Thursday, August 17, 2017

Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Baby, it’s cold outside. I’m obviously not talking about my home state of Kansas in August, but rather, outside of the comfort zone. You know the feeling. Shivers running down your spine, the urge to run back to where it’s safe, and “What was I thinking?” running through your mind. This is the first step outside of the comfort zone, and I’ll admit it’s a tough one. But here’s the thing. If we don’t step outside that tidy little circle we’ve drawn around ourselves, nothing wonderful is going to happen. Maybe, just maybe your comfort zone isn’t all that comfortable.

I’m Cindy Regnier and I’m in Seekerville today to tell you that great things never come from comfort zones. Yes, it’s true. You can choose comfort or you can choose potential. I’ve discovered that God will sometimes coax me out of a comfortable situation so that I have to find a fresh dose of faith and trust Him. I’ve also learned that God usually doesn’t push me out of my circle. I have to choose to take that first step into His glorious plan for my future.

So how does one do that? I don’t have a 12-step process guaranteed to work, but when I sense God is calling me to something I may not be comfortable with, here’s what I do. I pray for the impossible. I believe God loves to show us that nothing is impossible with Him. As in, “God, please publish my book, let people LOVE it, hear the message within, and may Your name be glorified.” Instead of  “God, if it’s good enough, please let someone publish my book someday.” One of my favorite quotes comes from Walt Disney. “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” Ever been there? 

Walt Disney
As someone who tends to doubt my own abilities, I have learned to make hope a goal. If I let myself hope for what I want, I must then put my faith into practice. It’s much harder than doubting, but it’s worth it. It also lets God show off. He likes to do that, you know.

My personal story goes something like this. I wrote my first ‘book’ (a whole two pages long) in second grade. I’ve been writing ever since because I enjoy it. Over about the last ten years, I have put my writing addiction to work, so to speak, by actually beginning (and completing!) full-length books. I’ve written a total of 12 historical romantic fiction books. None of them have ever been published, but I have learned so much along the way that every word has been worth it. IMHO, the book I finished a few weeks ago is way better than my first one, and that’s called progress.

So I could lament that I’ve never been published, or I can rejoice in how far I have come. I choose the latter. God has a purpose in every word He gives me to write, even if it’s only to hone my craft so that the next words I write can be even better.  

I have stepped outside of my comfort zone many times. I do this by entering contests, asking someone to critique my work, writing a proposal for a prospective agent, pitching to a publisher, or something I never thought I’d do; guest blogging on Seekerville! Sure, I’ve had my share of rejections and red ink, but a rejection doesn’t mean I have failed. Not writing the piece in the first place is failure. Anything beyond that is just a step on the pathway to success
As an example, several years ago I wrote a series of Biblical fiction, short stories about women from the Bible. I did this just for fun because I like to imagine what might have been. It makes the scriptures come to life for me. I let my husband read it, then my neighbor. Before I knew what had happened, the book had been (amateur) published by my local high school and 200 copies printed. My church gave one to every woman in the congregation that wanted one and now uses them as an outreach to people in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. The school has run reprints of the book several times. I’ve lost track of how many of those books are ‘out there’ now, but it’s a bunch. This is something I never dreamed could happen when I first wrote those stories, but I know they have been used by God in a mighty way. I do wish I could go back and apply some of the writing lessons I have learned since then to those stories, but God makes His point with the words, such as they are.

We all have different boundaries to our comfort zones, but wherever you are, remember you don’t have to take gigantic steps all at once. Baby steps will do. I can remember being terrified when I first told my sister I had written a book and she asked to read it. If your sister is like mine, you know that she will love the book just because you wrote it. I have no need to fear critical comments or suggested changes I don’t want to make. Still, I was scared to death – but did it anyway. Of course, my sister loved my story, and guess what? It made the next time easier. I wanted to get her another book to read as soon as I could, so I got busy and wrote some more. That barrier is far in my past now, so I choose to look there and laugh rather than being afraid of those barriers still looming in front of me. There will always be another obstacle, another comfort zone to conquer, but don’t let fear get in your way. 

So get out your pen or your keyboard, and write like nobody is ever going to read it. When they do, you’ve just passed your first comfort zone test. Onward and forward. Every obstacle overcome is one less in your path. 

Sure, it can be scary, nerve-wracking, even overwhelming to leave that comfort zone. 

Decide instead to be overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness, and remember that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

I’ve gained a huge amount of encouragement from Seekerville over the past few years. Thanks to the Seekers for having me here today to help encourage you.


What about you?  Share in the comments a time when you dared to step outside your comfort zone. Or even better share about when you dared to step outside your comfort zone to encourage someone else. 

I’m giving away a really cool writer’s notebook and cup to a writer. If you’re a reader, you could win a $10 Amazon gift card (Hint - buy a Seeker book, They’re the best!) Tell me which you’d like to win. Just for fun, I’ll  throw in one of those Women of the Bible books for both the reader and writer winners. Can’t wait to hear your beyond-the-comfort-zone adventures!



Scribbling in notebooks has been a habit of Cindy Regnier since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Born and raised in Kansas, she writes stories of historical Kansas, especially the Flint Hills area where she spent much of her childhood. Cindy is married to her husband of 34 years, has two grown sons, a son residing in heaven, a beautiful daughter-in-law, and an annoying cat. Cindy is a member of RWA and American Christian Fiction writers.  

A graduate of Kansas State University with a dual major in Agriculture and Business, Cindy works for her local school district as finance manager and is active in her church and community. Her experiences with the Flint Hills setting, her natural love for history, farming and animals, along with her interest in genealogical research give her the background and passion to write heart-fluttering historical romance. 

118 comments :

  1. I have to admit I kind of like my comfort zone. It's cushy and warm :-) But I also realize that I could stagnant there too, like a festering pond that gathers mosquitoes. Not a pretty picture huh? I know if God calls me to do something that I'm not comfortable with, He's going to give me what I need to accomplish it. I think I read something similar to this recently "Do it scared". Or maybe I'm thinking of a John Wayne quote. In any case, as long as God's in it, He'll see me through and he knows I can do whatever He's called me to.

    I remember one when I stepped out of my comfort zone to encourage someone. We had a lady that used to come to our church every so often. She wasn't one that got along with too many people, there was just something about her. I avoided her whenever I could, she made me squirm. Anyway, I went to the grocery store and had just gotten out of my car when I heard someone call my name. When I turned to look who it was, what did I do? I groaned inside not wanting to talk to her. Very quickly God chastised me. So I said hello and she started ranting about this or that. I felt God telling me that I needed to pray with her right there, in the middle of the parking lot. Did I have crazy written on my forehead? LOL...no, I just know when God speaks I need to listen. So I stopped her in the middle of the rant and said something along the lines of "It sounds like you've had a rough go of things lately, can I pray with you right now?" She was taken a back a bit and said yes. I don't know the words God laid on my heart, but it brought about a peace and calmness. That is something I just never do! My heart attitude was made right :-) If I hadn't done what God asked, I might have still carried bitterness towards her and also not given God the chance to work in the situation. I'm sure there's many more times that I've stepped out of my comfort zone, but that one stands out to me. :-)

    I'm a reader, so I would love to be in the gift card draw Cindy! Thank you. The book about women of the Bible sounds good too :-) Great post, thanks for the encouragement!

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    1. Hi Trixi - I know, right? Staying in the comfort zone seems so , well, comfortable. I love your story and think you are so brave to pray right in the grocery store parking lot. But I get it. When God tells you to do something sort of weird, you know it has to be God. Only He could orchestrate that. You're in the reader drawing!

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  2. It's not easy stepping out of your comfort zone. It's only recently that I had driving lessons. Yes, I got my license but driving still terrifies me, which explains why I save my nerves and everyone else and walk a lot.

    I'm a reader. Love for you to throw my name in the hat thanks.

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    1. Mary, that's great! I had a great aunt that got her driver's license after age 60. She walked a lot too, but that's not what matters. What is important here is having the courage to step out and do something that scares you a little, but you know it's the right thing. Your name is in the reader hat. Seekerville LOVES readers!

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  3. Sometimes I feel like the door on my comfort zone is locked and there is no way for me to escape. Then I realize the 'door' is merely my fear of stepping out into the unknown. I was really working hard at getting words down for a couple of story ideas that I had. I made the mistake (for me) of letting someone read them when I only had a few chapters written. She loved the chapters and wanted more and started pushing me to get more to her. About that time I had to step up a caregiver to my mom who's health was failing and my writing stopped as I devoted my heart to my Mom and my story ideas simply faded away. My Mom passed away in February and I am still trying to go through all of her things and get order back into our lives (I still have boxes and boxes of her things I have to go through and I can only do a little at a time. This alone takes me out of my comfort zone as it is so hard to look at my Mom's things and then try to decide what to do with them. I would love to sit down and work on past story ideas on my computer but I can't justify the time spent there when the boxes are all over our house. I pray that once I am through all of this that the story ideas will come back to me. If not, then I know God has other plans for me. If the stories come back I want to start stepping out of the comfort zone and put my stories in contests. I'm not afraid of feedback good or bad.

    I would love to be placed in either drawing...wherever you feel I would fit. :)

    Thank you for your post today Cindy. It has offered great encouragement to me.

    Blessings,
    Cindy W.

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    1. Cindy W., we all have seasons in our lives. You are right to take the time to mourn. I didn't, I went back to Everything Else too soon, and it hit me later. If your heart is right, God will give the writing back to you.
      Kathy Bailey

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    2. Aw Cindy, Kathy is right. Take the time you need to mourn. I've been whee you are and I know how it feels to have the boxes sitting around. I will pray for you. Something to consider, maybe God is calling you to use writing at this time in your life to help with your grief. Try journaling or maybe even writing stories about things you mom said or did that you want to remember. I wrote a book about the life of my son just a few months after he passes. To be honest, it was extremely difficult during the process. But now I have those memories down and the book has become a treasure to my family. Let God heal your broken heart by obeying when He calls you out of the darkness. Sometimes it feels so safe there, but whatever He is calling you to is a better place to be.

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  4. Comfort zones....we love to hold onto them, don't we?
    There was that time that I stepped out and decided to pray with someone I didn't know too well, right there in the middle of the corridor of our school's main building. It brought her comfort and I was glad we prayed together. My heart needs to be softened more so I can do that more.

    I would love to be entered into the gift card drawing. And your book sounds great!

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    1. Wow, that's a great story. God calls us to do things we don't want to do, but when we do, it feels wonderful. Right? Keep listening and obeying. You are in the drawing!

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  5. I love seeing you on this side of the fence, my friend! I'm on vacation this week, in the rugged hills and broad valleys of Idaho with a wonderful and large group of authors... and great food... ;)

    But I couldn't MISS THIS POST over here! Go get 'em, Tiger!!!! I love your thoughts about comfort zones. I'm a rebel, I think the more we get shaken up, the more productive we can be... and produce better stuff.

    Science showed that northern chickadees were more resilient and inventive, raising their survival rate, than southern chickadees because they had to fight to stay alive in the north... The strong prevailed...

    Adversity and change don't just build character. They build resolve.

    So when we push ourselves into those discomfort zones, I think we're doing ourselves the BEST FAVOR EVER.

    Well, second best.

    Love God with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole soul.

    Then embrace change!

    Cindy, thank you for this thought-provoking post!!!

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    1. Hi Ruthy. Have a wonderful time and enjoy. Sure am glad you dropped by today, though. I like your term of "discomfort zone." Never thought of it quite that way but you are right. We all need to spend more time there and be find ourselves closer to God because we did. You are such an encouragement to me!

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    1. And it smells wonderful! Partake, all you villagers in need of virtual liquid stimulation. Taking my first sip now. Mmmmmm. Ruthy makes really good coffee!

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  7. I equate stepping out of my comfort zone with change, something I'm not of fan of. But without it, we can never grow and reach our God given potential. It's great to see you here, Cindy! I really appreciate this encouraging post.

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    1. Thanks Jill. I'm not a fan of change either, and bet most people here aren't. When He is calling us out of a comfort zone, how comforting to know God never changes.

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  8. There isn't much in writing I'm afraid of, at this point. Learn craft, keep writing, stay connected, trust God. I enter contests and submit to editors or agents when it's appropriate.
    NOTHING is comfortable in my personal life right now. I'm out on a limb with a retirement income that hasn't quite worked out, and I have an adult daughter on disability who still depends on us for some things. I'm worried about what will happen to her when A. Both my husband and I are retired and on ye old fixed income; and B. When we both die.
    Writing, I can handle almost anything that's thrown at me. Personal life, not so much.
    But since this is a writing blog...after I'm published, my brand is established and I have some readership, I WOULD like to stretch a little, maybe into cozy mysteries like our friend Ruthy did, maybe into something else. I'd also love to be part of a continuity or a nbvella collection with other writers.
    A thought-provoking post, Cindy R.
    A question: If you're in Kansas in August, are you corny? Or as normal as blueberry pie?
    Kathy Bailey
    Willing to stretch in New Hampshire

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    1. Hi Kathy. I've never been asked that before but I'd have to say both corny and normal as blueberry pie. Usually when people find out I'm from Kansas they want to know about Wizard of Oz and tornadoes. No, I've never been in a tornado but have had some close calls.
      I envy you (in a good way) if writing doesn't make you afraid. It would feel very nice to have writing as a crutch, so to speak. Something to fall back on when the rest of life gets tough. Alas, I fear most of us writers still have our scary places, some more than others.
      I had a disabled son that lived with us until he passed away at age 24. I used to worry about all those same things, but he knew better than I what was ahead. When people asked how they could pray for him, he always asked them to pray for his mom who took care of him. I rejoice that you have the blessing of your disabled daughter (I know you know what I mean) and pray God gives you peace about her. In the meantime, write away!

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  9. I'd love to be entered for Amazon gift card. I actually need books.

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  10. Hi Cindy
    For whatever reason this resonated with me "write like nobody is ever going to read it" Sort of like the dance like nobody's watching thing.

    You have been very encouraging to me today. I'm still seeking which genre I need to be writing because there are several I really enjoy and I need focus.
    I would love to read your women of the Bible book. That sounds even more cool than the Amazon gift card.

    Thanks for sharing at Seekerville today!

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    1. p.s.
      I'm not very good at leaving my comfort zone - but am learning to venture out more often than not. Seekerville has been helpful for that.

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    2. Hi Deb. I "coined" that little phrase based on that song since it fit me a whole lot better than dancing. It does help me write emotion. And I don't think it's a bad thing to make sure you choose the right genre before you get focused. The thing is, there is no right or wrong. Once you get started, all those genres are still there and still available for you to use as stretching exercises. I feel like I am called to write historical fiction, but sometimes I take a completely new approach just for fun. I wrote a "fairy tale" last month and so enjoyed doing that. Just 'keep it fun' and keep on Seekerville(ing). Yes, I know that's not a word but I just stepped out of my comfort zone to invent it

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  11. Hi Cindy, great post today. I'm an introvert and don't mind a day at home all by myself. When I go out though, I try to push myself to say something nice to a stranger. I've especially worked on this since moving to SC (that was a huge move out of my comfort zone). Complementing a stranger on a pretty blouse or something almost always brings a smile to their face. I've also discovered engaging a waiter or waitress in conversation seems to lessen their stress. Maybe as I take little steps out of my comfort zone, I'll be more excited about the big steps as well.

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    1. Hi Jackie - many of us writer types know what it's like to be an introvert. I think my dream occupation would be a hermit.
      Your idea about speaking to a stranger is a great one. I'd have to go way outside of my comfort zone to do that because sometimes it's about all I can do to talk to people I know. I get it, though. We have to do what makes us uncomfortable in the little things in order to move onto the bigger things. I'm going to try speaking to a stranger today. Thanks for your encouragement. (In this and many other ways!)

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  12. Lovely post, Cindy. God is always encouraging me to move forward, to leave my comfort zone and follow Him. Often I drag my heels, but He continues to gently nudge me out of my "now" to the tomorrow He has planned for me. When I follow His lead, I'm never disappointed.

    Congrats on your success with your Women in the Bible series. Perhaps the Lord wants you to follow that path and develop those stories or those types of stories.

    Hugs!

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    1. Thank you Debby. You are right. Following God will not leave us disappointed, no matter how scary it may seem at the time. And His nudges are very gentle. Thank you for all the encouragement I find in your Seekerville posts.

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  13. Cindy, I loved your post! You've nailed what we writers must go through if we hope to find success. Though God's definition of success may not be ours, He's calling us to obedience. And that usually requires stepping out of that comfort zone. Thanks also for the reminder to hang onto hope. Anything is possible with God.

    Congrats on the far reaching impact of your Women of the Bible stories!

    Janet

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    1. Janet! So right! I'd rather walk in obedience than be successful, but isn't it wonderful how often those two things go hand in hand? As you said, God's definition of success usually looks a little different than ours, but I would venture to say that His is far more beautiful than anything we dream up. Can I get an amen?

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    2. Amen! Cindy, I've been amazed how much better God has worked things out than I could've even imagined. Other times, it's wait. Waiting is hard. No is harder. But often He's waiting for us to take that first step before He acts.

      Janet

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  14. Welcome to Seekerville, Cindy! Delighted to have you with us today.

    In your honor, peach upside down muffins!!!

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    1. Oh Tina - thanks, I'm starving. And you even brought some GF just for me!

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  15. CINDY!!! This blog has so many great quotes that I have sensory overload this morning -- better than six cups of coffee!!

    First of all, LOVE these quotes of yours:

    "Great things never come from comfort zones, and "You can choose comfort or you can choose potential."

    WOW, you nailed it, my friend, and on a day I soooo needed to hear it, too, so THANK YOU!!

    Am absolutely BLOWN AWAY, not only that you have written a total of 12 historical romantic fiction books, but that you aren't published yet!! I happen to know you are a WONDERFUL writer, not only because I did a critique for you, but because this blog is EXCELLENT today and riveted me from the onset!

    And what a GREAT QUOTE FROM WALT DISNEY!! “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

    It's hard for me to say who is more inspiring this morning -- you or Walt! :)

    You also said, "It also lets God show off. He likes to do that, you know."

    LOL ... never thought about God "showing off," but I do now, and it's SUCH a great picture for us as His children. We preen when our own kids succeed, so I guess it only makes sense that He does too! ;)

    WELL ... this post SO stirred my pot this morning that I am going to have to split my comment in two lest Blogger jerks me off with a cane ... ;)

    Hugs!!
    Julie

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  16. Hey, Cindy,

    You started writing WAY before I did -- 2nd grade?? I started in 5th, but like you, my sister was my first advocate.

    I love, Love, LOVE your story as follows: "I can remember being terrified when I first told my sister I had written a book and she asked to read it. If your sister is like mine, you know that she will love the book just because you wrote it. I have no need to fear critical comments or suggested changes I don’t want to make. Still, I was scared to death – but did it anyway. Of course, my sister loved my story, and guess what? It made the next time easier."

    Oh my, did I relate to this!! My little sister Katie would beg me to read my book every night to her when she was nine and I was twelve, raving about how good it was. Like you, this spurred me on, of course. That story was the basis for my debut novel A Passion Most Pure some forty years later, and Katie was STILL the first one who always read and praised my books during those first years as a published author. :)

    I am saying a prayer for supernatural favor for you with publishers because you are long overdue. But take heart -- so was Ruthy, and look at her now!!

    Hugs and more hugs,
    Julie

    P.S. I KNOW you have contest finals or wins, and girl, I'd slap those suckers into your bio pronto!! ;)

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    1. Julie - you never fail to make me lol. Thank you so much for all your kind words. I mentioned to Jackie earlier that I'd like to be a hermit, but I think I will change my mind and say "When I grow up, I want to write like Julie Lessman." You are so awesome and I am so humbled by your encouraging and uplifting words. And thanks again for that great critique (I won it during Speedbo!) So helpful and so encouraging. I remain a faithful Julie Lessman reader and fan. Great to know you (and your sister) started out the same way as me!
      P.S. Still learning that lesson of stepping outside of my humility zone. Contest credits? Does anybody read those?

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    2. LOL, oh honey, are you kidding??? Take a look at my signature line on my emails I sent you and then ask me that question!! All I know is if I see contest wins/finals on a book, they've hooked me halfway home, seriously. Besides -- you worked hard for those finals/wins, so MILK 'EM!!!

      HUGS AND MORE HUGS!!
      Julie

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  17. Hi Cindy and welcome to Seekerville. What a treat to have you posting with us today. And what a great and inspiring post. I'm with Julie. Love all the super quotes. Thanks for sharing with us and have fun today. PS Julie is right. You need to get all those finals and wins in your bio. Congrats btw

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    1. Hi Sandra.. Thank you for being here today to support me. Seekers are the best! OK, that's two votes to change my bio. I'll have to think on that. Ouch - listing credits is almost as painful as leaving a comfort zone. Or maybe it's the same thing. At any rate, sure do appreciate you and all the Seekers. There is no place like Seekerville for encouragement!

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    2. Hey, Sandra, thanks for convincing Cindy to get her finals/wins in her bio!! :)

      Hugs,
      Julie

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  18. Cindy!!! Wonderful post. I would love a copy of Women of the Bible. It's so hard to put our work out here. I have a good friend that I run stuff by. Her cheering and support is what kept me going, entering contests, following through with critiques. I wouldn't be where I am on this writing journey without God giving me the words and my friend encouraging me. I have found that when I step outside my comfort zone, (which is about 2 feet outside of my personal space and anywhere outside of leaving home lol, it's not as bad as I thought it would be. So, if you're comfort zone is always changing, does that mean eventually it will all be your comfort zone?

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    1. Hi Sally! Thank God for friends and Seekerville. And yes, that comfort zone can get pretty narrow sometimes. Maybe you and I could be co-hermits. Is that a thing or does another hermit hanging around sort of negate. . . never mind. I don't think the "discomfort zone" as Ruthy put it, ever goes away completely. There's always something else to tackle, but I am looking forward to the day when those giants don't seem quite so big. Let's go shrink them to small size. Together we can do it, sister.

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    2. I think hermits co-habitating are still hermits lol. Sometimes though having that other person makes the comfort zone bigger. You've got someone on your side right with you. I can tackle so much more that way. Yes we can! Together we can do anything!

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  19. Cindy, I absolutely love this post!
    My favorite is the Bible fiction stories that were passed out. That is so COOL!


    "If your sister is like mine, you know that she will love the book just because you wrote it."

    This makes me smile.
    My sisters wouldn't tell me they loved it if they didn't. .
    My family is pretty honest. Except for a chapter or two, they've never read my stories. When I get published, they'll all get a copy.
    :)

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    1. Hi Connie - we all need our sisters. That is for sure. Feeling blessed to have mine. And I would have to admit it was pretty scary having all those books with my name on the spine handed out to people i didn't know. But hey, I sort of know them now and that's pretty cool.

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  20. Cindy, wonderful to see you in Seekerville today!

    Comfort zones... Ah.... I think every writer's faced this at one time or another. I agree that entering contests, garnering feedback on our mss, and encouraging others are great ways to grow beyond our self-imposed bubbles.

    Great thoughts today!

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    1. Thank you Cynthia. I would have probably quit this writing thing a long time ago without all the encouragement I get in Seekerville and from my friends. Thanks for being one of them.

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  21. Hi Cindy, thanks for writing this. I love your story. God usually squeezes me out of my comfort zone, puts on enough pressure that I have to choose His way. I've learned that if I say "I'll never do" or "I don't want to do" that the thing I use thought of will probably be on the horizon sooner or later. I have a ton of out of the comfort zone stories from learning to kneel in church to this one. (I apologize to my Seeker friends for the length)

    My mom had very severe MS while I was growing up, bad enough that she couldn't speak and was never out of bed. I loved my mom but her issues made it impossible for me to face people with severe disabilities. I was miserable around disabled people because of what it brought back to my memory.

    I have taught horse back riding for over 50 years and up to about 20 years ago I always said I'd teach any kind of rider on any horse, just not therapeutic lessons for handicapped riders. But one day a mother of a little girl with cerebral palsy approached me. They had lost a place for her riding and it was so helpful to her health and the girl loved it so much. They were desperate to help her. Wouldn't I help them? The mother would show me what to do.

    Erica and her mom were so sweet that I would have had to bury my head to say no. And in the short time that I worked with her she became one of my favorite students. And Erica led to working with people with autism, Down Syndrome, and fetal alcohol syndrome. And you know what? After a few months the Lord provided another place for them to go with someone who was more qualified and trained in Therapeutic riding and I really missed my kids.

    Sometimes God squeezes us out of our comfort zones to help us be obedient, sometimes to heal our own hurt. But for me, if I don't take the gentle urging usually I'll end up sailing through the air like a lemon seed popping from my fingers and I end up plopped right in the middle of something He wants for me. And I'm so glad it happens this way because the results are always way better than if I ignored the pressure.

    And later, the first story I wrote ended up being about a handicapped girl and a pony. And this was not intentional.

    And I still hang the ornament Erica made me for Christmas on my tree every year.

    God is so good.

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    1. Barbara, what a wonderful experience! Having volunteered with a therapeutic horseback riding center for 7 years back in another phase of my life, I know exactly what you're talking about. There's nothing like it!

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    2. I bet you miss the kiddos too

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  22. Oh Barbara, thank you for sharing that. What a sweet story. I know little Erica was blessed by you and your willingness to help her past your own "nevers." We all have our 'nevers' and God has such a way of turning them into successes. Your lemon seed analogy is great. Thank God He has called us His children and not his 'lemon seeds.'

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  23. Cindy, welcome to the other side of the blog, and thank you for such an inspiring and motivating post! Oh, those comfort zones and how we cling to them. Like Julie, I found so many "quotables" in your post--truths that should be made into little signs to hang over every writer's workspace.

    One of my biggest steps outside my comfort zone was back in my earliest writing days when, after selling a story to Highlights for Children, somehow I qualified for a partial scholarship to the Highlights Chautauqua Conference. Shy little me??? Travel from Texas to New York State??? ALONE??? Where I knew absolutely no one??? Well, I did it, and it was amazing.

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    1. WOW, Myra, a partial scholarship to the Highlights Conference??? I guess I knew that, but I forgot -- that's pretty awesome!

      Hugs,
      Julie

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    2. That was SOOO ages ago that I hadn't thought about it in a loooong time!

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  24. Good morning, Cindy! I love your attitude--and how your Bible stories are being used!!

    Weather wise, I think Kansas is probably a bit warmer than it's been in the mountain country of Arizona...yesterday's low here was 38. Yes, Arizona. :)

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    1. Glynna - thank you! Yes we're in 90s here but thankful its not triple digits like this time of year often brings us. I got my reply to Myra in the wrong spot, but as I said to her, Thank You for all the Seekers do to encourage us. You ladies are amazing!

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  25. Myra! That's an incredible story. I would have been so scared. And that's the thing about comfort zones, stepping outside of them tends to result in something great.
    Yes, I am really into little signs hanging around to inspire me. Seekerville is a great place to mine for those. I appreciate you and all of the Seekers more than you can know!

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    1. The 'villan' in my latest story was named Myra. She is nothing like you, or even Grammar Queen for that matter. If that story is ever published, or even if it isn't, I just wanted you to know my villan is not your namesake!

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    2. LOL!!! GQ and I are both so relieved!

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  26. Very inspiring post, Cindy....thanks. I loved your comment: Following God will not leave us disappointed, no matter how scary it may seem at the time. And His nudges are very gentle.
    WOW!
    Pls. enter me for the A. card.
    Blessings on your writing!

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    1. Thanks Jackie. You are entered. Isn't it a great feeling when something is frightening to you to just step into the arms of God and go where He carries you? So thankful for that opportunity always available to us.

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  27. Cindy!

    Where do I begin? There are so many wonderful things about your post! I admire your work so much. Writing short stories about women of the Bible was something that really resonated with me. Kudos!

    And writing about the Flint Hills is very interesting. I don't live very far from that area and have always been fascinated by them. Isn't that where Jesse James hung out?

    I get the feeling that God has a special plan for your work. Keep going forward. Thanks for sharing what you've learned about comfort zone. I'm so Inspired by your post today.

    ~ Renee

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  28. Hi Renee. Thanks for your kind words. There is a cave somewhere (I've never seen it as I think it's on private property now) called the Jesse James cave that he used some as a hideout. So much interesting stuff there I never run short of things to write about.
    Thanks again for your encouragement. You have a great website picture with all the sunflowers and the cowboy with the littler cowboy.

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  29. Cindy, your perspective on moving from that comfort is great! I love that your stories were used to create a book which encourages others!

    I especially like your thought "Decide to be overwhelmed by God's faithfulness, and remember that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless." My husband and I are part of a team that leads a worship service at a nursing home serving mostly Navajo residents. Our turn comes up once a month. My husband is comfortable being up front reading the Bible and giving the message. At first, I was even uncomfortable leading the songs, but the biggest step as an introvert was to go around to each person to pray with them individually. But, yes, God if faithful. The appreciation the folks express with their smiles warms my heart. I know God encourages me to walk in that zone of discomfort to help others.

    As for writing, doing blogging has been good for for me. At first I was afraid to post. People would read my words! Eeek! Now I enjoy doing my blog.

    I'd love to read a copy of your Women in the Bible! Thank you for your thoughts!

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    1. Hi Sherida! Leading a nursing home worship service is a great thing and a fantastic way to move out of the comfort zone. Same with your blog. I know because I have the same problem. I don't do a blog post because I fear having nothing worthwhile to say and losing all my followers because it's boring. Every now and then I need a kick in the pants to blog, and when I do, it's always well received. Thanks for being in Seekerville today. Your support is much appreciated.

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  30. Hi Cindy:

    Thanks for a very interesting post! Your words sparked a lot of thoughts.

    "A comfort zone makes the best prison."

    But on second thought, should we be so cavalier in disparaging 'comfort zones'? How about all the inventors, explorers, long hunters, and missionaries (St. Paul) whose comfort zones were where so many others wish to leave theirs to enter?

    Rather than seeking greener pastures why not create the kind of comfort zone that allows us to reach our greatest potential?

    "Get Comfortable with the Right Stuff!"

    BTW: I'm curious. Which women in the bible did you select for your collection?

    Vince

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    1. Vince - somehow I got my reply posted a few paragraphs below here - just wanted you to know I'm not ignoring you! ;)

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  31. So Cindy, what are you working on now that is outside of your comfort zone? I'm working on a suspense myself.

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    1. As I mentioned earlier, I just wrote a fairy tale (sort of). How fun. I am now trying to convince myself to write something contemporary. Scary stuff. Someday I would like to try a mystery if Ruthy can convince me I can do it. Tina, you would do great with suspense, but please don't stop writing romance. I am hooked on Paradise and needing a new fix.

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    2. I have a Paradise novella coming out next week. WOO HOO. Fairy tales. You know, I love that idea and have thought about it often. Romance fairy tales are so much fun.

      Oh, contemporary is easy. It's you historical writers who have it hard.

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    3. I didn't really mean to talk about this, but if I can encourage Tina (or anyone) to write a fairy tale. . . My FT is about a princess who is less than attractive. She has plenty of suitors until her father the king tells them she has no dowry. He does this to assure that his daughter marries someone who loves her. A blind stable boy she played with as a child falls in love with her. What happens next is the stuff fairy tales are made of. Sigh. . .

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  32. Hi Vince
    As always, you have great quotes spurred by your great wisdom. "I especially like Get Comfortable with the Right Stuff!" I'll have to post that one by my computer.
    To answer your question about Women of the Bible, I didn't select eight women and then proceed to write stories about them. I simply let myself choose who I thought was interesting, someone I wanted to know more about (even if it was fiction) and wrote the story. I didn't really know at the time I was doing it how many I would end up with or that it would all be compiled into a book other people would read. Scary stuff. At any rate, the eight stories in the book are about
    1. Mary, mother of Jesus
    2. Esther (Hadassah)
    3. The Woman at the Well (I named her Rachel)
    4. The Women with the Issue of Blood (I named her Maayane)
    5. Ruth
    6. Jochabed
    7. Hannah (mother of Samuel)
    8. Mother of the Prodigal Son (which was completely fictional because she's not even mentioned in Scripture.) Her name was Tifara in my story.
    Thanks for asking and for your interest.

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  33. So good to see you here, Cindy. Twelve completed novels is an awesome accomplishment. As I read your story, I begin to understand that sometimes "comfort zone" can be another way of describing fear. Many times we don't venture forth, hope, reach for, attempt, strive, dare - because of fear, even if that fear doesn't label itself as such.

    "Fear not, I'm with you. I will never forsake you. I will hold you by my strong arm," says our loving savior. I need to remind myself daily, sometimes hourly.

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  34. Dana - such words of wisdom. Fear is definitely a four-letter-word that I can get quite afraid of. Fearless is a great word to concentrate on, and I try to do that daily, believing fear is a tool of the enemy. Not as easy as it sounds, though. Right?

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  35. Wow, Cindy, I loved this post! You said: "Shivers running down your spine, the urge to run back to where it’s safe, and “What was I thinking?” running through your mind. This is the first step outside of the comfort zone, and I’ll admit it’s a tough one. But here’s the thing. If we don’t step outside that tidy little circle we’ve drawn around ourselves, nothing wonderful is going to happen."

    Oh my, did I ever need to read this. Thank you so much for the encouragement and words of wisdom!

    And congratulations on completing 12 books! I'm in awe of that, and you. Can't wait to read them all! Thanks again!

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    1. Thanks Laura. I kinda wish I hadn't said that about 12 books because it's sort of along that line of listing contest credits like Julie and Sandra are talking to me about. That humility thing really bites me. Anyway, 12 completed books is called obedience and not much else. Do you ever get a story in your head and you just have to get it out so it'll be quiet and quit annoying you? I think about the movie Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddell says "I feel God's pleasure when I run." I feel God's pleasure when I write and I hope all the writers here do as well. For me its translated into 12 books. Never mind that most if not all of them will never make it to any readers beyond my mom and sister. Every word is for God's glory. Thanks for your support and friendship

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    2. Cindy, I definitely get stories in my head that I have to write, yet I don't always follow through on them as you have. But I'm working on changing that. Fortunately, I didn't throw any of my old half-finished manuscripts away (sometimes it's a good thing to be a hoarder, LOL) and one that I wrote years ago (about a circuit riding preacher) has become my newest passion. I simply have to finish telling this story, or die trying :-)

      Btw, what you've accomplished (awards and body of work) is truly inspiring. So please don't hesitate to share.

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  36. Cindy, welcome!! I've got to run out the door in just a minute, but your first paragraph blew me away! Must come back when I can take more time to read. I look forward to joining the chat later!

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  37. Beautiful post! I'm letting my hair down and going for it today!

    I spent some time in West Africa as a missionary (which was pretty far out of my comfort zone to begin with), but the first few months there I really played it safe--stuck with other expats I knew, didn't really push my language learning beyond the absolute essentials, didn't initiate any conversations without a safety net. And then another expat family I lived with basically gave me a bike, kicked me out the door, and sent me into town to find some women to teach. I was terrified. But it also was the most amazing experience once I got out there!

    With writing, I think it's so easy to get into the mindset of "I want to publish this someday so I need to write what I think will sell." And we play it safe. But when we do that, we really miss out on something spectacular. So today, I'm jumping on the bike and heading out into uncharted territory to see who or what I can find!

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    1. Wow Megan! A missionary in West Africa is pretty much outside anyone's comfort zone. I love the story about giving you a bike and telling you to go find someone to teach. That's like being thrown into the deep end to learn how to swim, only probably no lifeguards for a safety net.
      Now you're jumping on the bike again. You go for it and let me know where you end up.

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    2. Megan, that's a great story. I can just VISUALIZE it. So gad you shared.

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  38. Cindy, your post is most inspirational. I have a feeling you'll never live down mentioning those 12 books! God surely is proud of you, and so am I!

    I've wanted to write since the early 80's when I read my first book by Nora. I dabbled, took a Writer's Digest course, then another, but never really jumped onto that author bandwagon. Fast forward forty years...I finally decided I could write and put myself out there. Having someone else read my words was way out of my comfort zone. I first started with 1K shorts on a Harlequin board. The first time I clicked on "submit" I felt God's hand right on top of mine giving me the courage to do it. He doesn't disappoint, but knows when we need that gentle pressure to help us succeed.

    I'm a slow writer (me and Missy) and drive my two CPs crazy with just a chapter here and there, but I eventually get them finished. I guess I need to step out again and make some loftier goals for myself on my word count. I do hope to finish my WIP by the end of the year. I want God to be proud of me.

    I'm an office-supply-junkie, so would like my name entered for the notebook and cup. I've got some new organic tea I'd like to try out in it!

    Blessings,

    Marcia

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    1. Hi Marcia - you're right. I will now be known in Seekerville as the 12-booker so I better get busy and make it 13 just to get rid of that dubious title.
      It sounds like you have done a fantastic job of stepping out of your comfort zone and into a writing career. You are entered. Organic tea sounds really good!

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  39. Great post! I was shy as a kid and teen, so going into wedding photography was definitely out of my comfort zone, but as I worked for friends and as an assistant to other professionals I came out of my shell and now I have no problem kindly bossing strangers around on a wedding day ;)

    Please enter me for the readers giveaway! Thank you!

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    1. Sounds like the WEDDING PLANNER movie! One of my favorites.

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    2. Heidi - wedding photographer? Have you ever met Bridezilla? I hear she pops up every now and then on the wedding circuit and I know she would put me out of my comfort zone in a hurry. Thanks for visiting Seekerville today and you are in the drawing!

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  40. Hi Cindy!

    Great post! I need to look for the next hurdle to cross and prepare for it. You're right - there is always another one up ahead.

    And you're from Kansas! We've lived there twice, and it's one of my favorite states. The Flint Hills are absolutely beautiful!

    I look forward to reading one of your stories when they're published!

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    1. Thank you Jan! I had forgotten you were a Kansas girl. The worst hurdles are the ones that hit you blindside. Hoping none of those are in your path. And thanks for your "when!"

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  41. HA!! I love that Jan said WHEN not IF.

    Your WHEN is coming, Cindy!!! WOO HOOO!!!

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    1. I think I'll still go with when/if but Seekerville is building my confidence today!
      (Tina, you always do that!)

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  42. Great post, Cindy! You speak the truth. It's hard but worthwhile to venture out from our comfort zones.

    I'm both a reader and writer and would love to be entered in both drawings but if I can only enter one I think the writer drawing would be my choice. I'm also a notebook loving woman.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

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    1. Few people understand the love affair writers have with notebooks - right Phyllis? And of course, all of us writers are readers. What could it hurt to put your name in both? Thanks for stopping by Seekerville today

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  43. Hi Cindy, it's fun to see you here as host, congrats on that! I loved your comfort zone story.

    I don't think I've ever heard anyone say they stepped out of their comfort zone and had terrible results and were sorry they did it, so why do we fear stepping out so much?

    I am an introvert and hate public speaking with a passion. I once shared with one of my pastors one-on-one a testimony on how one of my kids found the Lord. He loved it so much he asked me to share it with the congregation. At that time I was going to a large church and that service easily had over 1,000 people in it. I wanted to share what God had done, but was beyond nervous. Then I very clearly heard God say this wasn't about me, it was about Him and for His glory. So I did it, along with a few other moms, and wow, the response was unbelievable. I still dislike public speaking (I see myself more as behind the scenes support) but I've had to speak publicly a few more times since then and even though I didn't hear God encouraging me, I still recalled what He said the other time and I smile and go on and do what I have to do, because it's not about me.

    Just wondering, is there any more room in that hermit village that seems to be forming? lol

    I'd love to win a Seeker book. I'd pick Pam Hillman's newest The Promise of Breeze Hill. Thanks for the giveaway and thanks for sharing your story, very inspiring, especially for us introverted comfort zone-loving hermit types!

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    1. Tracey - your application for membership in the hermit club has been accepted. We spend a lot of time avoiding each other and not talking. I love your story about the public speaking. You know, this whole writing thing applies to that. It's not about us. We're not writing for personal fame or glory but for that of our Lord. Keeping that at the forefront can save us a lot of personal anguish over things like entering a contest or submitting to an editor. Thanks so much - and Pam's book is great!


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  44. I am like the majority of people who get comfortable and hate to venture into unknown territory. I had been a stay-at-home wife and mother for 23 years when I saw a job opening for a one day per week job at our public library. We were farmers and could use the money but I truly enjoyed the way my life was. I did apply and I was hired. Each year, another day was added and then, after three years, I was offered a full-time position. We were still farming, I was still helping milk our cows and this was a big decision. Long story short, I accepted, became the full time cataloger and Adult Services librarian and I learned and did things I never thought possible. Speaking to groups of people, promoting our library and hopefully, I made a difference.
    I would love to be entered to win the Amazon gift card and I really would enjoy reading your stories about the women of the Bible.
    Thank you and Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. What a great story Connie. Don't you love it when God surprises us with what we can do through Him? Working in a library sounds kind of like a dream job to me. Surrounding by books all day - what more could a girl want? You are in the drawing.

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  45. This is a great post, Cindy, and one I really need. Like many have said here today, I also love my comfort zone. I don't like to leave it. My job as a substitute teacher is one example of when I have left my comfort zone. I really didn't want to, but there isn't a better paying job for part time work. I have further moved out of my comfort zone by taking certain sub jobs I didn't think I wanted to take.

    As for writing, getting involved with Seekerville by stating that I am a writer was a bit out of my comfort zone because it has forced me to acknowledge that and move forward with it. It is much easier to just hide inside yourself and not tell anybody about it.

    Please put me in the drawing for the writer's prize.

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    1. You're ahead of me Sandy. I still haven't publicly acknowledged I'm a writer. It's just too scary. I will admit to writing - and doing a lot of it - but being a writer? Guess I'll have to work on that one. Seekerville is a wonderful place for those of "writers" that haven't actually become published authors yet. YET.

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  46. Cindy, I just love this post! Thanks for sharing how you've ventured outside your cozy safe territory! I also love the choice you've made to rejoice instead of lament concerning publication...I'm joining you in rejoicing in all I've learned, even if it hasn't resulted in a contract!

