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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Feeling Like Stretch Armstrong

The Web is full of admonitions to stretch before working out or engaging in any kind of exercise. Why? The plusses are many:

  • Stretching helps prevent injuries
  • It keeps your muscles in good working order
  • Tight muscles are less capable
  • It just makes you feel good
Plus, if you stretch first you’re less likely to have to listen to your wife laugh (under her breath, of course) while you’re on the chiropractor’s table.

And who hasn’t enjoyed a good shoulder stretch after hours of hammering away at the keyboard?

Writing stretches
Lately, I’ve been doing some serious stretching in my writing/editing life. Since September, I’ve been helping to launch a new print magazine for American Christian Fiction Writers, ACFW Journal.

We have a great team pulling this together (and we’re having a great time, too), but I am being stretched, particularly in the areas of organization and time management.

As the editor-in-chief of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, I’ve taken on some new responsibilities this year that have really been a blast, but which have also stretched me in ways that weren’t always comfortable.

We improved our popular Operation First Novel contest, providing entrants with feedback on their submissions for the first time and I took on the task of managing the blog content for the Guild—both stretching me, again, in the area of organization.

Since organization is definitely a weakness of mine (I don’t really even know how to use Excel, but I’m learning), this has all been a great experience. I think it will eventually lead to me learning how to better use my time—and finding the time to pick up my writing again.

Strength in weakness
In II Corinthians, Paul notes that he “will boast more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses … for when I am weak, then am I strong” (II Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV).

What about you? In what areas are you being stretched? What weaknesses are you being forced to face? And how will that both benefit you and further the cause of Christ?

Michael Ehret is the editor-in-chief for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. He has written for newspapers and other print and online outlets. He edited several nonfiction books, was the senior editor for a faith-based financial services and insurance organization, and is the editor of ACFW Journal, the magazine for American Christian Fiction Writers.


  1. Mike, you're one busy guy and doing so much for Christian fiction. Thanks for that. Stretching... hmm... I've been doing Bible Study International and we're going in depth through the book of Acts. So, spiritually, I've been stretched in new ways. A good thing, but forcing me to dig deeper into my relationship and understanding of Christ.

    My big challenge is starting and managing two teams. Some days it feels like my head is going to explode.

    Writing-wise I've depended very little on personal critiques of my work. In the past, I've relied heavily on my edit partners to go line by line through every word, depending on what they say as to how I proceed. The book I just turned in I only asked for a quick read through for story troubles. I'm leaning on myself more and trusting my self.

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  3. What a great post! I am definitely being stretched. God has blessed me with abilities in painting, photography and writing. The hard part is where to start and how to get extra income coming in. He provided our needs in a big way last month. : ) Now I can work in peace.

    My PC died last month. My husband and I agreed, I needed to upgrade to a Mac. So... I'm learning the Mac (it's all backwards from a PC! ). I had to upgrade software, so I need to re-learn the software... I blew a fuse and destroyed a light, with my beginner studio lights and realized they just weren't safe. So I had to get a more professional lighting kit. I can see God's hand in this. Everything that went wrong is making me get more professional. Sometimes it requires a fuse to blow!

    I've always doodled since I was a little girl. I write an inspirational blog about the Bible. I was reading the Bible one day and was so encouraged, I thought, "Everyone should know how awesome God's Word is!" Then I started longing for more than just text (or was that His longing?). So I started adding photos and paintings with verses on them. I also have a photography blog which is recommended by professional photographers. It helps people get to know you before hiring you.

    I review my blogs and sometimes feel embarrassed at my punctuation and grammar. Spell check is a gift from God Himself! But honestly blogging has helped me find my voice after writing code for several years. So all has worked out for good. I always plan to enter contests but never seem to get it done. I want to enter them this year. All of my work is improving daily (praise God).

    I finished up the New York Institute of Photography Professional Course last month. I just need to submit my final photos. Still need to find some of the shots. Lots of stretching, growing and hope. One day at a time. All I can do is trust God, pray and pick my priorities. then do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I've come a long way since I started all this 2 years ago. Time to go stretch out again : ) God bless!

  4. Gina, Bible Study International ... is that what used to be Bible Study Fellowship? I loved when I was in that...thanks for bringing it to my mind again. May have to look for one in Colorado Springs.

    I think that is a huge step ... depending upon yourself more than your crit partners. Not that they aren't vital--we both know the importance of them--but just having the confidence in your abilities.

    Kathy, wow. Wish I was so talented! But then I'd try to be balancing even more things. Sounds like you are stretching well, too. God bless!

  5. Oh, shoot, yeah, BSF, sorry. That's right. I recommend anyone and everyone find one (they're everywhere) and join. It's life changing!

  6. Thanks Michael, to be honest I never really saw how all this fit until I commented : ) Your post really helped me out here. I can connect all this together with children's books, magazine articles or maybe travel writing. Who knows? Maybe He'll guide me to do Sunday School materials.

  7. Gina, you're right about BSF - I enjoyed my ten years with them so much. A season of preparation for a lifetime of service!

    It was BSF that taught me the importance of taking on those situations where God was calling me to serve, whether I felt prepared or not - when He calls, He also equips.

    And stretches. What a great thought...being stretched into His image...

    Micheal, you are busy! Thank you for all you do!

    When will the ACFW Journal be launched? Can you tell a little more about it?

  8. Jan, I would love to tell you about ACFW Journal!

    The first issue will launch in April 2012 and it will be quarterly with an eye to making it every other month or even monthly if the interest is there.

    It is a benefit of membership in ACFW (all members will receive it free) and I am accepting queries for articles. The magazine will also accept advertising. See guidelines and ad rates at the link in the blog post.

    Thanks for asking!

  9. Great post, Mike. I'm begin stretched by you as my editor at the ACFW Journal, for one! :) But I'm also stretching myself over setting goals for daily word counts (or weekly). And I'm also a local syndicated blogger for an online newspaper. So my writing has broadened. Or something. LOL


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