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What Is Grace To You? A Blogging Challenge

Grace.

What does that word mean to you?

For some, like me, it can mean something deeply spiritual. For others, it can be used to describe a beautiful ballet. For others, the attitude or character of a person. It’s truly amazing how so many people can have different interpretations, and stories, relating to one word. And this coming month, I want us to explore this subject, and this question, together.

For example, for me, grace is simply about the concept that all of us are enough – just as we are. That we are unconditionally loved, accepted and forgiven by God, just as we are. That our value doesn’t come from what we do, from our relationships, work, status, wealth, position or anything else – but from God. And He loves and accepts us just as we are. I explore and unpack my own reflections on grace in my upcoming book,  Mosaic Of Grace: God’s Beautiful Reshaping Of Our Broken Lives’, which releases Feb 13 and is available to pre-order here.

And so, with this in mind, I felt it would be great to explore what grace means to each and every one of us. To hear people’s interpretations and experiences of grace, and share those with others.

As a writing coach and someone who wants to help writers grow and find their voice, I struck upon an idea which could both explore grace, and help you grow as a writer. A grace blogging/writing challenge.

Each month I run a writers challenge, helping people to build up a daily writers habit. As part of this, I send out daily writing prompts around a theme for a week, then weekly prompts for the rest of the month. So, this month, I figured it might be good to explore the concept of grace.

So, if you sign up for the challenge in the form below, you’ll get some e-mails this week with some writing prompts on the subject of grace. If you already signed up for a previous challenge – then you don’t need to do a thing, you’ll get those e-mails beginning this week!

But this month, to add to the writers challenge, I wanted to invite you to participate in a blogging challenge. If you’re a blogger, of any level, I’d like to invite you to write and publish a blog post this week – answering the question:

What does grace mean to me?

The answer to this can be anything. No wrong answers. Whatever that word means to you, write it down in a blog post, share it on social media with the hashtag #MosaicOfGrace and then share the link in the comments below.

If you’ve already written a blog post on grace, that counts too – so tweet and share the link to that post – I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

One thing I’d ask to you to do as part of the challenge, is to read others posts, and comment on them – so we can all support each others writing. I’ll share links and a brief intro to the best of them in a future blog post.

So if you’re interested, sign up for the challenge in the form below, and then when you’ve written your post, put the link in the comments. I can’t wait to read your thoughts on this important subject. Grace is something I’m really passionate about – so let’s explore this subject together.

Are you with me?

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Mosaic Of Grace releases on Feb 13 – pre-order your copy here!

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Picture Source: James Prescott via Canva

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Poema 004 : Kyle Strobel on Harry Potter & The Christian Way Of Power

Today, theologian and author Kyle Strobel joins me to talk about the challenging topic of what true wisdom is, and Christianity in relation to the concept of power – and how this has been misunderstood and abused, and what Harry Potter can teach us about Jesus and Christ-like wisdom.

Kyle and his colleague Jamin Goggin have interviewed some of the oldest and wisest prominent Christian leaders and learned a lot about what true Christ-like wisdom is. We discuss how, in fact, the way of Jesus is about surrender, about giving up power, not claiming more and more.

Kyle and I also talk about the myth of Christian celebrity, and Kyle shares the powerful metaphor of Harry Potter, and how his story is a metaphor for this in many ways, and what the story of Harry Potter has to say to our own spiritual journeys.

This is a fascinating insight into important issues of Christian power, wisdom and surrender, many of which are rarely discussed today – and Kyle has great wisdom on the topic. Definitely worth a listen!

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Kyle’s new book ‘The Way Of The Dragon Or The Way of the Lamb’, which explores this topic in much more depth, releases Jan 25.

Book Lessons 2: Why You’ve Gotta Do The Work

The journey to my first trade book ‘Mosaic Of Grace’ being written and published, began in 2012. I was at the time, building a new friendship, with a fellow writer and poet, Joy – who is now a dear friend of mine. One topic which came up often in our conversation was grace. I’d been reflecting on it a lot, hearing a few sermons on the subject, and Joy had written much poetry around the subject.

It began to dawn on me that this subject desperately needed more exploration, that we needed more people talking about this subject. And as I reflected on the topic more, some more ideas came to my mind, different aspects of the topic of grace, which I wanted to explore.

So in the next 8 months or so I began to plan, and then write, the first draft of ‘Mosaic Of Grace’. By August 2013, the draft was done.

And then nothing. I had no book contract. I had no money to self publish. I knew no one in publishing. I sent the draft to some beta readers, and proofreaders I knew and made some changes to the initial draft. I even managed to get someone to endorse it. read more…

Poema 003: Shane Claiborne On Executing Grace & The End Of The Death Penalty

The inspiring author, speaker and activist Shane Claiborne joins me today. He talks about his most recent work in campaigning for the end of the death penalty in the US.

Shane passionately and with great wisdom shares about how the death penalty is about more issues than justice – it’s about race, equality, restorative justice and, above all, about grace.

He shares some moving testimonies of people on death row, and argues that as Christians we are called to believe that no one, not even murderers, are beyond redemption, and for an approach to justice which begins with grace, with mercy – and beginning to see all people as God sees them.

This is one of the most inspiring interviews I’ve ever done – and whether you’re Christian or not, this will challenge, encourage and inspire you.

Quotes:

“The death penalty has survived not despite Christians but because of us. The Bible belt is the death belt.”

“We live in a world where violence is pervasive, we’ve created this myth of redemptive violence, this myth we can fight violence with violence. Violence is the problem, not the solution. The disease, not the cure”

“Support for the death penalty has hit historic lows”

“Jesus was an executed, forgiving victim of tremendous violence, who died with grace on His lips, saying ‘Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing’. That should change us.”

“God is more concerned with healing than He is with punishment”

“We can’t hold the cross with one hand and a weapon with the other”

Poema 002: Max Strom on Healthy Breathing & Why There Is No App For Happiness

For my first Poema interview I’m delighted to welcome Max Strom. Max is an author of several books, including ‘A Life Worth Breathing’ and ‘There Is No App For Happiness’. Max speaks and trains people all over the world around these topics, and has also spoken at TED.

Max is passionate about us all having a holistic, healthier rhythm to life, and teaches healthy breathing exercises and routines, including some yoga-based exercises.

Max and I talk about what a healthy breathing pattern really looks like, how anxiety can be directly linked to grief, and also touch on the damage our culture’s addiction to social media can do to our personal well-being.

Max has great wisdom and provides some genuine, healthier alternatives to the rhythms we often choose live by and consumerism can pressurise us to follow, refreshing alternatives which can help us all lead a healthier life, inside and out.

Poema 001: What Is Poema?

Today ‘James Talks’ relaunches as the ‘Poema Podcast’. This week we have three episodes – today, tomorrow and Thursday. The others will have very special guests, today’s is the first of some reflective episodes – all of these will be hosted and curated by me, James Prescott.

In this first episode, I’ll be talking about the changes to the podcast, and what we’ll be doing in this first season of the ‘Poema Podcast’. I also explore what this word ‘Poema’ really means, its roots in scripture, and how it’s fundamental to us exploring our identity, finding our calling, and stepping out in faith to create the life God intended us to live.

I unpack the idea that we’re all God’s masterpiece, our lives are works of art – and share how if we root ourselves in grace, we can be liberated to create the life God always wanted for us – and ultimately, help create a better world.

Book Lessons 1: Why Dreams Come True, Not Free

Today I begin a short series on my blog, on the story, experiences and lessons I’m learning from the process of writing and publishing my first trade book, ‘Mosaic Of Grace’, which releases Feb 13. Today I begin with the core, basic lesson I learned – about the reality of dreams come true.

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Not all of us may have had our wildest dreams come true, but many of us will have experienced something we desired for a long time becoming a reality.

A job. A relationship. Becoming a parent.

Or, for me, having a book published.

Right now, I’m building a team to launch my first trade book, (you can join the team yourself here) I’m working with marketing people and my publisher. I’m having to promote the book and it’s message.

It’s a dream come true, but it’s not like how I imagined. What I’ve found, is that the actual process of promoting and launching the book and its message is not just a process to help the book. In fact, it’s not even about the book at all.

No, this process is about my own growth. read more…

5 Steps To A Daily Writing Habit In 2017 (& An Opportunity For Free Accountability)

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How we begin something has a direct impact on the outcome. Think about it. When you wake up, and how you begin the day impacts what the rest of the day looks like. If I get up and immediately hurt myself, or something intrudes on my routine, that sets the tone for a bad day. When I was commuting, if I was up late, then I’d end up missing my bus, my train, and the result would be arriving at work late.

How we choose to begin anything will ultimately impact the outcome.

So as a new year dawns, it marks a great opportunity to begin again. Which in writing terms, means finally getting around to managing a daily writing habit.

Honestly, I’ve been a writer for over a decade and I still struggle with this. No matter how far we are on the writing journey, we all need support (you can tweet that).

So here’s 5 practical steps you can take today to build that writing habit – and an opportunity to get the support you need.

Firstly, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You don’t have to write 1000 words a day, and you don’t have to spend an hour each day writing. You can spend 5 minutes writing 100 words if you like. Just give yourself five minutes each day to write, and begin with that. It can make all the difference.

Second, find a regular space to write. We can train our brains to associate a specific space or place with a specific activity. So find a place where you can spend a little time writing each day and write there. It can be anywhere. I used to write on the train to work, using my phone, and that was my regular writing space. So it can be your bedroom, trip to work, lounge, desk, kitchen, a coffee shop, anywhere.

Third, find a regular time to write and commit to that time. We all work differently and have different schedules, so all of us will work best at different times. For me, around 10am is the best time to write, or possibly late at night. Yours may be totally different. So figure out what time works best for you, and commit to writing at that time each day.

Fourth, take a writing sabbath. Take a break from writing one day each week. I know this seems counter intuitive to getting a daily writing habit going, but it will actually benefit your habit. It will give you breathing space, one day each week, to lay it down, take the pressure of yourself, not worry about writing, and get healthy perspective. Then you can come back the next day with fresh eyes, and more clarity and motivation.

Fifth, get some accountability. We all work better in community. So having a group of people who can encourage you if you’re struggling, offer healthy feedback, and keep you accountable for your habit, can be crucial to maintaining a writing habit.

And it’s here I want to help you.

A Chance For FREE Accountability

I need this accountability and support as much as you, so want to invite you to join me in a daily writing challenge for 2017.

This will essentially be a group of people committed to writing 6 days a week through 2017. If you sign up, then in I’ll send out writing prompts on a particular theme the first week of each month and then for the rest of the month, weekly writing tips. The first one begins next Monday 9th January.

You’ll also get access to a writing community on Facebook to give you the accountability you need, and where you can interact with me and other writers. And there’ll be other opportunities for you to develop your writing gift and find your voice.

This is a great, free opportunity for you to get into a daily writing habit and find your voice in 2017, and I’d love you to be involved. So fill in the form below and sign up, and you’ll get an e-mail with more info and a couple of freebies to get you started.

Let’s make 2017 a year where we find our writing voice and get the writing habit we’ve always wanted. Come and join me on this journey today!

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Picture Source: Morguefile

Words For The Broken This Holiday Season (Guest Post by Jim Woods)

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So we’re just a week away from Christmas.

And your life looks more like the Griswolds than a picture perfect Christmas card.

You’re broken. You’re lonely. You’re stressed out.

And somehow your to-do list keeps growing.

You’re behind and you don’t know if you’ll ever catch up.

There’s more presents to buy, parties to attend, and things to do.

Or maybe you weren’t invited to any parties.

Maybe your loved ones have passed on.

Maybe your loved ones are hundreds or thousands of miles away. And now you just want to push the fast-forward button and skip over the holiday season altogether.

Those other people who are so happy make the rest of us feel worse, right?

Please know it’s alright to feel the way you feel. We’re all messed up–even those who act like they aren’t.

So it is okay to feel lonely, let down, and broken.

It’s okay that half the Christmas songs you hear make you want to stuff your ears full of cotton. It’s okay to feel like you want to wrap up in a ball and sleep until January.

You’re not alone. You may feel like you are, but you’re not.

Millions of people feel the same way you do.

Millions of people are just longing for some rest from the hustle and bustle. Some peace and the sense of belonging.

Again, just know you’re not alone. And when you’re not alone, you’ve got hope.

If there is just one message you hear this holiday season, I pray it is these six words:

You belong. You’re loved. You matter.

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(Picture Source: AlchemillaMollis via Pixabay – used by permission).

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Jim Woods is a writer and productivity coach passionate about helping others live a better story. He’s the co-author of two books Ready Aim Fire! and Focus Booster. He is also the editor at Productivityist. You can visit Jim’s website here. You can connect with him on Twitter at @jimwoodswrites.

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Join My Book Launch Team & Be Part Of A Movement Of Grace

Many of you will know I’ve been talking about my upcoming first trade book for a while. Well, we finally have a release date – and today, there’s an opportunity for you to be involved in the launch of this book, and even more, the beginning of a movement.

The world we live in, is, right now, a world of fear and division. Political and cultural events, especially in the last year, have made people afraid. And we live in a consumer world, where merit and value is earned, not given. Even religion today uses the language of merit as a basis for our belonging.

And this has never sat right with me. I knew there had to be an alternative, and that the way of Jesus wasn’t grounded on merit.

Surely it was grounded in something else. And that’s when I began to explore the concept of grace.

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