Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays

What are your holiday quirks?

I don’t know about you, but I pull the Christmas music out every year. My all-time favorite Christmas albums remain The Andy Williams Christmas Album (the red one, not the green one) and Bebe & Cece Winans’s First Christmas. Newly discovered loves include Bebe Winans’s recent My Christmas Wish; Rod Stewart’s Merry Christmas, Baby; and Vanessa Williams’s gorgeous rendition of “Do You Hear What I Hear.”

We have an odd tradition in our family. We head out for Chinese food on Christmas Eve. When we lived in Ohio, we didn’t have relatives nearby and didn’t have plans that first year, so we looked for a place to eat—and discovered few places open besides our favorite Chinese restaurant. Our Christmas Day celebration went from a large family event to a smaller, focused time with our family core. I have to say, those Christmases remain my favorites.

Speaking of the niece, gotta be the proud uncle and post Santa pic here. By virtue of her Christmas tights, my brother referred to her attire as “her grunge rocker outfit,” for those of you who remember the 1990s! The kid is one of the best things that ever happened to my life:
What will YOUR holiday celebration include this year? Wherever you are and whomever you’re with, may you know you’re loved and valued—because you are.

Merry Christmas. If Christmas isn’t your thing, happy holidays. And a wonderful new year to you all!

Thanks for reading. Love you all.

Never give up!

John Herrick
johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com

Friday, November 22, 2013

Novel Back on Track!

Happy Thanksgiving (soon) to everyone! Taking a little lunchtime pause to post this.

Early this morning, I sketched the final chapters for the fourth novel. With that complete—and after a few days off next week—I'll resume writing the rest of the novel. The latest, firmer estimate puts the book around the 450-page mark. Eager to resume writing!

This week, I've enjoyed listening to St. Louis radio station Joy FM. The station is fully listener-supported, and at last ratings check I saw, it was the third-highest station in the market. This week marked their autumn pledge-a-thon to make their annual payment on the towers and to launch a second station for teens and young adults. Their spring pledge-a-thon covers the year's operating costs for the station. I became a Joy FM financial supporter last year and remain so. When you hear stories from listeners of how the station and its listening community impacted their lives, it brings new perspective. When you help support the station, you got to sow a seed into that person's life. I love that. For those curious, the station website is www.joyfmonline.org.

Incidentally, I received news a few months ago that a chapter of my e-book 8 Reasons Your Life Matters was used by a staff member at Joy FM for one of their staff devotional times. Couldn't believe it when I heard that. As a writer, if I can write material that encourages people, it's an honor and so exciting. (Thanks to those of you who contact me on my website to let me know you've read the book and to share your life situation. Also a true honor to hear!)

8 Reasons Your Life Matters is available free in e-book formats. You can find a bunch of retailer links at www.johnherrick.net/8reasons/buybook.htm. I also have a PDF version for those who prefer to read on paper.

I'm thankful for you! Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving holiday this year.

Never give up!

John Herrick
johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com

Today's Playlist:  First Christmas by Bebe and Cece Winans

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Novel Progress Update

Continued good news on the fourth novel! I passed the 75,000 word mark this week, which is my personal minimum goal for novels. It looks like the manuscript will surpass the 300 page mark next week. Final length estimate is 400-450 pages. (I must admit, I still need to sketch out the final 1/3 of the story, but most of its content is known.) As a writer, I have a solid gut feeling that this story is effective and will encourage readers. We'll see if that gut feeling pans out!

For those interested, my nonfiction e-book 8 Reasons Your Life Matters is available for free at your usual retail outlets. What a blessing to hear from individuals who have read the book and taken the time to contact me with their life situation and how the book brought encouragement or help. For me, that means God answered a prayer that it would reach the people it should reach.

If you'd like to contact me, I love hearing from my readers! Feel free to contact me at johnherrick.net/contact.htm. I promise every message gets read; the online form is designed to prevent spam messages.

