10 Things I’ve Learned As a First-Time Author

10 Things I've Learned As a First-Time Author

A few months ago, I shared here about my latest project (my first book – you can read that post here.)  Now that the manuscript has been submitted (AMEN and HALLELUJAH!), I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned along the way as a first-time author.  Here they are in no particular order:

1. A patient editor is a God-send.  As a first-time author, I had a lot of questions.  A LOT.  Brenda, my editor, answered every question and did so graciously and with no judgment.

2. Some things will go undone around the house, such as laundry, meal prep, dusting, grocery shopping, opening mail, etc.  There are only 24 hours in a day and you just can’t get it all done.  You have to give yourself a little grace…which leads me to point #3.

3. You’ll lean on your family more, especially as deadlines loom.  Everyone in my house pitches in on a regular basis but I delegated tasks a lot more as my workload increased.  I’m so thankful for them!

4. You’ll say ‘no’ to things more than ever, even if those things are good things.  I said ‘no’ to family events, outings with friends, and a few outside projects.  It was tough but thankfully, reading Lysa TerKeurst’s book, The Best Yes, a few years ago prepared me for this season of my life.

5. You will doubt yourself and cry…a few times.  I cannot recall how many times I cried on my husband’s shoulder and asked him, “What did I say yes to?”; “What was I thinking?”; and”Why did you encourage me to do this?”  This project challenged me like no other and made me question my sanity, my skill set, my everything!

6. You will experience supernatural strength.  As each deadline neared, I felt excited energy and a sense of being overwhelmed all at the same time.  When the clock showed an ungodly early hour, God gave me the strength to finish.  I was like the little engine that could – with His strength, not mine.

7. Work within your own rhythms.  Find what works for you.  I researched the writing habits of some of my favorite authors early on in this process.  Some of them wrote early in the morning before their families began their day.  Some had a particular writing space where they put their words on paper.  I am not a morning person, so that was definitely not going to be my story.  In addition, I varied the places where I wrote.  Later this week, I hope to post about my writing process in a little more detail.  Stay tuned…

8. Being surrounded by a few of your favorite things helps make the writing process more enjoyable.  My favorite candle, my favorite coffee, a bowl of peanut M & M’s and my Spotify playlist provided the ambiance for my writing.  Perfect.

9.  You’ll feel a great sense of relief (and accomplishment) when you click ‘send’ for the final piece of the manuscript.  You might even do a happy dance.  No explanation needed. 🙂

10.  You will develop a greater appreciation for people who write for a living.  Really, people who write for a living are my new heroes.  It takes a great amount of discipline, creativity and perseverance to push through the book writing process.  And for those of you who work a full-time job and write in your spare time, bravo to you!

I’ve learned so much more but these 10 things stand out to me the most.  I would also like to share one thing that I was reminded of:  I love creating things and infusing my own ideas into a project.  One of the challenges that I welcomed for this project was the fact that I’d be creating something from scratch.  The ideas shared in the book are some of my best ideas and show my creative side.  I can’t wait for you to see the finished book when it’s released in September 2017!

If you’d like to pre-order the book, you can find more details here.  Order one for yourself and for anyone you know who wants to share God’s truths in a fun, creative, hands-on way.

Keep the conversation going!  What have you learned as an author (either blogs, articles or books)?

Volunteer Appreciation Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank (CPC 2017 Breakout Notes)

Free and Low-Cost Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

A few weeks ago, I attended my very first Children’s Pastors Conference (CPC) in Orlando, Florida.  I was invited to lead a few one-on-one coaching sessions (which I absolutely loved!), participate in a Women in Leadership panel and lead a breakout about free and low-cost volunteer appreciation ideas.

Here are a few highlights from that breakout session:

4 P’s of Volunteer Appreciation

Volunteer appreciation should be:

Purposeful

This is the ‘why’ – we should have a purpose or reason for appreciating our volunteers.  Knowing the ‘why’ sets the course for the other 3 P’s, so it’s important to establish this first.

Questions to consider:

  • What is your appreciation strategy?
  • What is your budget and time allotment?
  • What do you want them to feel or know?
  • Who can help you brainstorm ideas and implement the plan?

Personal

This is the ‘what’ – what speaks their love language?  What do they like?

Questions to consider:

  • Do you know your volunteers’ favorite things?
  • If not, how can you find out this information?
  • Do you know their special days, like birthdays, anniversaries, volunteer anniversaries, etc.?

Plentiful

This is the ‘when’ – show them appreciation regularly!

Question to consider:

  • When can your team recognize volunteers?

Practical

This is the ‘how’ – how will show them you appreciate them?

Question to consider:

  • What can you do in the next week to appreciate at least one volunteer?

Free Volunteer Appreciation Ideas

My breakout attendees shared their favorite free volunteer appreciation ideas (I threw in a few, too).  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Ask the congregation to share how a volunteer impacted them and share the story on your church’s website
  • Thank you cards (written by kids)
  • Thank you cards (written by email)
  • Thank you notes (written by your or your team)
  • Praise them for handling difficult situations
  • Hold a brunch where parents sign up to bring food items
  • Brag to your senior leadership about them
  • Coordinate a group outing for them and their families
  • Shout them out on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Praise them in front of their peers
  • Present them with flowers from someone’s garden
  • Acknowledge them during a worship service
  • Fill a bulletin board in your volunteer lounge with quotes, notes, pictures, etc.
  • Highlight them in your bulletin
  • Ask their opinion – this makes them feel ownership and value
  • Text them a picture of them in action with a thank you note

Low-Cost Appreciation Ideas

My breakout attendees also shared their favorite low-cost volunteer appreciation ideas (I threw in a few here , too).  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Gloves with lotion
  • Free item from church cafe
  • CM swag items such as personalized mugs, t-shirt, buttons, lanyards, pens, tote bags, hats and water bottles
  • Redbox movie/code with popcorn
  • Gift cards to restaurants or coffee shops
  • Homemade baked goods
  • Bagels or donuts
  • Potted plants or bouquets of flowers
  • Bags of candy
  • Framed picture of class/group
  • Candy gifts such as:
    • Dove chocolates: “You are the heart of the ministry.”
    • Tootsie Rolls: “Thank you for your role at our church.”
    • Charm Pops: “I am charmed to have you join us!”
    • Life Savers: “Thanks for being a life saver!”
    • Gummy Bears: “I appreciate you beary much!”
    • Extra Gum: “Thanks for always going the extra mile for our kids!”
  • Mason jars filled with cookies, soup mix, or hot chocolate mix

Appreciating those who’ve said YES to serving doesn’t have to break the bank.  A little creativity and heartfelt gratitude go a long, long way.

Find even more ideas on my Volunteer Appreciation Pinterest board.  If you’re looking for last-minute Valentine’s Day ideas, check out my Valentine’s Day Pinterest board.

What are some of your favorite free or low-cost volunteer appreciation ideas? Share them with me below!

My New Project!

My new resource book for Children's Ministry leaders, homeschool parents and Christian educators is coming soon!

It’s been a little quiet here on the blog because I’ve been working on a very special project that has required my time and attention.

For a long time, I dreamed that one day, I’d like to write a book.  In my mind, I didn’t see that happening for many, many years down the road…you know – when I had time to write one.  Well, I’m excited to finally share that my dream has become a present reality!

This past October, I was approached by a reputable Christian publisher to write a resource book for Children’s Ministry leaders, homeschool parents and Christian educators.  It was an opportunity of a lifetime that, after prayerful consideration and the full support of my family, I humbly accepted.

As I have written words in this space, I have been amazed time and time again how the words God gives me translates to what is shared and read here.  I have found the same to be true as the book has come together.

The resource book, which will be released in September 2017, will also feature hand-drawn illustrations by my very talented 17-year old daughter.  I am thrilled to be able to share this experience with her!

More specifics, such as my writing process, what I’ve learned, book title and other details, will be shared soon, but I’d covet your prayers as my first of two deadlines is next week – eek!!

Thank you so much for your prayers and support as I embark on this exciting journey!

Top Posts of 2016

Happy 2017, friends!

I hope your 2017 is off to a great start!  Before jumping too far into the new year, I wanted to reflect on the top posts shared here in 2016.  I tried to post from a variety of angles, from what God taught me personally to giving a glimpse into my ministry world.

Top 5 Posts of 2016 from KidMinspiration - A Children's Ministry Blog

Here’s a recap of the top kidmin posts of 2016.  Check out any that you may have missed (and please, share them if they spoke to you.)  I look forward to writing more here in 2017 and sharing (really soon!) about a new project I’ve been working on.  Stay tuned!

1. When Kidmin Breaks Your Heart

2. Preparing for Move Up Sunday

3. When There Are No Words

4. Preschool Curriculum: Why We Chose Orange’s First Look

5. A Conversation About Teaching Kids the Gospel

I appreciate you for reading and being part of this community!

As we look ahead to 2017, what topics would you like me to tackle here on the blog in 2017?  Leave your thoughts below or email me at kidminspiration@gmail.com.