Monday, April 12, 2010

Recipe for Success

I've made the recipe dozens of times. It was to be our entree for the evening served with salad, broccoli and a heaping bowl of fresh fruit. As I added each ingredient to the recipe, I made a shocking discovery, the milk needed to moisten the crust, was sour. What to do? I could drive to the grocery store and get another gallon of milk - after all, we'd need it in the morning anyway. But that seemed like a bit of a hassle. I scoured my cupboards for powdered milk that I could use as a substitute. There it was on the top shelf behind the honey, and any number of rubs used for grilling.

With the clever substitute mixed into the crust, I popped the sloppy-joe casserole into the oven. Hopefully no one would notice! But I noticed. Although the crust was light and fluffy, it had that distinct powdered milk aftertaste, that didn't leave me begging for more. Sometimes creativity in a recipe can be good, this was definitely not one of those times! Next time, I'll skip the short cut and go to the store to get the ingredient I'm missing, so the recipe turns out right.

Many things in life require that I follow a 'recipe' of sorts in order to be successful. Writing is no exception. Planning, goal-setting, persevering, and praying are some of the 'key ingredients' necessary to produce a winning piece.

In the planning stage, it's important for me to be realistic in evaluating what it will take to complete my project, whether it's an article, a Bible study, or a devotional series. Do I have what it will take to see the project through to completion? The Bible refers to this 'planning stage' as counting the cost. Using the example of building, Luke instructs, "For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?" (Luke 14:28; KJV).

Part of planning includes setting goals. My goals for article writing are different than the goals I create when writing a devotional series. Goals should be realistic and measureable. Challenging, yet attainable. After consulting my calendar and crossing out the holidays, vacation days and special occasions, I have a basic idea of what my year will look like. With a bit of forethought, I can begin penciling-in my writing projects and set myself up for success. I may decide that I have time to post 2 devotional blogs per week, write eight articles this year, and complete three books of a nine book devotional series. For some, this would be a walk in the park, for others, this would be a stretch. Find what works for you and then stick with it!

When the third ingredient is mixed in with the proper measurements of the first two, there's a good possibility that your dream will be on its way to becoming a reality. Perseverance. The dictionary definition of 'persevere' is "To persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement." When faced with an obstacle, we can either choose the easy way out and quit, or dig our heals in, and keep going.

Accountability partners go a long way toward keeping us on track. They are familiar with our weaknesses and are there to walk and talk us through the tough times. When we're discouraged, there's nothing quite like having a cheerleader who can help pick up the pieces and encourage us to continue moving forward. Years ago, the Apostle Paul shared the importance of this concept, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ" (Galatians 6:2)

The final ingredient is prayer. In reality, it needs to be the main ingredient liberally sprinkled throughout the entire process. Pray prior to planning, prior to goal-setting, and especially when you hit the proverbial 'bumps in the road.' I think of Paul's directive to the Philippians, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6). The great God of the universe bids us to come before Him in prayer - to seek clear direction and wisdom for the task He's called us to.

Are you ready to blend these four ingredients: prayer, planning, goal-setting and perseverance? Mix equal parts planning, goal-setting and perseverance with a double portion of prayer and be prepared for successful results!

Do you have a 'recipe' for success? Whether you're a writer, or God has called you to a different task, I'd love to hear about the 'ingredients' you mix together for success!


  1. I have to agree; these ingredients are essential. Blessings to you for sharing:)

  2. