Kelly Balarie Guest Post: 5 Tips to Being Battle Ready

I’ve had the privilege to be on Kelly Balarie’s launch team for her new book, Battle Ready, and I’ve loved this chance to read an advanced copy and to help launch this book into the world. Today I have a special guest post to share from Kelly about being battle ready. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

This book can seriously change your life. God is using this book to help me see how my thought patterns have been hurting me and how I can change my thoughts in order to change my life. Battle Ready is full of practical methods and mindsets you can adopt to help you be ready for all the battles you face. There’s a link at the end of this post to pre-order the book and get the accompanying prayer journal!

5 Tips to Being Battle Ready
By: Kelly Balarie

If a baby bird never moves out of the nest, she’ll never fly. If a toddler never takes that one inch forward, fearing falling, she’ll never walk. If a woman never takes a small step, she’ll continually stay, nowhere.

A small step out of move-out faith is mission-critical. Why? Faith brings to life what we cannot see, but desperately hope for.

Where do you stand on the faith-scale? 1-10? Do you see new life arising from your hopes, hunger, and hardships, or are you simply staying stuck, where you are?

You know, my life has lived as a big struggle. I’ve gone through an eating disorder, depression, a health scare that threatened to take my walking legs, financial debt struggles, heart-breaking and joy-stealing relational problems, companies going under, and constant self-doubt. The list goes on-and-on…

Nearly every time, in these situations, I thought: There’s no way out. This is impossible. I don’t know what to do. I am going under. I don’t have the (time, ability, resources or wisdom) to get through this. God won’t really be there for me; He’s got better things to do. I am stupid for letting this happen. No one understands. I’m all alone.

If faith is hope in what we cannot see, I’ve lived hopelessness. If it’s “impossible to please God without faith,” no wonder I felt so displeased with myself. If God says, “everything is possible for those who believe,” I suppose I haven’t believed.

The inclination here is to be angry at myself saying, You always mess up. You always fall short. You never do anything right.

But this is not how God speaks to me. This is not being Battle Ready.

Instead, God restores me by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Knowing this prepares my mind to walk into fearlessness, boldness, and purpose.

God’s grace welcomes in new faith. This is a vital, because faith is our greatest battle weapon. It takes us places, it tames our trials and it forges us ahead, like doubt never can.

So, how do you walk out life-changing faith? Here are a couple tips from my vast arsenal of faith-building, doubt-reducing, and life-changing thought-strategies I’ve discovered on my many battlefields of hardship:

5 Small Steps To Building Battle Ready Faith

  1. Envision Jesus one step ahead of you. If you know God is at the place you’re afraid of, how much more can you trust He’s preparing it for your arrival?
  2. Hear in your mind, continually: God really cares for me. The more we believe God sees us, the more we’ll believe He’ll see us through.
  3. Taste His victory history. If you remember how you felt when God came through last time, you can almost taste him doing the same thing again. Let your mouth water for His “new thing.”
  4. Inhale the reality, God is with you. Sure, there may be bumps in the boat. This doesn’t mean Jesus is sleeping. He’s fully aware of all you’re going through, the path He has you on, and your perfect escape with Him.
  5. Hold a light schedule. If you clear way in your schedule, you’ll make room to experience God’s Word in such a way where it can begin to dwell in you.

Pick up your shield of faith. When the enemy throws an arrow at you, like a random email that makes you feel sad or a rejection from a friend that leaves you disappointed, remember: God is with you, for you, and He is on your side. He is working out something in you and for you that’s even better than you expected.

You can become battle ready and live victoriously. You can prepare in advance rather than emotionally responding and reacting to the hardships that you face. God will give you peace as you learn His wisdom and strategies.

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Battle Ready by Kelly Balarie

About Battle Ready: Train Your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt & Live Victoriously

“The best time to be strengthened against the Enemy’s tactics of doubt, disappointment, and devastation is before he makes his first move toward us. We all desperately need the biblical guidance and preparation found in Battle Ready!”

– Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries

Battle Ready is a hands-on scriptural plan that teaches you twelve easy-to-implement, confidence-building mind-sets designed to transform your thoughts and, therefore, your life. You’ll gain practical wisdom, like how to:

  • make new habits stick in just five steps
  • disarm the seven most common attacks that plague women
  • exchange self-limiting thoughts for purpose-driven, love-releasing thoughts
  • implement thirty-second mind-lifters that deliver peace
  • create boundaries so you live life full of what matters

Battle Ready releases July 3rd! Pre-order Battle Ready here.

To download your pre-order bonuses and to get Battle Ready freebies after the book is released—printables, devotional reminders, a customizable daily Battle Plan, and the “Find Your Battle Style” quiz—visit: www.iambattleready.com

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Battle Ready Daily Prayer Journal

To order the companion Battle Ready Daily Prayer Journal that will help you practically change your thoughts, then your life, click here.

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Author Kelly Balarie

Kelly Balarie, an author and national speaker, is on a mission to encourage others not to give up. Through times of extreme testing, Kelly believes there is hope for every woman, every battle and in every circumstance. She shares this hope on her blog, Purposeful Faith, and on many writing publications such as Relevant, Crosswalk, and Today’s Christian Woman. Kelly’s work has been featured on The Today Show, 700 Club Interactive, Moody Radio and other television and radio broadcasts. When Kelly is not writing, she is chilling at the beach with her husband, a latte, and 2-toddlers who rightfully demand she build them awesome castles.

 

 

Exciting News!

I have some exciting news that I wanted to share with you all—I’m going to be writing for the wonderful Christian blog We Are Beautiful!

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We Are Beautiful

For a long time I never wanted to write nonfiction. I thought that truths were better shared through fiction, and so I made that my focus as I grew as a writer. Writing this blog over the past two years has been fun though, and it opened my mind to nonfiction.

And a few months ago I felt God stirring a new dream and calling in me—to write for him directly. Not just through my fiction, but through Christian nonfiction and devotions.

The thought of doing this one day made me both excited and scared. I had no idea what I was doing with nonfiction. And I wasn’t sure if I had something important to say with my own life and with my own stories. Before, if I wanted to say something, I would create a story and a character to tell it. Now God was asking me to write about me, and that was terrifying.

But I could feel him stirring me to keep growing and learn how to do it. I started paying more attention to the devotions and Christian nonfiction I was reading. Like I do when studying fiction, I had to learn how to look past the story to see how the piece is constructed and what makes it work. And after a few months of studying, God has opened a door for me.

And that door is We Are Beautiful. WAB is a community of women that inspires one another and celebrates true beauty. With events, groups, and the blog I’ll be writing for, WAB helps women of all kinds find their true beauty in Christ.

I’m so excited to be writing for them. You can check out their website here, and I’ll let you know when my first post is published to their site!

How to Get Ideas: First Lines

Writers are always asked how they come up with their ideas, but it’s often hard to know exactly where a story idea comes from. Ideas seem to come from anywhere and everywhere, and they sometimes come when you’re not even trying. But for those who are newer to writing and for those who are having trouble figuring out what to write next, ideas can be hard to find and you might have to force yourself to come up with them.

That’s what this blog series is all about—how to get ideas and how to develop stories from those ideas. So far I’ve written about what if questions, titles, and prompts. Today I’m going to take a look at first lines.

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How to Get Ideas: First Lines

The first line of any story should hook your reader into going on and reading the rest of the story. In order to hook the reader, that first line has to be interesting and get the reader curious about what’s going to happen next. The first line should have an inherent question to it that makes the reader keep reading to find the answer.

K. M. Weiland’s book Structuring Your Novel goes into detail about every aspect of story structure. I loved her chapter about hooks and first lines because she helps you understand what exactly makes a first line great. Weiland discusses the five elements a first line can have: an inherent question, character, setting, a sweeping declaration, and tone. The first line should set up some or all of these important story elements in order to make the reader want to keep reading.

Weiland also makes an important observation—that most first lines aren’t that memorable. First lines don’t have to be super-memorable, amazing lines. They simply have to make the reader want to read the next line and the line after that.

I love first lines. First lines can convey so much. They can show you the main character and setting, set the tone for the book, and ask a question that the story will answer. When I write a story, I spend a lot of time on the first scene. I love taking my time on that first scene and first line, working to make them perfect. But I also love creating stories from first lines.

With the very first full-length novel I wrote, I initially thought of it by thinking of the first line: I’ll never forget the day he came. Looking back I know that that isn’t a great first line—it’s vague and not that interesting—but that line just popped into my head one day and it got me started.

You can always change your first line later on when you edit, but you can take a line and use it as your launching point for a story. A seemingly random line—a random sentence, a piece of dialogue, and interesting description—can all be a starting point for you to write from and build a story around.

For me though, first lines usually just feel right. I had the idea for Somewhere Only We Know rolling around in my head for years, but it wasn’t until I thought of a new first line that I was able to write the entire book. I love my first line. It introduces Frankie and Susan, explains what happened to their mother, and asks the question of why Susan is boxing up her books. It piqued my curiosity and made me want to keep writing. I hope it makes readers want to keep reading

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The first lines of Somewhere Only We Know

What’s your favorite first line from a book? Do you like creating stories from first lines?

Finding Your Time

Are you an Early Bird or Night Owl?

We’ve all be asked this question before, but I’ve never really liked it because I’ve never felt like either. I like to sleep in a little and take my mornings slow and easy. And, while I do stay up later, I don’t do anything productive later at night.

I’m not an early bird or a night owl. Instead, what I’ve found is that I’m a 10:00 am person.

I take my time getting ready in the morning, relaxing and spending time with God, and after I eat breakfast I get down to work. I can usually be pretty productive between 10 am and 2 pm.

I know that I’m lucky to get to work from home. I get to plan how my days go and can work whatever hours I choose. I know not everyone has that luxury. But the point I’m trying to make is to find your time.

People are not necessarily early birds or night owls, but everyone has a time when they feel the most awake and energized and can be the most productive. Finding that time for you is imperative because fighting your body’s natural rhythm will not help you be productive. This is especially important for creative people because it’s really hard to create when you don’t feel energized.

Once you find what time works best for you, make the most of it. Plan your schedule around it. Save the most important tasks or activities for when you can give them your complete focus. And if you write or create something, do it during this time.

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What is your time?

A great example of someone who has found their time is my good friend Alli. Alli is most definitely an early bird. She wakes up around four every day so she can have her alone time and get stuff done. She gets her workouts done in the morning and often does a lot of work for her bakery business. Alli inspires me every day with how dedicated she is to her work and how she schedules her time to make the most of her most productive hours. Also her cake balls are amazing and you should check out her website here.

Have you found your time? In what hours do you feel the most productive?

My 2018 Summer TBR

I need sunshine. I love the warmth of summer and always feel more productive with the bright and long days. I especially love having a bunch of time to read in the summer. So since it’s finally starting to feel like summer here in Ohio, I thought I’d share what’s on my summer to-be-read (TBR) list.

The Jenna Fox Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson

I found this series at the library and was completely blown away by the first book, The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Set in the near future, these books explore how far is too far when it comes to medical technology. The best part about these books is the voice, and I couldn’t put the first book down. I can’t wait to finish the second book and read the third to find out how it all ends!

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The Jenna Fox Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson

 

Sea of Ink and Gold books by Traci Chee

The Reader and The Speaker were some of my favorite books I read in 2017. You know a book was good when you miss it after you’re done reading it, and I miss Sefia and all of the other characters from this series. I’ve been wanting to go back and read them again. The final book in the series comes out this fall, and I’m so excited for it.

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The Reader and The Speaker by Traci Chee

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

This novel-in-verse is about a seventeenth century artist who is raped and who tries to find healing and a voice through her art. I’m interested in reading this both for the subject matter and because I’m trying to read more verse.

Now is Everything by Amy Giles

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book from bloggers, and am excited to try it. It’s about a girl trying to escape an abusive household, so again I’m really interested in the subject matter.

Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson

I’ve already read this book twice in 2018, but I want to read it again. Part historical fiction and part science fiction, this novel is about lives being connected across centuries and just blew me away. This book has also had a huge influence on my work-in-progress, so I keep reading it to try to figure out how Anderson did it.

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Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson, Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough, and Now is Everything by Amy Guiles

Somewhere Only We Know by Bri Marino

Yes—I want to read my own book this summer! I’ve been struggling a lot lately with doubting myself. Reading your own writing is important because it reminds you that you’ve done it before and you can do it again.

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Somewhere Only We Know

What are you reading this summer?

Behind the Scenes of Somewhere Only We Know: Trees

In my behind the scenes post on Somewhere Only We Know’s setting, I wrote about how the clearing in the forest’s inspiration came from a classroom rather than nature. Even so, nature has a huge role in my book. Like Frankie, I feel closer to God in nature, and so when I was trying to create a space for all of the girls to come together, a clearing with a tree came to mind.

I know very little about trees, so I didn’t have a specific tree in mind when I first wrote the book. I just pictured it to be big and leafy. I chose which type of tree it was later on when I discovered what the name of one of the main characters— Lindsey—meant: “from the island of linden trees.” I learned that linden trees are large and deciduous, with a sturdy trunk and lots of leaves. A linden tree was the perfect, shady tree I needed for the girls.

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The setting of Somewhere Only We Know was inspired by this walking path by my parents’ house.

Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel Speak was a huge influence on me when writing Somewhere Only We Know. Speak is about a young girl starting high school with everyone hating her because she called the cops at the big party over the summer. What no one knows is that she called because she had been just been raped. And no one knows this because she can’t speak about it. Melinda has trouble talking at all. After her rape, she fell into silence. But then her art teacher assigns her a subject to make art with for the entire school year—trees. Melinda has trouble creating art about trees at first, but she is inspired by her teacher’s words that became the epigraph of my novel, and she finally starts to heal:

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Somewhere Only We Know‘s epigraph, which comes from Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Trees are powerful. Trees are a beautiful part of nature. They are not perfect. They have their scars. But they also provide comfort and shade and homes for animals. Trees show me God, and, in my novel, they show Frankie God as well.

What I’m Reading: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Jenna Evans Welch’s debut novel, Love & Gelato, is such a fun and summery read and reminded me a lot of Jennifer E. Smiths books, like This is What Happy Looks Like. I usually don’t buy books before I read them, but when I was only fifty pages into this book and had to return my library copy, I went out and got my own copy. And it’s been a long time since I stayed up late reading a book, but I stayed up finishing this one. I love contemporary YA romances, and Love & Gelato delivered.

The books is about Lina, a girl who is spending the summer in Florence because her mother’s dying wish was for her to live with the father she didn’t know about. And even though Italy is beautiful and has amazing gelato, Lina just wants to go home until she is given the journal her mother kept when she lived in Florence before Lina was born. As Lina learns about her mother’s past and befriends Ren, she learns a secret about her past that changes everything.

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Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

My favorite part about this book was of course the setting. I love books that can take you away to another place, and when I read Love & Gelato I felt like I was in Italy. Everything was beautifully described, and it made me really want some gelato. While I thought the mother’s journal entries lacked depth, Lina’s narrative was funny and engrossing. And though this book dealt with topics like death and domestic abuse, it was hopeful and for the most part light-hearted.