On a personal note, I'm grateful for the opportunity to spend a week at the beach a few weeks ago. It inspires me to write, and looking out at the ocean reminds me of how big God is. If He can hold that huge ocean in His arms, He can handle the details in my life and yours. This self-pic relaxes me, so I'll share it here, just for fun.


What's going on in your life? Let me know! As always, THANK YOU to those who take the time to read the books and those who probably say a prayer or two for me. You're such a blessing.

Never give up!

John Herrick
johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com

Today’s Playlist: This Time Around by Heather Williams

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sunrise Mornings and Novel Progress

I should’ve known God would rock my boat. I’m a night owl. I seldom watch a sunrise. I don’t like early mornings. I described it all in detail in 8 Reasons Your Life Matters, the ebook released a mere two months ago.

Just when we think we have ourselves figured out, God introduces us to something new.

I started work on the fourth novel last week. And as with the third novel, I would sit down to write at the end of my day, for a couple of hours before bed. And as with that third novel, I caught myself thinking, “I’ve worked all day. I feel worn out. I do not feel like sitting down to work again.” It worked fine the first two novels, but that schedule does have its cumulative effects over the years.

So last week, the thought hit me: Could I begin the day writing the book? I’d still be tired, but I’d be fresh. I could give the novel my first and my best. Plus, due to scheduling placement, I would gain extra hours of writing each week.

Not only has it worked well, but I’ve discovered unexpected benefits, as well.

On that book front, I’m thrilled to report that on Thursday of last week, after six days, the novel surpassed its 10% goal in minimum length. My goal length is 75,000 words, about 320 pages. Barring an unexpected development, I believe the final length will be in the 400-450 page range though. If this early morning schedule remains intact, especially if the per-day progress rate increases—which usually happens with the books—a first draft could be complete sometime between late September/early October. We’ll see.

The unexpected benefits: Because I drive somewhere to write instead of working at home, I get to drive into the sunrise each morning. The cool of the day and the near-empty streets have had a calming effect in the mornings. Here’s a glimpse from the car one morning:


Rather than ending the day doing what I love, I now begin the day doing what I love. And that minor tweak has set the tone for the entire day and resulted in a much better attitude.

If you’ve pondered making a minor tweak in your life to see if a positive result occurs, you might discover more good things than you bargained for!

The story seems to have flown well. Unlike past books, I haven’t fully planned this novel in advance. I’ll need to plan the second half in a month or so. But I’m excited about where the book is headed and pray it reaches the hands of the people God wants it to reach.

For those who happen to pray for me as an author, thank you! They are treasured and helpful.

Never give up!

John Herrick
johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com

Today’s Playlist: Promises and Lies by UB40

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hudson Class Reunion

A big congrats to the Hudson High School Class of 1993! (Not sure if you offer congrats, but...)

The big reunion is this weekend. While I won't be able to attend, it seemed wrong not to acknowledge the landmark.

For readers not familiar with Hudson, it's a community in northern Ohio, between Cleveland and Akron. I set much of my novel From The Dead in Hudson.

What makes the Class of 1993 unique in historical terms is that we were the first class to graduate from the newly built high school. Personally memorable for me was being a cast member of the first play to be performed on the brand new auditorium stage. We performed The Curious Savage. Tell you what, I'll trek down to my basement and dig up the old yearbook ... okay, here's a lovely picture of that inaugural cast (part of it). You're looking for the psychiastrist in the back row, third from the left:

I enjoyed those plays. I was one of those quiet guys who rarely spoke, but didn't mind speaking on stage. Getting out of the shell was a good thing.

Here's some fun trivia for you: People all over America have heard of the high school and don't realize it. About ten years ago, the main characters in a film called Eurotrip graduated from Hudson High School in Ohio. More fun facts on Wikipedia: http://tinyurl.com/7ke4lnh

Here's a yearbook pic of the newly built high school in 1993, which I'd love to see again someday:

Cheers to the Hudson Class of 1993. We were blessed with a top-notch education and a great staff that encouraged us. We even had "moms" in the Commons!

