October Reflections

Once again, we’re nearing the end of another month that flew by quickly. Though there are a few days of October left, I thought I’d go ahead and take a look back.

October is usually a quiet month, with no family birthdays (except my brother’s near the beginning) and no major holidays. I had completely forgotten about pumpkin carving/decorating with the family. We enjoyed doing that last weekend. And I had a couple of medical visits this month. On one hand, it’s nice to have those in a month where nothing else is going on–on the other hand it would have been nice to have a month without anything else on the calendar. But they have to be done some time.

We’ve really enjoyed the changing leaves and cooler temperatures. We’ve had a couple of early morning freezes, but otherwise, the weather has been quite comfortable. And the fall color is hanging on for a good while this year.

I haven’t quite known whether to mention it here, but we recently made the sad decision to leave our church. We love the people, and because of that tried to stay as long as we could. But we have some major differences in doctrine and emphases. We don’t consider each other heretics or anything like that. 🙂 The church was becoming incorporated and encouraging “official” membership, which we hadn’t had yet, since the church was just started a few years ago. Part of the pledge for church membership was promising to support the church’s teachings, and there were some we felt we couldn’t.

It’s a bit difficult to seek a new church, both in feeling “homeless” and in evaluating new places. As I said in Monday’s post, we know no church will tick every box. And churches with the same statement of faith can still vary widely in personality, emphasis, and secondary doctrines.


I didn’t make any cards this month, though I need to work on one in the next few days.


We seem to be the only people who enjoyed The Rings of Power, kind of a prequel to The Lord of the Rings.

We also enjoyed Red Tails, about an African American crew during WWII (warning: a smattering of bad language).


Since last time, I have finished (titles link to my reviews):

  • Always, Only Good: A Journey of Faith Through Mental Illness by Shelly Garlock Hamilton. Ron and Shelly Hamilton’s oldest son began experiencing mental illness in his teens, eventually taking his life in his early thirties. Shelly tells his story and offers encouragement to those whose loves ones walk the same path.
  • Women and Stress: A Practical Approach to Managing Tension by Jean Lush and Pam Vredevelt. I didn’t agree with every little point, but the authors provide a lot of great, practical tips.
  • Enchanted Isle by Melanie Dobson, fiction. A young American woman travels to the Lake District of England, where her mother had visited twenty years earlier. An unsolved disappearance from that era hangs over the reputation of a young man, and he and the young woman try to find out more. Very good.
  • The Hatmaker’s Heart by Carla Stewart, fiction. A talented hatmaker is both stifled and used by her employer. Meanwhile, the young man she thought she would marry is interested in someone else.
  • The Italian Ballerina by Kristy Cambron, fiction. After her grandfather’s death, Delaney Coleman hears from an Italian family claiming he had something that belongs to them. A trip to Rome and some old letters reveal a side of her grandfather that Delaney had never known–including an orphaned Jewish girl, a British ballerina, and “Syndrome K,” a fake illness manufactured to keep Nazi soldiers away from efforts to smuggle Jews to safety. Excellent. Will probably be one of my top ten books of the year.
  • The Search by Grace Livingston Hill, fiction. A society girl and an old friend going to war realize they are nor prepared for death, and they embark on a search for God.
  • A Daily Rate by Grace Livingston Hill, fiction. A single girl on her own for the first time wishes she could spruce up her depressing boarding house and help its inhabitants. When she receives an inheritance, she’s able to pursue her dreams. But the results aren’t always what she planned.

I’ve been going through 2 Chronicles in my devotional time. Warren Wiersbe combined his commentary on 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles in Be Distinct: Stand Firmly Against the World’s Tides, Since I just read and reviewed that book back in June when I went through 2 Kings, I just looked at the parts specifically dealing with Chronicles this time. Most people don’t think of Chronicles as one of the most exciting books of the Bible. But I really got a lot out of it this time. Between Wiersbe’s book and the ESV Study Bible notes, I think this may have been the first time I realized that Chronicles was not just a rehashing of Kings, but it was written when the Jewish exiles in Babylon were about to come back to Israel. It was meant to encourage and remind them that they were still God’s people and His promises to them as a nation were still in effect. And it was also perhaps a warning–they had gone into captivity because they had disobeyed God, worshiped idols, and would not listen to His prophets. They needed to be careful not to go down that same path again.

I’m currently reading:

  • Joy: A Godly Woman’s Adornment by Lydia Brownback
  • Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God by Tim Challies
  • Be Free (Galatians): Exchange Legalism for True Spirituality by Warren Wiersbe
  • Worthy of Legend by Roseanna M. White
  • Three Fifty-Seven A. M.: Timing Is Everything by Kendra Norman-Bellamy and Hank Stewart


  • The More We Know Him, the More We Trust Him. “If we’re not careful, we can approach Bible reading with an ‘all about me’ attitude. What’s in it for me, how does it relate to me, how does it make me feel. Instead, the Bible is all about God. God wants to meet our needs, but more than that, He wants us to know Him”
  • Offers of Safety Are Not Always Safe. The world wants to quiet opposing voices in the name of providing a safe haven. But the safe haven is actually a trap where Satan is enfolding people in error.
  • When Is It Wrong to Complain? Sometimes complaining isn’t so much about the words, but the attitude behind them. It’s not wrong to share burdens or problems.
  • Ministry Beyond Church Membership. It can be discouraging to invest time in church visitors who don’t stay. But our ministry still counts if done as unto the Lord.


I continue to enjoy our writing critique group and have started implementing some of their suggestions for my manuscript.

But I was recently discouraged by a podcast where a literary agent said an aspiring author needed to have 50,000 followers before even seeking an agent. My jaw dropped and my spirit plummeted. If you don’t know, the days are gone when an author submitted a book to a publisher who did all the marketing. These days, new authors are expected to have an audience before a publisher will take a chance on them. Part of that is due to changes in books and publishing over the last several years (more online purchases, fewer bookstores, cuts in publishers’ budgets and personnel) and to the fact that word of mouth is the best way to promote books.

But when a blogger’s focus changes to getting followers, there’s a subtle shift in everything else they do. And I don’t want to have that shift in focus. I want to keep coming alongside and encouraging others here, sharing what I am learning.

It’s not wrong in itself to seek a larger audience. People in the Bible sought ways to share their message. But when that becomes a primary focus, it can skew everything else.

So I am praying about that and about time to write. If you feel led, this writer and others would appreciate your prayers for wisdom and balance and God’s leading.

As we turn the calendar to November in a few days, we’re expecting another fairly quiet month until Thanksgiving week. I enjoy that there is a theme of gratefulness through the entire month of November.

How was your October?

(I often link up with some of these bloggers.)

15 thoughts on “October Reflections

  1. I will pray about writing decisions too. That advice sounds similar to what was given at the conference I attended a decade (!) ago now — without followers in the hundreds of thousands, give it up for being traditionally published. The agents I heard pretty much said you need to be a celeb or already be published. It was disheartening, but then again it was freeing too because I felt like it gave me the push/permission I needed to self-pub my books and I’ve been happy with that (I did submit first to a publisher or agent or two, but when I didn’t hear back within a few months, I took that as the “answer” I needed). I’m sorry too about church but I understand. I’m playing most weeks at my “organ church” but my husband/daughter attend a newish-to-us church. They too emphasize membership but my husband isn’t big on the one … confession? catechism? that they require agreement with. It’s a dilemma …

    • I’m considering self-publishing, too. There’s a big learning curve to it, but it is faster and allows more control. I read another agent who said she wasn’t looking for numbers so much as engagement–interaction with readers. My plan is to try traditional agents and publishers first and see what happens.

  2. Oh Barbara, I totally understand about your spirit plummeting when you hear things like that about publishing. Mine does too. All I can say is that I believe God will open the doors that He wants us to go through. And that I’ll be praying for you in this too.

  3. Social media has certainly made an impact on the publishing industry! I had no idea and will pray for the Lord leading you.

    I was visiting a church and considering membership when a group of new members were introduced and the basic tenets they agreed to was printed in a bulletin insert. The first one was to follow church leaders. It’s very likely that the longer more nuanced version would couch that in terms of those leaders following Christ, but it was startling nevertheless. I hope you’ll find good connections at your new church and begin to feel more settled.

    • Thanks so much for your prayers re God’s leading in writing.

      I would be startled by such a statement about following leaders, too. We’re to follow them as they follow Christ, but we have to be careful about authoritarian leaders as well–that’s a prime set-up for abuse.

  4. Grace Livingston Hill is a great author, Barbara! And now there are a few of her books on audible too. My favorites are: The Obsession of Victoria Gracen, Aunt Crete’s Emancipation, and Cloudy Jewel.

    And you don’t have to get the followers and seek a publisher, you can self-publish. Don’t let the worldly advice weigh you down. Author advice reminds me of parenting advice where they say it takes a million dollars to raise a child, and it isn’t true. God provides for our families, and He provides for us as authors too. You can trust Him to lead you through the writing process and the publishing process. Enjoy the adventure of writing with Him! (And don’t let anyone steal your joy – your strength.)

    • Thanks for the GLH recommendations! The publishing advice was from a Christian literary agent and is similar from what I have heard from others, though her number was much higher (I’d heard 10,00 before and thought that was high). I’m looking at self-publishing–there’s a big learning curve to doing it in a way that’s compatible with traditional publishing. Some of the earliest self-published books were looked down on because of faulty (or absent) editing and formatting, etc. And then all the responsibility for trying to get the book in front of people is on the author’s shoulders. But there are tools online to help with all that.

      My hope and trust is that if the Lord laid it on our hearts to write, He’ll guide and direct in what to do with it as well.

  5. I’m sorry to hear that you’re having to look for a new church, but I understand it. It’s a process that is rarely easy, and usually comes with a measure of heartbreak to leave behind church family that you grew to love. Praying you find a new place that will better align with your beliefs.

  6. Praying for you as look for a new church. It is difficult, but I pray that God will lead you to the right place. Also, praying for your writing. I agree, it’s not fun to be focused on numbers of followers. A book I found helpful on this is Influence: Building a Platform that Elevates Jesus (not me) by Kate Motaung and Shannon Popkin. It doesn’t have easy answers but it is really helpful in thinking about the topic.

  7. I’m sorry you had to leave your church, Barbara, but I totally understand. That has happened to us in the past before. I hope that you will soon find a new ‘home’ church. It can be discouraging thinking about numbers but I encourage you to write and continue your ministry. It’s amazing how things can evolve. And please don’t be put off looking for an agent or submitting to publishers just because your numbers don’t add up. Not all agents/publishers are the same, and you never know what God can do. Thank you for being a part of Hearth and Soul!

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