The Call to Speak, Part 1 – A Toast to the Lord

I recently took a bold step forward on my journey toward Spain.  It started six months ago as I was preparing for the release of my book, Journeys to Mother Love.  I spoke at my Open House and shared with the attendees the desires that God placed on my heart to share my story in bigger ways—beyond the book.  I felt God calling me to publicly speak.  The speaking wasn’t just in what you’d consider normal ministry settings, but it was to speak in Spain.

Qualified to Speak?

I’ve been at ease in front of a podium for many years as my responsibilities in my secular jobs included leading large meetings, training employees and supervising staff.  But I didn’t start out that way.  I had fear and insecurity about my ability to speak in those settings.  In time those fears subsided as I became more comfortable in my positions with those companies.  Quite frankly, I was pretty self-sufficient in those days too, not really seeking God’s help, just doing it on my own—without any formal training.

MicrophoneWhen I started serving in ministry, I had to put aside my self-sufficiency and start relying on God.  I overcame my doubts and thinking I was unqualified and unworthy to lead others in their spiritual growth.  As I stepped out of my comfort zone, He reassured me and gave me increasingly bigger opportunities to point people to Him.  But speaking in a foreign country, where I don’t even know the language?  That feels a bit unbelievable to me at times.  I know that God is going before me though, so I continue to trust that He has the venues lining up in the spiritual realms.

My part in all of this is to write the speeches, build my speaking skills and practice in front of a live audience.  With less than four months before I arrive in Spain, I knew I needed to ramp up my speaking skills quickly.  The best way to do that is in the safety of a group of fellow speaking enthusiasts, the Toastmasters.

Confirmation to Speak

Over the last several months, I’ve received repeated confirmations to pursue speaking in Spain as several Spanish contacts have started to cross my path.  The most recent of those was when I looked into joining a Toastmasters group that was forming in my hometown.  It isn’t a normal Toastmasters club, but is a Christian club known as “A Toast to the Lord”.

ToastmastersI first heard about Toastmasters several years ago when a staff member told me about their participation in a group meeting over lunch.  I declined his invitation then, but it must’ve struck a chord with me at some level to remember it all these years later.  Then last summer when I started to work on my branding and platform, my publishing coach, Athena Dean from Book Jolt, recommended that I join Toastmasters.  When I found out that by joining this group I would also be welcomed to speak at Toastmasters clubs in Spain, I eagerly began working on my first speech and joined the club.

The first speech in the training program is the icebreaker.  In less than a day, I wrote the speech, rehearsed it, recorded it and listened to it several times—no nervousness or anxiety.  I took that as a good sign that the story is becoming more integrated into my life.  On the way to the meeting I prayed for confirmation of these next steps on my journey.

One of the benefits of belonging to a Toastmaster’s club are the evaluations received by other Toastmasters.  The written evaluations were definitely confirmation of my next steps as they were full of adjectives that encouraged me to share this inspiring and emotional story.  I won’t share them here, lest you think I am boasting.  As the title of my blog indicates though, He is Making Me Bold.  Any boasting that I do is out of my love for the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).  Now with my new role as a Toastmaster, I can boast and toast to the Lord at the same time.

Habla Espanol¿Habla Español?

What about not knowing the language?  I’m focusing my speaking engagements on English speaking venues or those with translators available.  If necessary, I know I can rely on Pedro or Rosa to translate as well.   I’ll also cram in a Spanish refresher course before I step on the plane in June.

Do I still question my qualifications to speak in Spain?  From time to time I do hear that little voice in my head trying to tell me I won’t be ready or that this is all a crazy dream.  But to keep me humble and leaning on Him, I like to recall something I heard when I first started serving in ministry: “God doesn’t call the qualifed, He qualifies the called”.

So while I’m still on American soil, Toastmasters is my next step of obedience as I become more equipped and qualifed to speak in Spain and beyond.  I’m proud to share the microphone, podium, stage or stump with Him.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the series to read my speech and evaluate it for yourselves.

For an Audience of One

I’ve been blogging for over a year now.  It’s not such a big feat, but for me it was the next step I needed to take to flex my writing muscle.  Just when I think I’m finding my voice and feeling more comfortable with my writing, I find myself getting caught up in what others think or what a blog is “supposed” to look like.  Self-doubt can creep in so insidiously.

The truth is that most people don’t follow any hard and fast rules to blogging—unless they want to take their writing seriously.  In today’s publishing industry, blogging is a way to prove to potential publishers that you have a “following” or as Michael Hyatt calls it, a “tribe.”  A large tribe equates into potential book sales and that motivates a publisher to take note of your manuscript.  Of course good writing is also key to getting noticed.

So why am I mentioning this on my blog?  It’s because I feel stuck on how to continue blogging.  In the months preceding the publishing of my story in “Journeys to Mother Love,” I pursued getting a domain name and developing my website.  That was when I realized I needed to brand my name, my image, my site, etc.  I hired Athena Dean from Book Jolt, to help with that process.

When Athena asked me what my passion was and what I wanted to write about, my answer was easy.  I love hearing and seeing how God transforms lives when people learn to trust Him and embrace deep healing.  Evangelism isn’t my gift.  It’s facilitating spiritual growth and encouraging people to walk through their pain to the other side of wholeness.  So we brainstormed on taglines and came up with “Where Healing Turns to Hope”.  (Thank you Athena!  That was worth every penny.)

The only problem now is that I am second guessing if my writing is really conveying that message.  I love the exchange of deep spiritual insights and sharing struggles at a heart level.  I am not embarrassed to share my own painful struggles, doubts or neediness.  The question is how much to share on a public blog.

Don’t be tempted by the allure of an audience.

In finding my voice should I deliberately write for affect or strip my spiritual candor to potentially draw a tribe?  Should I always write deep introspective posts that align with my branding?  “Where Healing Turns to Hope” doesn’t have to imply deep spiritual revelation or intense healing.  It’s about being a light in my words and deeds so that others may see Jesus as the author of healing and hope.

My voice is one of thousands of bloggers who have been redeemed and restored to our true identity in Christ—not perfect, but embracing our brokenness and moving forward one day at a time.  When I start to question my voice, the size of my tribe, my “likes” on Facebook and such, I am letting my pride get the best of me and going against the heart transformation that Christ has done in me.

In my recent period of questioning and doubting the direction of my blog, the Lord has graciously reminded me that “He is enough for me.”  When I look to a tribe for validation of my writing, mistakenly defining that as “fruit”, He gently whispers that “I am the fruit” of His labor.  So with that kind of encouragement to continue blogging, I know that I am really blogging for an audience of One—and I’m very grateful for that.

The Barometer For Success

I am getting nervous.  In less than two weeks I will be an author when my first manuscript, “Walking My Mother Home”, is published.  What started as journaling and a strong desire to write after my mother passed away in February 2011 will be part of a real live book, Journeys to Mother Love, published by Cladach Publishing.

I am elated about this new venture.  I did my part, stepping out of my comfort zone to write this story and God has blessed it.  I’ve received positive feedback and encouragement from friends and family to pursue this dream.   Yet deep inside I am scared about what lies ahead on many different levels.

First of all, the story is very personal.  I wrote it from a place of deep pain.  I’ve been very protective with the manuscript and only shared it with a few people.  In fact, I didn’t even re-read it myself until after it was accepted.  And now I am nervous about telling my story.  It feels pretty vulnerable and risky.

Then there are the financial and promotional aspects of this venture.  I have invested a lot of my time and money into this project.  As a beginning author, I may be naive, but I’m hoping my personal sales from this book make enough money to cover the costs of my pilgrimage to Spain next summer so I can finally meet Rosa and write more of this story.

This all means I’ll need to personally promote the book and myself—build a platform, schedule speaking engagements, book signings, etc.  It’s been a large learning curve.  Thankfully, a friend recommended I consider working with a publishing coach.  I didn’t even know what that was.

Three weeks ago, I hired Athena Dean of Book Jolt, to help me with all of these decisions and the marketing.  These are all things I wouldn’t have imagined myself doing a year ago—and sometimes I’m still on the fence about all of this. Ultimately I do get to choose how much of this I end up doing though.

So as I prepare to launch my book, I am nervous about “success”.  I want the book to make money.  Like most authors, I really don’t want to promote myself.  I am stressed about all the things I still need to do to prepare for the launch.  I am trying to balance this with my other family commitments.

I’ve been pondering the words of a wise friend and mentor, Tamara J. Buchan, about this very subject.  She said, “Faithfulness to the Lord is the barometer of success.”  When I focus on success as being based on my faithfulness to the Lord, then I can release my stress and my desire to control the outcome. I have been faithful and that is what God rewards.  Maybe not how we want–financially, materially, etc., but with the kinds of treasures that really matter.  For me, that’s been
the relationships I’ve gained along the way.

I am nervous, but God has blessed me with amazing healing and is equipping me to take these next steps of obedience.  I am grateful to Him and feel called to share this regardless of how successful it may appear by the world’s standards.  I am gearing up to be faithful—and successful by God’s standards.

What’s your barometer for success?  How do you define it?

  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

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    Arrival on Spanish SoilApril 29th, 2018
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