    My sweet husband teased me about being a Tigger...I'm always jumping into something and then quickly deciding "Tiggers don't really like..." (4-wheeling down wilderness trails, spelunking, kissing sting rays...etc).

    In my writing life I first moved outside my insulated zone when I ask a published writing friend for a critique of my first chapter. When she returned it, I cried and cried and wondered if I should even continue...but then, as they say, I put on my big girl panties and carried on!!

    I'd love to be entered in the drawing. I would have picked your book, Women of the Bible. I am fascinated by those kind of stories. Since you're graciously giving this away with the other prize, I would be happy with either of the other ones. Thanks so much!!

    Can't wait for the day I can purchase one of your books!!



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    1. Aw Kate - thanks for the kind words. I know what you mean. I always cry over critiques. When the tears are all shed, I put on a thicker layer of skin and ask for another. Tiggers don't like critiques - but we keep doing them anyway. btw, an interesting fact: nobody wants to be my critique partner because I'm too nice. Not often you hear that one, huh? You are in the drawing and thanks so much for your "when."

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  47. Cindy, this is great... be brave and step outside your comfort zone.

    That meme showing our comfort zone and where the magic happens is very important.

    The first step is to get those two circles closer together, then to touch, then to intersect. As we do things more and more out of our comfort zone, the more those circles line up... just like the eclipse! :)

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    1. Pam- thank you! The eclipse is a perfect analogy. I saw a meme of the two circles intersecting and 'awkward' was written in the intersecting portions. You know what? I'd rather be awkward than not touching. Thanks to you and all the Seekers for all you do to help us get rid of awkward and make the magic happen!

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  48. Cindy, that is such a fun story about your short stories about women from the Bible! Isn't it wonderful to think words you wrote can affect someone else's life in a positive way. Congratulations!

    These sentences are inspiring: "Sure, I’ve had my share of rejections and red ink, but a rejection doesn’t mean I have failed. Not writing the piece in the first place is failure." Your enthusiasm is contagious, and is exactly what I needed to hear today.

    Thank you!

    Nancy C

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    1. Hi Nancy. I know - isn't stuff like that fun? At first I couldn't even believe people would want to read something I wrote, but then to know it touched them in a special way - that's totally God at work. Glad you found some words of inspiration. I know I have from all the commenters today.

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  49. A step-outside-my-comfort zone story. After heavy nagging ... uh, prodding .... from a friend, I agreed to head up a 13-county canned food drive. Guess what. There were so many people who helped, so many generous people who gave time, so many people who stepped up because this was something they knew would directly help others. I learned two valuable lessons. One was that I could do something like that. But the more important lesson was there are always others willing to help me when I take that step outside my comfort zone.

    You understand it's still not easy to step outside whatever is my newest comfort zone :-)

    Nancy C

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  50. Cindy, just in case we miss each other as I bring in the evening respite to Seekerville. Thank you for being here and spending the day with us...and stepping outside of your comfort zone. hehehe

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  51. Cindy, I'm so sorry I'm late getting here today!! I absolutely love this post! And I think my new favorite quote is "Every obstacle overcome is one less in your path." I am going to post it on the board in my classroom tomorrow so my students can benefit from your wise words, too.

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  52. Cindy, I'm late and squealing in. This was a fantastic post! Getting out of my comfort zone is so hard. The introvert in me begs to be left there. Thank you for the encouragement to go beyond :)

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  53. I'm totally late arriving here today, Cindy, but oh!...how your post blessed me. I'm going to take your advice to heart and apply it. Well done!

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  54. Cindy, I'm also a late arrival today (doctor appointments, etc.) so am just now catching up on my computer. But still wanted to say your post is AWESOME!! This is going into my Keeper File to re-read over and over, because I tend to want to stay huddled in my comfort zone (surrounded by all my kitties, of course!). ;)
    Thanks SO much for sharing your wisdom with us.
    Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo :)

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  55. Cindy, thank you so much for a great post on stepping out of your comfort zone. I remember the first time I went to a local writing chapter program. Until I talked to someone and heard about plotting and story, I was concerned and outside my comfort zone but moving a lot as a kid helped and so did finding other people who want to talk about writing. Thanks for your post.

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  56. For stepping out of my comfort zone, I would have to not that me going to my first writer's group meeting, which was a meeting of romance writers, was stepping out of my comfort zone.

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  57. Cindy, sorry I'm so late today, but I love love love this post! Submitting to big publishing houses is way outside my comfort zone. I see their authors and think what ever made me think they'd like my writing. I'll have to run through that hurdle soon.

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  58. Stepping out of your comfort zone can certainly be scary. I decided to do that when I started 2 home businesses. Jamison Editing and Lighthouse Fitness (my Beachbody team). Some days are more difficult than others, but the rewards from both jobs have been incalculable. I am very blessed & I love helping others to reach their goals: whether it's publishing their manuscript or overcoming a fitness or nutrition challenge.

    Thanks for the encouraging post today!

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  59. Hi Cindy:

    I'm late getting back but I just wanted to add that you have a very eclectic selection of women in the bible stories. I particularly like it when a story is about a woman of whom the Bible is mostly silent. This gives the author the widest opportunity to explore themes from the times which can more robustly fill in historical facts that often are not covered when the character is more fully dealt with in the bible.

    I hope that in the future, if the spirit moves you to write more "women of the bible" stories, that you'll come back and let us all know about it.

    I even have a suggestion for a new addition: the wife of Joseph of Arimathea (I'm not sure he even had a wife but there are several amazing amount legends about him that have intrigued bible scholars for over 2,000 years -- particularly in the middle ages.)

    Please put me in the drawing for your "Women in the Bible" book.

    Vince

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  60. Cindy,

    What a great post! This past year has been one huge exercise in stepping outside of my comfort zone and I love it! (In a thrilling-but-terrifying kind of way.) I love what you said about "writing like nobody's reading it." So true! Here's to continuing to push ourselves.

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  61. I stepped out of my comfort zone.. My husband and I now babysit our now 5 month old twin grandchildren 4 full days a week.. Going from the quiet, do whatever days to full time babysitter x 2 was quite a change. Loving it though :)
    I am a reader but all of your prizes are wonderful!

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