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Issue 16-1

Resolution Failure

Over the last couple of days I’ve found myself wondering why we are all so driven to make resolutions on the first day of the year. What is the psychology behind all this? Americans rush to make their good-intentions list (some 50% of our population, according to Psychology Today), but social scientists estimate somewhere between 81 and 92 percent of us fail to keep our resolutions.

I have resolved to set five hours aside five days a week for research, organizing and writing.
Obviously, given the above failure factor, your prayers for me are desperately needed.

The last book I published along the traditional publishing path was Comforting One Another. Since then, the editors have become younger; I know no acquisition personnel in various houses (once I could name them all—they had all contacted me). I’ve had to find a new agent (who could not locate a religious publisher to co-venture with us on the publication of The Kingdom Tales Trilogy). And according to the Steve Laube Agency, I must develop what is called an Author Platform. What is an “Author Platform”? I’ll spare you the 16 pages of agency explanation!

What I’m mostly concerned about is that I get myself to the spiritual place where:
• I am praying regularly and faithfully,
• I am not so busy that I lose God-consciousness, and
• I am quiet enough for as many times a day as I need in order
to listen to that inner creative voice
from which all beautiful inspiration generates.

Perhaps you’ve noticed I haven’t even mentioned the step about putting words on paper! For me, good writing is a spiritual activity that demands rigorous spiritual discipline. (Some 81 to 92 percent of us fail to keep our resolutions? Oh, dear.)

In some ways I am also in resolution failure danger. After spending almost eight months sorting, purging and ordering in preparation for a major location transition, I find I have done the initial brainstorm work on about six major writing projects. Here they are (talk about a resolution failure disaster ahead!):

1. David and I have resolved to write two more books to add to the Tales of the Kingdom series. Fortunately, after seeing Rogue One (the latest Star Wars film), I realized I didn’t have to design a replicate full-color, 12-story children’s book. Been there. Done that. Instead, I could write two stand-alone young-adult novels taking the narrative arc of Amanda forward as well as that of Hunter (formerly Little Child).

2. In addition, I’ve done all the research and time-lining and brainstorming for these fictional works:
• One novel set in Chicago in 1968, which examines the full possibilities of relationships between men and women. The first line reads, “All the men in my life are always leaving me.”
• A mystery series titled The Speaker Circuit Chronicles. Dead bodies are frequent.
• Short stories titled Brothers, Fathers, Sons, Friends.
• Lisa’s Strata—an erratic adaptation of Euripides’ play where all the women in a local church mount a nonviolent resistance movement when the new pastor declares no women can be used in leadership.
• Roly-Poly Bug Learns to Hum Christmas—a children’s story about—you guessed it, a roly-poly bug.

These are all ready enough to put into the proposal stage (once I’ve read my literary agency’s 16-page explanation of building an “Author’s Platform”).

3. Books for the Religious Marketplace, Also Ready for Proposal Writing
• Listening With My Fingertips: How Hearing and Being Heard Can Change Your Brain. One woman’s remarkable story of healing through leading 250 listening groups.
• Seeing Takes Time: Hard-Won Wisdom From Seven Decades of Looking, Noticing and Seeing
• Thank You for This Searing Pain: Looking at Suffering as a Gift
• The Thanksgiving Meal: A Plan for All Year-Round

4. Books Already Written That Are Ready for Rewrite, Reprint and Republish
• Lonely No More
• Key to a Loving Heart
• You Are What You Say is now ready to go to Print On Demand with a new cover, a new title, and updating on the inside. Medicine for Mouth Disease: A Miracle Cure for Troublesome Tongues looks like this:

Admittedly this is ambition unbounded. I am doomed to resolution disaster. An Internet search informs me that the 18 to 20 percent of successful resolvers start with small doable steps, create positive goals in positive environments with positive reinforcement and don’t try to change everything at once.

So here goes. Let me start with that first item—the stand-alone book, taking Amanda’s narrative arc into young-adult fiction. Here are the things I must do to get that in proposal shape:

1. Take the bread out of the freezer—NOPE! NOPE! That’s a different list. That’s for cooking dinner.  Here we go—

1. Research Young Adult fiction.

2. Interview young-adult readers as to their favorite titles (other than the Hunger Games and the Divergent series).

3. Order the Great Courses lectures on “How to Publish Your Book” by Jane Friedman. Description: “Get unprecedented insights about the current publishing landscape to distinguish your book from the competition and improve your chances of publication.”

4. Remember that although in years past you have authored over 26 published books, you are ALWAYS a beginner. Act like one. In fact, the publishing world has changed so much, you really are a novice.

5. Set Mondays aside to leave the house, find a Starbucks, library, or sports center corner and make notes on plot lines.

6. Develop your capacity (and love) of writing dialogue. Whole pages of the Harry Potter books are written in such. Practice. Read the dialogue in other writers’ works. Eavesdrop on conversations.

7. Pull out the writer’s books in your library you have never read, such as:
• Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market
• Let the Crazy Child Write
• Crafting Stories for Children
• Children’s Writer’s Word Book

See now. Isn’t that all simple? Oh, heck. Who am I kidding? I need your prayers.

Pray that I will find a mix of anger (that great motivator, i.e. “I’ll show you I can do it!”); a modicum of arrogance mixed with a smidgeon of narcissism (most necessary in order to believe that anyone would even want to read what you have to say or that it is even practical to put in all that time when there are thousands of writers better than yourself and the publishing industry has gone into a monomaniacal shift); that a creative internal engine will begin to pump night and day when you are, after all, turning 74 this month!

Mostly pray for humility: Pray that I will not become a resolution disaster and that my fear about starting again will force me to turn over every moment to the One who is the Greatest of all Communicators.

Karen Mains


Melissa Mains Timberlake and Karen Mains are building templates for small relational retreats to be held at Turtle Creek Acres, the Timberlake home in McHenry, Illinois. We have offered two Advent Retreats and are gratified by a real work of the Holy Spirit in individual participants and also by the fact that the designs we are developing are intentionally comfortable for those who are spiritual seekers but not necessarily within the framework of conservative Christianity. This makes for intriguing dialogues and after-retreat growth. (And hence the title for the Timberlake’s participatory learning seminar, “Kicking Ass in the Second Half.”)

Melissa and Doug Timberlake

Melissa and her husband, Doug, are certified leadership-, team-, personal-, relationship- and public-speaking coaches. David and Karen Mains are well-known media communicators of Christian growth truths. Here are the one-day retreats being offered for the next two months. Will send out information on the Timberlake workshops in 1-2 weeks.

A Set-Aside Day to Consider the Soul: For Men and Women

March 2, 20-17 from 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.
David and Karen Mains—Workshop Leaders
Karen Mains: A Look at Psalm 51 Through the Life and Music of Johnny Cash
David Mains: The Beauty of a Clear Conscience
Guided Listening: Questions to Consider in Silence
Vegetarian Lunch
Can Guarantee: Safety and Quiet, Beauty and Goodness
Fee: $100 through Check, Credit Card or PayPal
Register by email:
After registering you will receive a day schedule, pre-assignments, payment information.
“The beast in me/ is caged by frail and fragile bars/ restless by day and by night/
Rants and rages at the stars/ O God help the beast in me.” — Johnny Cash

Housecleaning for Your Inner Life: For Men and Women

April 1, 2017 (Yes, it is April Fool’s Day—Perfect Day to Work Through Human Perplexities!)
From 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.
David and Karen Mains—Workshop Leaders
Forgiveness is the topic: Learning to forgive those who have wounded us.
Learning to forgive ourselves. Learning to forgive God.
Gentle guidance will be given for group and individual work.
Private sessions with David and Karen will also be made available.
Fee: $100 through Check, Credit Card or PayPal
Register by e-mail:
After registering you will receive a day schedule, pre-assignments, and payment information.
“Any harmony in the external indicates there is mental and emotional disharmony in the internal. This human truth prevails: As without, always within.”

What You Should Know About Turtle Creek Acres

Turtle Creek Acres is the protected marshlands and converted barnhome
of Doug and Melissa Timberlake
in McHenry, Illinois about 50 minutes west of Chicago—
just close enough to the Chicago area to not take up much drive time
and just far enough to feel like a day away.
One Advent Retreat of Silence guest summed it up succinctly,
“I’ve attended many of the Hungry Souls retreats, and they’ve been great
 but there’s something powerful about being in this private home.”
We feel that loving Presence also and want to share it with others.


The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the biweekly newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to

Hungry Souls Contact Information

ADDRESS: 29W377 Hawthorne Lane
West Chicago, IL 60185
PHONE: 630-293-4500

Karen Mains

Karen Mains

Pray that I will not become a resolution disaster and that my fear about starting again will force me to turn over every moment to the One who is the Greatest of all Communicators.
Getaway with God:
The Everywoman' Guide to Personal Retreat
by Letitia Suk

One of my great privileges is when authors (or their publishers) ask me to read and write a review of their soon-to-be published books. I am indebted to many friends who have done the same for me.  These succinct quotes from other writers and influencers are used as back cover copy, in marketing, and are often loaded into the end pages when enough well-known names jump on the bandwagon of praise and recommendation.

Just such a privilege came my way when I was asked to review Getaway With God by Letitia Suk. This is a masterful compilation of how to schedule the practice of spiritual retreat, both personal or corporate, into the life of any who are hungry for God. The book is subtitled The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat, and although many of the suggestions and helps are geared to the multitasking responsibilities in women’s lives, the personal retreat practice should not be gender-directed.

What makes this book helpful is that it is so practical. Suk, an author, retreat leader and life coach, anticipates the variety of potential retreats, the hindrances that keep us from planning and going on retreat, and provides creative and pragmatic suggestions as to how to build a lifelong retreat discipline. She covers the bases (how’s that for being gender-idiom-inclusive?)

I would recommend that every church spiritual formation team or discipleship staff would make copies available to any who indicate a hunger for this practice.

I brought this book with me to read as David and I traveled to and from Dallas, Texas. On the way down, a weather system caused our flight to be canceled, and we eventually were rebooked, arriving four hours behind schedule—but arriving. On the way home, another weather system rerouted us from a direct flight to Chicago to Houston, where five more departure flights were canceled. This necessitated a stay overnight. I was able to get David home on a United Airlines pass, and I settled down in a sunny spot in the airport. Might as well read Letitia’s book and turn my wait (couldn’t get out until 11:00 a.m. whereas David and flown home on a 7:00 a.m. flight) into a private retreat in the airport lounge.

I became so absorbed, my scheduled flight in the next gate down the terminal left without me! Didn’t hear the boarding announcement or my name being paged. Talk about exercising a spiritual-retreat practice. I was reschedule to go back to Dallas and fly to O’Hare from there. However, a stewardess at the counter where my flight departed (that I had missed) guided me through the process, claimed a “hardship delay” for me, sent me back to the gate where I had been sitting in the sunshine praying and reading. I left on the next flight from there because there were some no-shows. Checking the arrival monitors in Chicago, I realized the Dallas flight on which I was rebooked had been cancelled, as had been all the rest of the flights from that airport.

Do I need to say that Getaway With God is a gem! Buy it for yourself, then make it available to those with whom you are walking into spiritual maturity.

Copyright 2006-2017 Mainstay Ministries. All rights reserved.

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