Have a great time this weekend! And for those on Facebook, feel free to friend/connect. Safe travels to all. Hope you all are doing well and wish you the best.

Never give up!

John Herrick
johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com

Today's Playlist:  Gather Up by Peter Bradley Adams

Sunday, June 23, 2013

My Desert Island Top 10 List

Many people have a desert island list, the list of albums you'd want to keep handy if you ever found yourself stranded on an island. I'd never compiled one before but thought it would be fun to see what would wind up on it. Perhaps it would shed some light on the perspective or tone of my books, who knows! It wound up as diverse as my music shelves.

These are the CDs I've tended to dig up often to play in the car. So at the risk of causing some laughter out there, here is my own Top 10 Desert Island List, in no particular order:

Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
Automatic for the People - REM
Labour of Love II - UB40
Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 - Janet Jackson
Lift Him Up - Ron Kenoly
August and Everything After - Counting Crows
Listen Without Prejudice, Volume 1 - George Michael
So Close to You - Kent Henry
What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
One More Story - Peter Cetera

On a book note, if you haven't picked up my free e-book 8 Reasons Your Life Matters, it's available now. Amazon has also marked it free for a limited time, and it's currently #2 on its (free) Christian Inspiration list and in the top 10 of the Motivational Self-Help list.

Thanks readers. Love ya.

Never give up!

John Herrick
johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com

Sunday, June 2, 2013

NEWS | Novel Updates

I’m in the planning stage for a fourth novel. No details on it due to my creative paranoia—the fear that if I talk too much about it, I won’t complete it. It’s not done till it’s done. Anyway, I believe it’s a concept ripe for mining, with a rich, layered main character to explore. The concept stirred in me back in 2011. To be honest, it’s a book I didn’t want to write but, like From The Dead, I found myself drawn to the character to the extent of, “I must tell this character’s story.” When a character latches on to my heart like that, I believe it’s God giving you a story and it’s your responsibility to write it. That said, it will be a very vulnerable, uncomfortable book to write. Those seem to be the most effective stories to write, but this story will push the envelope in particular ways. If all continues to run smoothly, I could start writing the first draft this autumn.

Regarding the third novel, the poor thing has suffered so many delays! I started sketching it in late 2005, added some more in 2008, then finished planning it and completed the first draft during 2011-2012. I call it my Artist Novel, because I’m still undecided on a title. It needs to go through the revision process, but is on the back burner so I can focus on the fourth novel mentioned earlier. (Confused yet?) It hasn’t disappeared by any means, but it probably won’t see bookshelves for a few years. It’s a fun love story, but when a character grabs you like the fourth novel’s character—well, you sense God’s destiny at work. So it’ll probably be a reverse-order release, just like From The Dead was released before The Landing, the opposite order of their creation.

In the meantime, be sure to check out my latest (nonfiction) book, 8 Reasons Your Life Matters. It’s available only as an e-book, but you can grab it for free from most retailers.

Thanks so much for sticking with me, readers! I truly appreciate you all. Love you guys.

Never give up!

John Herrick
johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com

Today’s Playlist:  Making Mirrors by Gotye

Sunday, May 19, 2013

NEWS | Free New eBook Now Available

Thanks so much for your support, readers and friends!

"If I were to disappear, would anybody notice?"

My first nonfiction book, 8 Reasons Your Life Matters, is now available FREE from most retailers! It is available exclusively in e-book format. It also provides some background into why I choose to write the novels I write.

Because of its short length of 50 pages or so, 8 Reasons isn't available in print. However, for those of you who enjoy reading your books in print, there is a PDF format you can print.

Find out more about 8 Reasons Your Life Matters at http://tinyurl.com/afmo38d.

