byways that I travel? Goodreads has allowed me to market to many varied and otherwise unreachable readers and potential fans. I have received reviews both good and bad from readers who identified themselves as atheists, pagans, Buddhists, and Muslims. I have a following of “Born-Again” Christians who have invited me to their churches to speak. I have been welcomed into numerous Protestant organizations to share my work. I like to say that Lutherans are my biggest fans. How did this happen? Most of it happened through Goodreads.

In order to reach others with your thoughts, writings, and faith you have to travel.  Travel means surfing the social network. Jesus didn’t just preach in the synagogues – He stood on the mount, spoke in the valley, rode on a donkey and reached out to the farmers, shepherds, and tax-collectors of his day. He reached the world without the benefit of the Internet. How blessed are you? You can reach out while sitting in your pajamas sipping coffee in your own home. Instead of being afraid of using social media, you should be praising God that you were born into such a magical time. The top bar of Goodreads is your road to others.

I run Goodreads contests and give away my work at least once a month. In order to start a give-a-way, Go to the top bar of your Goodreads page, click on explore, and click on give-a-ways. You will be channeled to the giveaway page and be delighted to see the many and varied books being offered free by various authors in all genre. Entering the contests to win a copy of a book is just a click away. You can also narrow your interest by entering the kind of book you would like the win. Do you want a mystery or a fantasy? Do you want a romance or a horror? Go ahead and enter. If you win a free book give back – write a review!

It’s great to win a book, but it is even better to offer your book! Once you are on the give-away page, look to the right and click on list a giveaway. Have your book ready so you can answer the basic questions required like your ISBN number. What fun! You pick the timing and the number of books in your contest. Goodreads recommends running your contest for a month but I find that a week is just as good. Once you get toward the end of your contest timing Goodreads alerts readers that the contests is about to close and you will see an influx of interested parties. Be ready with a short description of your work and be honest. Don’t try to draw an audience with deceptive marketing unless you are ready for the pile of bad reviews you will receive. Don’t list your book as a mystery and slam the winner with a book on theology. I personally would be angry if I entered a contest for a Christian book only to find out it was a book on vampires. You have an opportunity to put an accurate blurb – do it. You can also place tags on your book. Again be honest but creative. Use tags that are true but along with the obvious look for unique tags to reach odd searches by readers. Does your Christian mystery have a detective from Detroit? Put the place, nationality, or unique characteristic as a tag. Does you children’s book involve a pig, dog, or angel? What great tags!

Now comes the best part of running a Goodreads contest. What countries do you think would like your book? You get the offer to run your contest in the United States, Canada, Australia, or the United Kingdom. Do you want to reach England with your historical study? Are you hoping to expand your readership to down under? Go ahead plan a contest. However don’t stop there. If you scroll down, you can pick particular countries from all over the world. Does your mystery take place in Ireland? Gee, maybe you should run a contest in that country. The options are unlimited. I have run contests in Australian, the UK and Canada and picked up fans along the way.

Goodreads also offers numerous other options like a list of quotes by famous people who I find both inspiring and helpful. You can list your favorite authors and make a list of your Goodreads friends. You can run quizzes and discussions on your latest works. It is a golden opportunity to expand your readership and find others who share your passion for books. Next time let’s discuss the Book Launching Party!

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 1 Comment

CWG Prayer Chain Post: July 19, 2015

The CWG Prayer Chain Post is a weekly post for members to include their special intentions by adding a comment.

Ephesians 2:13-18

But now in Christ Jesus, you that used to be so far off have been brought close, by the blood of Christ. For he is the peace between us, and has made the two into one entity and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, by destroying in his own person the hostility, that is, the Law of commandments with its decrees. His purpose in this was, by restoring peace, to create a single New Man out of the two of them, and through the cross, to reconcile them both to God in one Body; in his own person he killed the hostility. He came to bring the good news of peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. Through him, then, we both in the one Spirit have free access to the Father.


The power of prayer and the power of people praying.


JULY INTENTION PRAYER (from Psalms 103)

Bless Yahweh, my soul, from the depths of my being, his holy name;
bless Yahweh, my soul, never forget all his acts of kindness.
He forgives all your offenses, cures all your diseases,
he redeems your life from the abyss, crowns you with faithful love and tenderness;
Yahweh is tenderness and pity, slow to anger and rich in faithful love;
his indignation does not last for ever, nor his resentment remain for all time;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor repay us as befits our offenses.
As the height of heaven above earth, so strong is his faithful love for those who fear him.

Please leave a comment with your intention. If you have problems adding an intention, email it to Mike Hays at coachhays(at)gmail(dot)com and I will add it.  God bless.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Leave a comment

Review of Finding Grace by Laura Pearl – by Teresa Frailey

My encounter with Finding Grace was a very potent one. I could easily say it is a gem amongst modern young adult fiction, a jewel of rare quality.

I’m not a professional—or anything remotely resembling one— but I know this story drew me into the life of a girl named Grace Kelly living in the seventies/eighties era. It pulled me into a struggle to achieve the ultimate goal, the pinnacle of success—sainthood. Needless to say, the story was fraught with the difficulties that wpuld assail any individual that undertakes such a task.

Complex and potent, Finding Grace unfolds with Grace’s initial decision to place sainthood as her highest endeavor.  She was inspired by a seemingly inconsequential comment from her father that if there isn’t a Saint Grace already, not to fear. She’ll become one. But high-school, threaded with the mysteries of love and immense self-sacrifice, is a battle ground for Grace Kelly. She falls deeply in love with someone who only seems to see her as a good friend that is steady and pure-hearted in the turmoil of youth and cares more for Grace’s best friend in the region of romance. Through high-school, Grace struggles to come to terms with this reality. He is very handsome, and she is slightly unattractive. He will always care for her as someone to tell his troubles to, but ultimately be drawn to her beautiful friend Irene. Grace often pleads for the grace to accept this cross bravely, believing that perhaps this monumental cross may be her narrow, thorny way to heaven—to sainthood.

A series of events in Grace’s life carries her closer along that rugged way. She draws courage and insight from the lives of the saints and the life story of her neighbor, a victim of the Holocaust.

Time passes and the reader is effectively drawn into the conundrum of two love triangles that are interwoven. Grace still seems to be only the good old friend of her high-school love. Commencement comes and soon Grace’s friends spread their wings and depart from their hometown of Plattsburg, New York while Grace, attending a local college, stays home living much the same life that she lived before.

Finding Grace provides the reader with some very profound thoughts. We see the lives of some of Grace’s friends as they go off and attend college. In the wake of the new liberal movement, the radical feminist victory of the Roe v. Wade and the new acceptance of contraception, we see the changes, subtle perhaps at first, but increasingly invasive, that starts to work in Grace’s friend Irene. As the two friends begin to move apart in their beliefs, Grace fears for the soul of her friend.

Irene becomes pregnant in college, and panicked, decides abortion is her only option. The author does a commendable job of showing the phycology of the mind as Irene makes this decision. The rhetoric of the 80s that a woman has the right to get rid of an unwanted blob of tissue persuades her in her decision that it’s the right thing to do. It would even be wrong of her to keep the baby because of the life he would be destined to suffer, finding out that his real parents didn’t want him. But a doubt persists, pressing at the edge of her consciousness, that intangible but very real part of humans that knows murder is murder by any name.

We are carried along as Irene is plagued by doubt and starts to pull back. Cajoled back to her earlier decision by the nurse at the Plan Parenthood Center, Irene follows through with the abortion. But the memory haunts her. For a while she can placate her conscience using the old rhetoric, but inevitably reality catches up with her. She researches human life in development to find to her horror that when she aborted her baby, his heart had been pumping blood—he had been alive. The crime-and-punishment phycology is very well explained and described as Irene begins a descent into a pit of despair. But through God’s grace, Irene is finally led back to her friend and from there can find the courage to start believing that God can indeed forgive even the worst of sins.

The ending was beautifully done. The story of someone trying to find grace in a world full of objections is inspiring for all people. To say Finding Grace is a worth-while read is an understatement. Its insights are profound; the contemporary rhetoric, the human struggles, the temptations and the back round takes the reader through a journey of treading against the current, of finding the grace to do so.

This story was profoundly inspiring. It showed that the road to heaven may be scattered with thorns and is, without a doubt, almost impossible to not get side-tracked along the way at times, but with grace every soul may find its way.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | 3 Comments

June Round-Up

roundupI have a sneaking suspicion ya’ll think the Round-Up is for a small group of insiders, but you’re wrong!

This monthly collection is for all Guild Members who blog. Share your own best, or favorite, post from the prior month, and take a peek at the blogs of your fellow Members.

In June, Kassie Ritman, Nancy Ward, Michael Seagriff and yours truly (Charlotte Ostermann) showed how very various a writer’s blog can be.

On our blogs, we showcased the wise words of others, celebrated family history, took up a viral internet challenge, and got inspired by an iron man.

Please check these out, and put SEND ROUND-UP LINK on the second Monday of each month. We’d like to see what you’re writing, too!

 

Posted in Blogging, Current events, Defending the Faith, Encouragement for Writers, Inspirational, Journalism | 2 Comments

Healing the Father-Wound

A Father’s Blessing by Linda Schubet

I wish my father had read The Healing Power of a Father’s Blessing by Linda Schubert. He parented his three daughters from a distance, following the familiar pattern of how he was raised. Oh, Daddy was in town, working six days a week at the five-and-dime stores he managed in towns around Texas and New Mexico. He was sometimes home at suppertime and sometimes went to church with us. He wasn’t a demonstrative man who hugged or kissed much or sat down to read to us or ask us about school. He suddenly died when I was 18. I once asked my mother if he loved me, and she said, “Of course he loved you — because you reminded him of me!”

In the slim little book, The Healing Power of a Father’s Blessing, Linda Schubert described the “father-wound” that so many of us experience. Father-wounds, the deepest wounds on earth, cover our hearts in layers and often are healed in layers. Father-wounds come from lack of bonding in an abusive or insecure environment where the child feels fatherless, not provided for and unprotected. Children with father-wounds are so vulnerable to the dominance of others that they cannot think for themselves or develop their unique selves.

Fortunately, father figures have prayed with me and healed a few layers of my father-wound. The place God created in my heart that only he can fill is no longer empty. It fills up a little more each time I ask for my Father’s Blessing.

How do we get a Father’s Blessing? “Prayer of a Loving Father based on Psalm 23,” the subtitle of Linda’s book, provides the answer. She enumerates 13 aspects of a Father’s Blessing with specific prayers to heal each of them. The prayers relate to 13 verses in Psalm 23, and in other Scripture verses. The 13 prayers of blessing are stunningly personal, reaching into the heart-depth level of the father-wound to heal it.

How can these prayers heal the father-wounds inside us that hurt so much and yet seem a permanent part of us? Here are nine ways Linda Schubert offers from her 40 years of experience in the healing ministry.

  1. A father can pray his blessing onto audio or video tapes to play for his children at bedtime and times of crisis, illness or insecurity. My husband plans to do this after reading the book.
  2. A father of young children can pray his blessing during their prayer time, preceded by a discussion and drawing pictures of what “blessing” means.
  3. Fathers with adult children can use the prayer to ask forgiveness. Adult children can thank their father for “implied” blessings he gave them such as a sense of responsibility, sense of humor or gift of spirituality.
  4. A stand-in father in a group setting can share his experience and pray an individual blessing on each one in the group. I have seen this work well in groups as small as a Bible study and as large as a conference.
  5. A stand-in father can pray a blessing one-on-one, representing a natural father and asking forgiveness for hurts and abuses received. My husband and I were trained in praying a Father’s Blessing as one of the five keys of the Unbound ministry in our covenant community. We have partnered in praying for individuals in this way during and after the Unbound conference the community sponsored.
  6. Individually you can pray, asking the Lord to give you the experience of a Father’s Blessing as you read or listen to a recorded version. Now that I have read this book, I am adding a Father’s Blessing to my prayer tools to cooperate with the healing God wants for me.
  7. A male relative can pray a Father’s Blessing individually over the children in a fatherless home, or the mother could pray it as God the Father. My husband and I have prayed with single parents and widows, sometimes with their children.
  8. Male clergy such as Catholic priests can represent natural fathers and give a Father’s Blessing in the sacrament of Reconciliation. I would love to experience this.
  9. Prayer group leaders can facilitate a 13-week program using the 13 aspects of a Father’s Blessing in Psalm 23 with group discussions.

Because I have experienced several of these ways in private settings, prayer groups and Bible studies, seminars and conferences such as Unbound, many hurts of my childhood were healed. I can freely grow into the unique self that God created me to be as his child – safe, secure and loved.

Of the many books on inner healing, this one is focused on healing the father-wound. If you recognize that you have this wound, I recommend the book as a start or to take the next step in inner healing. Perhaps you will benefit from receiving a Father’s Blessing as I have. First Thessalonians 5:23-24 is my prayer for you.

May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

Posted in Book Review, Inspirational | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Marketing – Goodreads I

thumbnailrosarykeyboard

Using social media to promote your work is not only advisable but is also expected today. One of the great media tools is Goodreads. Goodreads was created in 2006 by Otis and Elizabeth Chandler with a stated mission “to help people find and share books they love… [and] to improve the process of reading and learning throughout the world.” In 2011, Goodreads acquired Discovereads, a book recommendation engine that employs “machine learning algorithms to analyze which books people might like, based on books they’ve liked in the past and books that people with similar tastes have like.” On November 2012, Goodreads had surpassed 12 million members. Amazon.com acquired Goodreads in 2013.

The first promotional tool is to join Goodreads and create an author profile. All members of Goodreads have profiles created when they join, but authors have special profiles and promotional tools. To become part of the author program, simply do a search for your own book. Click on your name as author. Scroll down to the page bottom and click on the question “Is this you?”

The benefits of presenting your profile on Goodreads are seemingly endless. You are reaching people who are readers, who take their reading seriously and who write reviews. Your work will get rated by fans and you can build up a base of loyal readers who will follow you, waiting for your next book or blog. And here is my first pointer. It is not just enough to join and set up a profile on Goodreads – you must be an active member. You should start posting the books you read and post reviews to Goodreads.  As an author, your positive reviews count with your readers.  You should always post your blog. You may think that seems like too much, but Goodreads makes it easy by allowing you to automatically have your blog post on your Goodreads site. Each time I write a blog on my website it is automatically posted on Goodreads.

You can also have Amazon and Kindle purchases reflect on your Goodreads page. It’s easy to do. Look to the right hand column of your home page and you will see New! Add your amazon books! Click on that and make the connection. It makes it easy to rate and review the books you purchase for your kindle or in print. It keeps an ongoing list of the books you ordered.

Write those reviews. Goodreads is an interactive site. When you write reviews people read them.  If they like your reviews they follow or friend you. They order your books and write reviews for you. I try to write reviews, even simple ones, for most of the books I read or order. Of course that is not always possible with a busy writing schedule. When I  can’t write the comprehensive review I would like to, I at least write a line or two and rate  the book. I cannot tell you how many followers and readers I have gained by taking the time to support other writers and their work. I am a firm believer that what you give is always returned to you with God’s grace and blessings. In Luke 6: 38 the Lord promises, “Give, and it shall be given unto you: good measure, pressed down and shaken together and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete, therewith it shall be measured to you again.”

Goodreads allows you to join on-line groups and there seems to be a group to fit every interest and need. I became so excited by the numerous groups offered that I initially  joined too many of them. I suggest you be more careful. Join one group or at the most two. Remember, this is interactive. It is better to  become a real member of a group, get to know the other members, share postings and news, then to belong and not have a presence. To find a group just  click on the top subject bar that says “groups.” Do a search for the kind of group you are interested in. Do you want a Catholic or Christian group? Do you want a writing or reading group? Do you want to join a group of children’s or non-fiction writers? The possibilities are endless. Take the time to find a group that will fulfill your needs. I have just skimmed the surface of what Goodreads offered authors. More next blog.

Posted in Catholic Writing and Publishing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment