Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Reflection

by Debby Giusti

If you’re like me, your holiday schedule is full. Cards to send, presents to wrap, a tree to trim and a home to decorate make this, as the song says, “the busiest time of the year.”

In spite of the hustle and bustle and “to do” lists that never seem to end, let’s take a moment to look back over the past year and reflect on what we’ve learned.

Here are a few of my thoughts:

●Writing inspirational stories about God’s love and mercy is a ministry, yet I am always called to do more. The world is hurting, and I must never fail to help those in need.

●Before I begin a new story, I must have a clear picture of how it will unfold. Like a puzzle, the pieces need to fit. At the onset, the characters and plot twists and red herrings and surprise ending are scattered about helter-skelter. But when placed within the framework of the story, the pieces come together as a whole. Only then am I able to start writing.

●Balance is important. As much as I love to write, I also need time away from the writing to renew my spirit so the work remains a joy instead of a burden.

● Work expands to fill the time available. If I have a lot of time to spend on a project, I’ll use lots of time. When I’m under a short deadline, I manage to complete the task quickly.

●Deadlines keep me focused and on task.

●Pausing to celebrate the completion of one project allows me to anticipate the start of the next.

●Category books can be excellent writing tools. The short word count requires me to focus on the important aspects of the story while discarding any tangents that may slow the pace or detract from the main storyline.

●In order to be compelling, characters must be flawed. Readers identify with handicaps and cheer on a hero or heroine who struggles to overcome seemingly overwhelming obstacles.

●I can’t do everything; therefore, I must use my time wisely.

●Being able to say “no” is an important lesson to learn, sometimes more important than saying, “Yes.”

●Marketing takes time, and as stated above, I can’t do everything. The secret is to start with a few manageable tasks, then add new promotional strategies when time permits.

●Set priorities. God and family come fist. Looking back, I realize my “Call” came at the perfect time, after my children had grown when I could focus full time on my writing.

Think back over what you’ve learned this past year and share a tip or two that might help the rest of us.

As we countdown to Christmas let’s take time from our busyness to prepare our hearts as well as our homes. Only then will we be filled with eager anticipation and overwhelming gratitude for the gift of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Live in the moment. Be grateful. Cherish time spent with friends and family. Pause to talk with God daily. And rejoice because a Savior is born.

Wishing you a joyous Christmas and abundant blessings in the New Year,
Debby Giusti


Tina M. Russo said...

Well said Deb.

I can only add, savor the moment.

Don't wish your time away, waiting for Friday or any other day. Time passes too fast. Find joy in each moment. I mean this sincerely.

Be present in today, and in every interaction with another person.

Chicki said...

I so appreciate your wisdom. Have a blessed and peaceful Christmas!

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Tina. Great words of wisdom. Don't wish your time away hits home.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Chicki,
Wishing you and yours a joyous Christmas! Hope to see you at GRW in the New Year. I miss everyone!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good reminders, Debby! So hard to keep things in balance ANY time of the year, but during the holidays you especially want to step back and reflect on the meaning of the season. Spend time with friends and family you may not have here forever. Grow closer to God. I don't want to look back on my life with regrets.

Gina Welborn said...

Ahhhh, the time to reflect. Let me prop up my feet and take a leisurely sip of my chai latte kept warm by the stainless steel Starbucks mug my fabulous SIL gave me for hosting her clan last week.




Thinking all those nice fuzzy thoughts about the things I've learned this year and how I've grown as a mom, wife, Christian, etc.

Why do I want to be an "etc," least of all grow as one? Wouldn't I better be served being something more specific? Alas, perhaps I'm called to be etc.

Better sip more chai.



Finding joy in this moment because four kids are at school, toddler is still in bed sleeping, hubby is taking a shower, and the dog amazingly isn't sleeping at my feet.

To be present in today, I understand.

How does one NOT be present in every interaction with another person? When one interacts with another person is not the being present inherent in the interacting? Can one "be" without "being"? Can one "do" without "doing"?




I'm so relaxed, I need a nap.

Janet Dean said...

Great post, Debby! And great idea to reflect on what we've learned this year. I'd told myself that my writing was my ministry, but like you, I've learned what a blessing it is to participate in our church's days of caring and with its benevolence.

Tina, excellent reminder to savor the moment, to live in the now. That's harder to do than it sounds.


Kim said...

I've not been commenting regularly ladies, but I'm reading! I feel like I've been in school! What amazing posts! I appreciate you guys so much!!

Many blessings,

Myra Johnson said...

Timely reminder, Debby. And Tina, you are one wise lady, too. The busyness this time of year really emphasizes how all too often we let our priorities get way out of kilter. Some of the things we put so much importance on turn out to be not nearly as important as we imagined.

Enjoy your families, everyone. Savor the season. Celebrate Christ!

Mary Connealy said...

I know a saying that I try and remind myself of a lot is: "Don't wish your life away."

It just means, in the course of wishing for something in the future or planning to cheer up, enjoy life, be happy, savor the moment....just as soon as we're through whatever hassle life is dealing us right a good way to postpone living forever.

So don't wish your life away. Enjoy NOW!

Missy Tippens said...

Wonderful post, Debby! After having my son go off to school in the fall, I'm really enjoying having him home. So my motto is what Tina said--enjoy every moment!

Of course, it's 11 am and he's still in bed. I'll have to drag him out to enjoy a moment or two with him. :)

As for what I've learned this year... I've learned a ton about plotting and about how I work/need to work. I'm still learning. And I hope to keep learning!


Debby Giusti said...

Glynna wrote, "I don't want to look back on my life with regrets."

Thanks, Glynna. You're so right!

Debby Giusti said...

Gina, etc!
Love your pondering and your moment of rest in an otherwise hectic day. Sounds like you do live in the moment. Many of us . . . as Tina mentioned earlier . . . don't!

Chai latte! How nice!

Debby Giusti said...

Janet, I know you spread God's love in many wonderful ways!!! Your writing included!

Congrats on your RT pick!!! Whoo-hoo! Super fantastic!

Debby Giusti said...

Hey, Kim. We appreciate YOU!!! If Seekerville didn't have readers, why would we exist? Okay, maybe to give Mary a hard time!

So glad you're a former Seeker-Lurker who's gone public today!

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Myra, for confirming we're all on the right page. Savor the season -- LOVE IT!!!

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Mary, for reminding us to ENJOY NOW!!! No matter what's coming our way. After all we can always write about it in the next book, right?

I keep thinking about all those kids living in that cave with their dad . . . and then in pops their new mom. Why can't I forget about Calico Canyon? 'Cause it was too darn fun to read!!! Thanks for providing instant, ENJOY NOW humor and a great read!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Missy,
Isn't it fun when the kids come home!?! I love having mine around.

Hope your toe is better!!!

One of the nice things about writing, IMHO, is there's always something more to learn.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Great post! I love this advice and how you've put it clearly.

I started something new this year...I created a file labled "Things I said 'no' to". LOL. But everything in that file means more time I have with my family.


Walt Mussell said...

Debby, wonderful post! Merry Christmas to you!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Very nice post, Debby. You learned a lot this year! Me, not so much.

Myra Johnson said...

"Things I said no to"--what a great idea, Cheryl! Sometimes we need to be reminded that it's okay to say no to some things so we actually have time to say yes to what really matters.

Audra Harders said...

Thanks for the timely reminder, Deb.

Patience was never my strong trait, but I'm lucky I learned (not very graciously, I might add!)that all things happen in the right time.

Like Tina said, never waste a moment!

Jessica said...

I think I learned that my family is more important than my writing. Which means, no getting irritated because I can't write and instead go on a walk with the kiddo.
It was a good lesson to learn and one I try to keep close by always.
Great post Debby!

Debby Giusti said...

Cheryl's learned how to say no!!! That's fantastic!!!

Seriously, saying "no" is difficult for women and I'm not talking about anything sexual. It's in our nature to want to help, to reach out to others, to nuture and to love, so we often agree to help when we don't have the time or the energy or the money.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Walt!!! Bet you're working on that historical Melissa requested right here on the Seekerville blog!!! Whoo-hoo!!!

See you next year at GRW! :)

Debby Giusti said...

Melanie, I know you've learned lots. You're running a great book club in ACFW and keeping everyone happy! You've got an agent and a book that's ready to sell!

I'd say it's been a very good year for you!

Debby Giusti said...

Myra's so right. By saying no to one thing, we're available to do the "thing" that only we can do.

Debby Giusti said...

Audra wrote, "All things happen in the right time."

It's hard to hold onto that idea when we want to sell and we keep getting rejected. I know 'cause I was at that spot for a long, long time. But when I did sell, the time was right. Proves God knows more than I do!

Debby Giusti said...

Jessica, you'll never regret spending time with your children now. They grow up too fast!

Arianna said...

After a long day of last minute Christmas shopping (which should have been done weeks ago, but didn't work out. LOL), it was nice to come home and read a new Seeker's post, after being trampled by the crowds ;0

Let's see...things I've learned this year? Well, as far as writing goes, this blog has been a huge help! But I guess the biggest things I learned in writing was to just hand it all over to God, and not count on ourselves to get that book done.

Also, to not be afraid of trying new ideas and ways of doing things, and not being afraid to submit and talk to editors. I sent my first submission about a week ago. It was just something small, but it got accepted so it meant a lot to me.

And as far as things I've learned this year in my everyday life, the number one thing I've learned is to be thankful and to never take anything for granted. I moved to the mission field over a year and a half ago, and I see horrible things around me everyday, and it just really gets you thinking about how much you really have!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Arianna,
Thanks for your beautiful message for all of us!!!

So glad you've given your work to God. He loves that!!! :)

Congrats on submitting to an editor!!! Whoo-hoo! That takes courage. Actually, they're nice gals and guys who are real people and we need not be afraid of them.

You said, "Be thankful and to never take anything for granted." Great words of wisdom!!! Thanks for stopping by today, and God bless you with all you're doing in the mission field!