Friday, March 31, 2017
You would not believe it! I hardly believe it. I am a child who was a reject in my school. No one wanted to be my friend, and yes, there was a sad day when my very last friend decided to turn away from me because it was not popular to be friends with the "four-eyed freak." I was under the care of a psychiatrist for facial ticks and anxiety from watching my mother attempt to kill herself, and then watching her leave my living room on a stretcher, followed by months of being taken away from my parents and begging for the day I would one day be reunited with them. I was finally picked up by my parents, but not too long after that my parents divorced and I lived with my mother as a wanderer, no real home, not at one place for long. I eventually went back to live with my father and my brother.
I'm a kid who got a second chance in life by having the opportunity - the privilege, not a right - to attend a Christian school in its infancy when I was in 5th grade, and later graduated from that same school. I taught myself how to play the piano in 7th grade because I wanted to do it so much and my dad couldn't afford for me to take lessons. I started playing the notes as 1-2-3-4-5 rather than C-D-E-F-G because that was all I knew, but then applied some of the things I learned in music class in school. Our beloved church pianist taught me a few basics to help get me started, and I practiced and practiced until I could finally play an offertory, messing up royally but improving and improving until I was accompanying special music groups and soloists. My dad was embarrassed for me to get up and play, but that only made me more determined to succeed. It wasn't long before he was proud of me.
I determined I was going to use my talents for the Lord. I am in awe over the opportunities that came my way, such as playing for specials and then for the congregational singing, and then later with a church band. I started writing songs in the 1990's, but put it aside when I had children. I've picked it up again now that they are grown, and I have published 45 songs. I teach music to 1st-8th graders, and believe it or not, I actually teach piano lessons now. I have played in a small orchestra. I helped arrange some of our band music and would sing with our group while simultaneously playing challenging parts on two keyboards. I create background accompaniment tracks for special music. I have played the piano in weddings, funerals, regularly in church, and in restaurants to do Christmas caroling, I've done some hymn sings in nursing homes, have brought the doctors, nurses and secretaries I work with, as well as my church family, to nursing homes and other venues to do Christmas caroling, I have been able to use this talent to work with choirs (both children and adults), I have sung and played the piano at Christian coffee houses, I've helped out other churches, I've played for school programs and kindergarten graduations, and now I have opportunities to play in my own living room for pleasure with my first ever full sized keyboard.
God has opened WIDE the gates of opportunities, and it's such a huge blessing to my soul. Here I am, not a wildly talented musician, but one who loves to serve, and has had blessings poured out onto me to do just that. I say this with humility, because honestly it is my availability and not my ability that stands out. There are so many singers and pianists that far exceed my actual talent, and yet God keeps giving me opportunity after opportunity to use it! I'm so happy!
I decided to write this post because I want to encourage you, whether young or old, to just use what the Lord has given you. Stop making excuses that you are not good enough. He doesn't care. He wants a good attitude, a servant's heart, and a humble spirit. Then just get out there and DO IT! You will be so entirely glad you did, and will feel like your life is sweet. I know that is how I feel right now, and I thank the Lord for it.
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
There is a post interview conversation I would like to add. This is not published anywhere except here on this blog. But I was asked the question later by Heather D. Nelson, who interviewed me: "Given how much you visited Tate Publishing's building...meeting the people face to face, shaking hands, even speaking with Ryan Tate directly, how do you think you missed the signs that the company wasn't legitimate? This is not a criticism of you, but I am curious as to how they presented themselves to you that made them appear more legitimate? This is versus the 'email and web only' interface so many of us had."
My reply: "That's what sold me is how sweet everyone was. I published books and albums through them. I loved having everything through one company. However, once I was so discouraged by my perceived lack of vocal talent that I was truly struggling about whether or not I should move on to do a second album that I really had on my heart to publish. One of the acquisition staff called me on her cell phone and talked to me about following my call, which she knew I had from talking with me in the past. She told me a testimony of an older woman who put out an album, a woman whom I will probably never hear of, but she used it to reach the elderly. Many souls were saved as a result of her songs and her ministry. She said that we cannot measure on this earth our success when we are doing the Lord's work; we'll only know in heaven. She said if she were just doing this for money, it wouldn't be worth it. It's the eternal value that really counts. That meant so much to me, and she was right. She was sincere, and I reminded her of our conversation when I saw her for a subsequent trip to Oklahoma, when I was recording my third album.
"When I went to Oklahoma, these were real people, pregnant people, kind people. They would hug me, greet me warmly, and made me feel special. They gave my daughters and I a tour. They let me take my picture with them. They talked of the Lord, and I really believe they were sincere. I had trouble with some of my books with editing, printing problems, etc. but in the end they always did right by me. I changed my mind about the pictures and cover for my Christmas book AFTER it was released, and they gave me a good deal, saving me a lot of money compared to what the contract said it would cost me to redo them. They sent me the wrong books after I placed my order, but allowed me to keep them, so I gave a Christmas Love book to the children at our local children's hospital on Christmas eve. I put a label inside each one wishing them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from me and also from Tate Publishing.
"I think a lot of problems occurred when they decided to go overseas, as there was a disconnect with our marketing directors and author representatives. Every time I went they had fewer and fewer employees stateside. Customer service was really great in 2012 when I first signed on. I saw complaints on the internet, but they had an A+ from the Better Business Bureau, and I had seen first hand that they were such nice people. I loved the staff page that had their pictures on it. I felt connected.
"I was happy with my products, and that I had so much say and owned the rights to my books and albums. They believed in me, and gave me a chance that traditional publishers would not give. It opened up opportunities for me to minister that would have never been possible otherwise. I had audio books, book trailers, music videos, a website, hard copy books and albums, and I was making blogs and video journals of my songs. I was speaking and singing my songs at various places, attending fairs and festivals around the state as an author/singer/songwriter, developing an online presence, going to stores and restaurants for book signings, etc. This was an exciting time!
"Then when we recorded the music videos and did the photo shoots, I had such a blast! I also loved getting a tour of the printing area. It was legit! They had a section for the CD's, and the books had several machines, and they had a new one, too. I got to see the whole process. The shipping people were sweet, and everyone seemed dedicated to their jobs. I saw the behind the scenes. They were a good sized publisher. I believed in THEM, so it was easy to overlook a lot of the other problems.
"I believed they would eventually improve their customer service, and hopefully their accounting inaccuracies, once they came stateside, which I believed would happen if Donald Trump became president. He promised to help small businesses, and encourage employment in the U.S.A. I saw Ryan Tate on Fox News, so I knew he cared about his company and the financial burdens to small businesses under the Obama Administration. And sure enough, after President Trump was in office, I received an email that they were coming stateside. Unfortunately, soon thereafter I received another notification that they were in transition, and that ended the communication with them.
"This whole experience was more meaningful to me for other reasons as well. They were making my dreams come true, and these trips with my daughters were very special to me, especially during a tough time in my life. I will miss visiting Tate Publishing and Tate Music Group. My heart truly breaks for all those affected by this closing of what I believe was once a great publishing company, with both book and album publishing capabilities. But in speaking with other Tate Publishing authors, there was dishonesty there, and unfortunately a large collective loss of money due the hard working, dreamy-eyed authors like myself who were called by God to write and minister grace and help to our readers and listeners."
To read more articles and more author interviews by Heather D. Nelson, see her website at www.heatherdnelson.com.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Friday, March 24, 2017
Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Friday, March 10, 2017
Did you know that your body is the dwelling place of your soul? It is also the temple of the Holy Spirit when you know Jesus as your Savior. It truly is something that we ought to take good care of. Join me as I read the chapter in my I Will Stand book on taking care of your body.
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Sunday, March 5, 2017
Get your FREE copy of Hidden Secrets
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
I wrote a short story that will tantalize the love of mystery and suspense in your child/teen. It's a 32 page small book (22 pages if buying the ebook, as it has a bigger page size), something that 2nd-8th graders will enjoy. Available in ebook or paperback. eBook ($1.99) paperback ($6.99)
Check out Hidden Secrets eBook
Check out Hidden Secrets paperback
I wanted to share my advice for female teens and tweens, as they enter the challenging yet wonderful years ahead. It is not just physical changes that occur in young people, but social and psychological changes as well. Neurologically, the brain is not even fully developed until the 20's, so that explains a lot! Here is my advice:
- Try to be friends with everyone. No romantic relationships are needed until college, or after you have completed your education, if the relationships are a distraction. College is usually when you will meet someone meaningful, you will have a better idea of who you are and who would be a better companion for you, and you are around of a lot of choices so you can have a better chance of finding the right match.
- Make a list now of how you see yourself in 5 years, in 10 years, what kind of job you think you might want someday, how many children (if any), what kind of house you want to live in, etc. Keep your eyes focused on the goals you have set for yourself, knowing they can change, but keep them real and healthy.
- Romantic relationships can cause a lot competition, insecurities, fights, etc. If you plan on just being friends with everyone, going to youth group activities and other things that are safe, you will avoid all that aggravation. Why make life harder on yourself than is necessary?
- Remember that your self image is very heightened during the teen years. Celebrate your uniqueness and differences, knowing you are a special creation by God. Make it a rule for yourself that you will not make fun of others for things they cannot change, such as a large nose, and if there is something that someone can change and might not be aware of it, such as foul body odor, tell them gently in private, and don’t talk about it behind their backs. You will have true friends when you are a good friend, and your peers can trust you. Doesn’t the world need more people like that? Be that one.
- Remember that you are going through hormonal changes, your appearance with acne and things like body odor, body hair, weight gain, larger hips are all part of maturing. Those are supposed to happen. You will have a little more abdominal thickness to prepare you for later pregnancy, and that’s why your hips expand. Please don’t look at this as a negative. You will be changing into a woman, and that’s wonderful.
- God will never desire for you to live immorally, or leave you helpless to fight off temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). You CAN make healthy and wise choices for yourself and many do. You are capable of making good decisions. Just because sources like television and magazines try to paint a bleak picture, know that in reality while temptation will come, I guarantee it, you can stay focused on better options in the area of purity.
- Respect yourself and others. Purity is like fruit behind the glass. When people go to an open market and handle the fruit, bruising it, etc., it’s not as good as juicy grapes behind a glass that are cool, clean, and untouched, for example.
- Be modest; you make a statement by your clothing choices, so make sure that is the statement of a wise and healthy young lady. You can dress stylish and be modest. Adults and even your peers will respect you for it. Just don’t flaunt or make others feel bad for not measuring up to you; be humble, and people will be attracted to the beauty inside of you.
- Never, ever get bad grades on purpose for fear of not fitting in. Those same peers who make you feel like a “geek” or a “loser” for getting good grades may end up improving in their grades and leaving you behind while you struggle to get them back up. Be smart, and feel good about all your hard work. It will pay off when you’re admitted to your college of choice, or getting the career you dreamed of. Don’t allow those peers who make fun of you to be authoritative in your life; they cannot diminish your value.
- Keep open communication with your parents, and find other adults you can trust to ask questions, such as teachers, coaches, youth pastors, a friend’s parent, etc. Realize they have more life experience, and even if it doesn’t make sense to you now, or you can’t see the consequences or repercussions for your actions and choices, they have those insights. Be teachable and humble, and you will gain a lot of wisdom beyond your years. It’s a great thing for people to say that of you.
- Stay away from harmful substances, as you are more likely to not overcome addiction if starting during adolescence. Preserve your body; you are going to need it for many years. And teens do die; don’t think you are made of rubber. Prevent bad things as best as you can by being smart in your choices. Some people never grow out of immaturity, and they think the teen years are meant for partying rather than accomplishment. Have good, clean fun, but don’t waste your life.
- Use your teen years to do hard things. Publish a book, learn to draw, learn to play an instrument, consider becoming an entrepreneur. Many great things in history were done by teens! Don’t waste these years ahead, but think smart and set yourself up for success. Get some experience by volunteering at nursing homes, children’s hospitals, or recovery rooms to bring families in or greet people. Volunteer at libraries to read to children, soup kitchens to pass out food and supplies, and when you’re a little older work with responsible adults in areas such as legal offices helping to file, physical therapists’s offices to help with towels and stocking, etc. Some of these places take high school students on a voluntary basis. If you like politics, volunteer at a campaign office. Form a blog that has positive inspirational messages for your peers, and get good discussions going. Have an adult you can consult with. Enter writing contests at libraries. Take a community art class or learn how to sew your own clothes, and perhaps see if your parents can help you sell them. Think big!
- Remember that things will settle out. Once you get to Tanner stage 5, you will physically be an adult, and your hormones won’t be so aggressive. The things you started as a teen will reward you now. Think of the teen years as preparatory time. What do you want to accomplish? Take steps in that direction and realize you don’t have to wait until you grow up to do great things and make a difference.
- While it is normal and God-given for you to start wanting to be independent of your parents, as that is the ultimate goal, do not isolate yourself from them. They have a responsibility to make sure they are aware of what is going on so they can protect you if needed. They should be allowing you to make more choices, and allow you to make some of your own mistakes, but remember that they are held accountable to God for how they raise you and to keep you safe, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. It’s a big job! Try to help them out. They are not your enemy, despite sometimes feeling like that. Make smart choices yourself so you don’t have to have anyone nagging at you. They will trust you, and that is something precious that you don’t want to lose.
- Last thought: neurological maturity has been found not to complete until you are in your 20’s, so try not to be too impulsive or short-sighted. Abstract reasoning will still be developing for a while, and realize that it’s okay that you don’t have all the answers. They will come. Get opinions from people you trust before making any serious decisions. Usually around 20-24 you can really see from your parent’s perspective, and you will realize how smart they really are.