Bookstore and download links at http://tinyurl.com/b28cz2a.

I hope you find encouragement in its pages. If you do, I'd love to hear about it. That's one of the greatest gifts a writer can receive!

Never give up!

John Herrick
www.johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com

Today's Playlist:  Gather Up by Peter Bradley Adams

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Latest Music Discoveries

I love music that kindle within me the fire to write! For anyone looking to hear some fresh music before the artists become well known by the public, I’ll share a couple of recommendations here. Both artists fall along the lines of Phillip Phillips but contain their own unique sounds.

Gather Up by Peter Bradley Adams – www.peterbradleyadams.com
The artist has released music for a decade or so. This album is several years old and provides terrific ambience for writing or a road trip. My favorite track on the album is the gorgeous “One Foot Down.”

I hadn’t heard of Adams until watching a recent movie that featured one of his songs, “The Longer I Run” (not on this album). The vocals and production grabbed my heart. Filmmakers tend to use his music here and there because of its understated value. As it turns out, I’d heard another song of his in the Cameron Crowe film Elizabethtown and have enjoyed it on the soundtrack album for years! The song is called “Hard Times,” which Adams recorded it as part of the duo eastmountainsouth.

All For You by Christian Porter – www.christianportermusic.com
I’m addicted to the track “All About You.” Awesome vocals and a stirring chorus. In the first few lines, Porter sounds like a front man for The Fray. Porter anchors his album on solid love songs.

As for how I learned about this artist, you can’t make these things up. Back in March, I visited my brother in Los Angeles. Outside the Burbank airport, I wound up standing curbside between a guy named Christian Porter. We chatted for a couple of minutes while we waited for our rides. Porter was a contestant on NBC show The Voice, but nobody knew who he was since his audition episode wouldn’t air for two more days. We exchanged business cards, and I planned to check out his music eventually. On Sunday night, my brother, sister-in-law and I had the TV on The Voice and were about to turn on a movie when we saw the pre-commercial preview. I said, “Stop! That’s the guy I met at the airport!” We kept the show on to catch Porter’s performance, a re-envisioned R&B take on the rap song “Sexy and I Know It,” which climaxed in a Prince-like falsetto. An electric, badass performance. I bought his album a few days later and it’s remained on my playlist. He got eliminated during the battle round—a travesty, in my opinion. I expect this guy to hit it huge in the years to come.

Never give up!

John Herrick
johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 2, 2013

NEWS | New Book Release Coming Soon

Despite my renewed intention to post to my blog each week, I fell short. But I have a good reason: I turned my attention to my new book, 8 Reasons Your Life Matters, set for release this spring!

8 Reasons Your Life Matters will be an e-book exclusive. It’s a short read and my first nonfiction book, which communicates the overall message I try to convey in my novels: your life has a purpose. You are not an accident. 8 Reasons explores angles you might not have considered. That book concept burned in me for about a year before I fleshed it out. I wanted the chance to speak straight from my heart to yours, just as a voice of encouragement. The book will be available for free—yes, for free—from most e-book retailers.

You can find out more about it on my website.

Never give up!

John Herrick

Today’s Playlist:  All About You by Christian Porter




Thursday, February 7, 2013

Remembered

I'm reaching the one-month mark of paying proper attention to my blog. We’re making progress! I hope to remain as blog-dedicated when the writing process takes shape again, but time will tell. For those who wonder, I’ve got ideas marinating inside for a fourth novel and really want to get preparation work and early pounding on the first draft this year. Meanwhile, I’ve put more of a spiritual focus on my blog these days.

Have you noticed how much we forget as time passes? We allow too much time to pass before talking to a friend. Someone makes us a promise, but forgets to keep it. Or my original intent to blog every two weeks, which fell by the wayside when things got busy.

We didn’t intend to forget. It just happened.

We’ve all been treated that way. And if we’re honest, we’d admit we’ve treated others that way, too. And if being forgotten touches a deep area in our lives, it can hurt—a lot.

Or sometimes it’s not a broken promise. Sometimes life just isn’t fair. How often do we think of someone and say, “He is one of the kindest, most faithful people I know. If anyone deserves good things in their life, it’s him. So why is he the first to be downsized or the last to be picked?”

That’s when God’s faithfulness shines through for me. One thing that fascinates me about God is that He notices us. When no one else sees us, He does.

Two Bible verses touch me every time I read them:
 
“Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised” (Genesis 21:1 NASB).
 
“Then God remembered Rachel, and God gave heed to her and opened her womb” (Genesis 30:22 NASB).
 
I never look those verses up just to read them. I tend to forget about them until I’m reading the chapter. For anyone not familiar with the Bible, Sarah and Rachel each had been married for many years. Each had watched others discover the joy of giving birth and raising children.

But Sarah and Rachel were both barren.

Until God remembered them.

Actually, God never forgets. He always notices us, always remembers us. According to Isaiah 49:16, God inscribed His kids’ pictures on the palms of His hands. (Yep, God has tattoos!)

God just has broader timing than we do. And that was the case with Sarah and Rachel. As you read about them, you can see their heartache. They probably reached points in their lives when they doubted they would ever see their dreams of motherhood fulfilled. But eventually, their barrenness ended. They became pregnant.

You might be thinking it’s odd for a guy to relate to barren women. But I relate to delays in their dreams—that feeling of wanting to be farther along your personal path than you are. In other words, you hold a dream on the inside, but it hasn’t yet been born.

Some of you reading this probably feel the same way right now.

Barrenness feels empty. Barrenness feels empty. Barrenness often means holding a lot of heartache inside, because it doesn’t look like people around you would understand—either because their life’s path looks stellar, or because they don’t care enough to dream in the first place.

But for you, there’s no escape. There’s a God-given sense inside you that He has a plan for your life, a destiny. So you can’t turn your back on it. But that means going through barren seasons (or years!) along the way. 

The barrenness has an end point, though.

“’Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child…for the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous than the sons of the married woman,’ says the LORD. ‘Enlarge the place of your tent…lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left’” (Isaiah 54:1-3 NASB).

I soaked in that passage countless times back when I did computer programming. I spent a year reading that passage, the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-47, and Hebrews 11. I read them almost exclusively for about a year, over and over and over again, building up faith and encouragement from them. And to this day, I still cling to those verses because dreams always seem to have a next phase.

You might feel barren, but God hasn’t forgotten you. God takes notice.

And sometimes, we don’t have the ability to make our own dreams come true—hence the long waits—but God will put people in your life. We can help make their dreams come true while we’re waiting for ours. So if we’re waiting, it’s a great time to sow seed into the dreams of someone else—to let them know they’re not forgotten.

The best things in life, those with true substance, seem to involve the hardest-fought battles and the longest waits. But keep pressing on with those genuine heart desires until God brings them to pass.

Never give up!


Today’s playlist:  21 by Adele


Monday, February 4, 2013

Missed Opportunities, Willing Heart

Does opportunity only knock once? Did you miss its knock this week?

Don’t you love days when you awake and don’t feel groggy? You feel content, and your body believes you got the perfect amount of sleep. Last year, I visited my brother in California, and he introduced me to a memory foam pillow. Best sleep I’ve gotten in years! So I bought one and wow, I fall asleep much sooner!

So anyway, I felt unusually rested this morning. And because I’m the type who sets his alarm extra early so he can have the pleasure of hitting the snooze button four or five times before actually getting out of bed, I laid there and reflected on this blog idea for a while.

Have you ever had an interaction with someone, and a few hours or days later, it hits you: I missed an opportunity!

You’ve had desires on your heart but don’t know your next step. The person you talked to seemed to have a desire that matched yours, or perhaps your desire and theirs could have enhanced each other. But it didn’t hit you until later. And in retrospect, it looked like such a missed opportunity—one that will never come around again. At least not with that person.

That person might not be the type you would ever cross paths with again. And because you’re not the type who uses people, you’re busy trying to build them up. It isn’t your M.O. to be on the lookout for how people can serve you.

I wonder if all those missed opportunities were truly opportunities at all.

Maybe God wasn’t setting up an opportunity for us there. Maybe He was just testing the willingness in our hearts instead.

God knows everything. He knew everything from eternity past. And He tells us He mapped out our lives before we were born:

“Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them” (Psalm 139:16 NASB).

Personally, that Bible verse brings such relief to me when I feel like I’ve missed a chance. And it gives me peace about my future, a calm confidence that everything will work out fine.

We’re not robots. God gives us free will. But God also knew our days and knew all our actions from eternity past. That tells me He knew from eternity past how to factor our actions into His perfect plan. In other words, He knew we weren’t going to take action on that so-called opportunity.

So perhaps He wanted to see if we were willing to take hold of something He wanted to give us.

God loves His kids. Maybe He just wanted to take pleasure in seeing what’s in our hearts.

Maybe He just wanted to hear that heart’s response, “God, I would’ve done it. God, I want to step out into what You have planned for me. Please help me not to miss out on Your plan.”

Maybe He wanted to strengthen our resolve for the genuine opportunity when it arrives—so we won’t miss out on it. After all, His perspective is much farther-reaching than ours.

If you do receive an opportunity, seize it! Be on the lookout for those God-given provisions. I’m a big believer in that, and yes, we each have a responsibility to do our part. But worrying about so-called missed opportunities—or even worrying about genuine missed opportunities—seems overrated.

Our only option is to move forward.

And if God was big enough to give us that first “opportunity,” then He’s big enough to do it again.

With God on your side, the One who knew your misses in advance and made provision for them, you have a huge advantage. Your chances are much better than 50/50.

For some reason I can’t fathom, God values each one of us. And He wants us as partners in His plan. If we’ll do the part He gives us, our chances are much closer to 100 percent than we realize.

Sometimes it feels like we’re falling behind. In actuality, we’re probably right on schedule.

Never give up!

John Herrick

Today’s Playlist:  Greatest Hits by Shania Twain


Saturday, February 2, 2013

*NSYNC Dance Moves

I'll probably regret doing this! In my last post, I mentioned doing *NSYNC dance moves for my friend Karis. Well, she told me I should put a video on the blog, so here's some random foolishness. Karis, I hope this makes you happy. :-)

video
 
Never give up!

John Herrick
johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

INSPIRATION | Good to be Alive


Which song makes you smile?
 
Jason Gray’s “Good to be Alive” is my recurring song of gratitude these days. It’s from Jason’s A Way to See in the Dark album. For those not familiar, you can find the track here: http://tinyurl.com/bjczbu6
 
As I listen to that song, things stop around me. It occurs to me, one again, how blessed I am to be alive today. Gratitude to God rises in my heart and tears start to glaze over my eyes.
 
Years ago, as a high school student not far from Cleveland, my chemistry teacher mentioned to our class that he’d had car trouble the other day. He also mentioned he’d started to laugh on the side of the road.

We asked him what was so funny. Nothing was funny, he said. We asked him why he laughed. His reply intrigued me: “You can either laugh or cry, so you might as well laugh.”
 
Sometimes people say things that you take to heart and adopt as a personal standard by which you want to live your life.
 
I don’t remember much about my chemistry teacher. All I remember is the day he got ready to perform an experiment in front of the class using chemicals and probably a flame or mechanized device. He told those sitting in the front row—which included me—that we might want to get up and stand back a few feet. When we asked why, he said it was because standing too close could render us sterile. Within a split-second, all of us guys in the front row had bolted from our seats and left plenty of leeway. As a 16-year-old guy, you don’t know everything you want in life, but you know you want your swimmers.
 
But I digress…
 
“You might as well laugh.” I’m a Gen-Xer, and Gen-Xers have radar for detecting insincerity. This teacher wasn’t trying to sound clever. His reply was genuine. It sounded like a solid idea to me.
 
That day, I adopted it as my own.
 
I try to make people laugh. It’s a fun challenge. But I also enjoy hearing laughter because it means the person’s life just got better. I don’t know where they’re coming from in life, but for that moment, I know their life has a shimmer to it. (So today, I got to dance *NSYNC style for my friend Karis.)
 
Life is good. We have so much to be thankful for, even on the rough days. It’s in our perception.
 
Sometimes we have dark seasons in life. Or a gritty circumstance. Or a bad day.
 
I have a blunt sense of humor, often pointing out the ridiculous aspects of the negatives, just to spite those negatives.
 
But finding humor in negatives also requires you, by definition, to focus on the negatives. Sometimes the negatives can creep in and build up inside that way.
 
Oftentimes, whether I’m in the midst of a rough stretch or simply pay attention to negative words that have escaped my mouth over recent weeks, and I discover I’m on a treadmill. I’ll reach the point where I say, “Okay, stop!”
 
In those moments, I’ll often look up to God and say, “I’m sick of talking about the bad stuff. Thank You for everything that’s right in my life. Thank You for everything that’s going well.
 
I’ll make myself find five simple things to be thankful for. Random things that are easy to overlook. It’s amazing the little things that make life so rich:  Hot water. The light that hangs in my living room. A flannel shirt. The scent of wet pavement during a summer rain. The way my brother Mike’s handprint feels when he gives me a pat on the back to let me know we have a bond.
 
That artist Jason Gray? I heard him in a recent radio interview. What a testimony. Many people don’t know this, but that guy—the artist who sings “Good to be Alive” with such fervent passion and strength—fights a stuttering issue. Not an occasional stutter—a severe one. It’s noticeable in almost every sentence he speaks. Yet he fights the fear, takes his stand, and sings about how wonderful life truly is. When he sings, the words come through flawlessly. People who press through barriers inspire me.
 
A Way To See In The Dark
 
We have a big God.
 
We’re not alive by accident. You and I could have been born any other time. But God let us be born today.
 
2013 will be a good year. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what’s coming.
 
Never give up!
 
John Herrick
 
Today’s playlist:  “Good to be Alive” by Jason Gray


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

INSPIRATION | Wandering in Circles


It seems I’ve spent many years of my life going around in circles.
 
In your job or other areas of responsibility, do things operate in cycles? Do you catch yourself saying, “Yep, it’s February. That means it’s time to do X again, and we need to do it in Y fashion because that’s the way it needs to be done”? And can you remember sitting in that same spot last year saying the same thing? It might be a seasonal project, or the end of a fiscal year, or for students, final exam time.
 
If you’re a creative person (or maybe not), it can drain your creativity. When you realize you’ve traveled in the same circle over and over again, it can trigger a quick re-evaluation of your life. It can become painfully obvious that you’ve fallen short of your goals. Or it can cause you to wonder if you’ve harmed your future by staying in one spot for what feels like far too long.
 
Around and around. Nothing appears to change.
 
But the key word in that sentence might be “appears.” After all, things aren’t always what they appear to be.
 
I’m in some cycles right now.

So a few minutes ago, I got back from a walk on a cold, winter evening in St. Louis. As I walked, I got honest with God like I often do. And I figure He knows everything about me anyway, so my attitude with Him was, “Lord, why do I need to go through the same crap over and over again? Other people get to move forward with X or Y, and but I need to spend more time in this cycle that doesn’t seem to change.”

For those of you who read my blog and aren’t already aware, I’m a Christian, albeit one who’s pretty far from perfect. Whatever goes on in my life, I tend to view it through the lens of faith, the Bible, and those bits of revelation God gives you along the way. And I believe big time that God has a long-range plan. So much so, that I’ve said to Him many times, “I sure hope You’ve got my life and calling and job details taken care of, because if You don’t, I’m in big trouble!”

Maybe ten minutes later after mentioning the cycle thing, God reminds me of a Bible verse about the potter and the clay:
 
“Does clay talk back to the potter: ‘What are you doing? What clumsy fingers!” (Isaiah 45:9 The Message)

“Yep, You’re right God.” God has a plan. He’s shaping the future.

Then, another mile or so into my walk, it got even better.

Have you ever seen a potter using a pottery wheel? It starts out as a lump. It spins around and around, and not much seems to happen. Just the same thing, over and over. Talk about boring, not to mention slow.

At first, it doesn’t look like the spinning does that clay any good. But soon, as the potter uses his hands, the clay starts to take shape. You can’t detect a big difference with each individual revolution, but combine those cycles together …

It gains height. More revolutions. The body gains a unique shape. More revolutions. A lip forms along the top. And so on.
 
With each revolution, further refining takes place.

More often than we prefer, the cycles in our lives seem like such a waste of time. We don’t see progress. But maybe that’s just the way it appears.
 
Maybe the truth is different. Could it be that, with each cycle. God is fine-tuning the nuances of our lives, adding patience here, adding endurance there, tweaking a skill or attitude there. And we might not see the payoff until years down the road—when we’re glad we went through that mundane process. We learned what works well. We also learned what doesn’t work well.

With some things, I’m so glad I learned from a mistake when the mistake didn’t matter much. Maybe God knows if I’d made that same mistake in a future scenario, it would have cost an awful lot.

I’m thankful God works those mistakes in our favor too. I’ve learned He can work all things together for my good, even when I’ve screwed up to an extent only He can repair:
 
“But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make” (Jeremiah 18:4 NASB).
 
What? The clay shifted out of place and its arm fell off? Perhaps you made a major mistake. Or maybe a friend or loved one broke your heart, left a gaping hole, and doesn’t really care that the broken piece is just sitting on the dirty ground.
 
Whatever it is, the Potter can work that piece of clay back into the vessel. And when He does, what’s fascinating is that oftentimes, no one else can tell anything went wrong. It looks as if your life came together like it was supposed to.

Probably because the Potter knew the mistakes we’d make before we’d ever made them—and just worked them into His plan when He mapped out our lives. (“Okay, we’re gonna need to factor in a pit stop right there…”)

So we go around and around and around. And with each revolution, we get refined a little more … and a little more … and a little more …

Your life does matter. You’re never beyond hope.

I’ve clung to that truth so often, I’ve lost count. I hope it was the exact encouragement you needed today.

Never give up!

John Herrick
johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com

Today’s playlist: Hunter Hayes, Hunter Hayes (LOVING this album!)


Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Landing Now Available for Kindle

I hope your new year is going well!

The Landing is now available as a Kindle ebook at http://tinyurl.com/ax6zamh. Thanks to everyone who has asked about it and for those who have spent time with the book so far.

Pieces of a fourth novel have grabbed my heart and swirled in my brain on a heavy basis for the last month or so. As usual, it has resulted it a stack of notes written on random slips of paper and napkins! My goal is to sketch out all the details this year and hopefully finish a first draft. We'll see how that goes. Meanwhile, the third book is being read by early readers. It could turn out the fourth book gets released first, who knows. That's what happened the first time around!

Never give up!

John Herrick
johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com

Today's playlist: R.E.D. by Ne-Yo

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers: The Landing by John Herrick

Much thanks to the "chef" at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers blog for reviewing my novel The Landing! http://tinyurl.com/bcna533

Never give up!

John Herrick
www.johnherrick.net
johnherricknet.blogspot.com

Today's playlist:  Letting Go by Jennifer Knapp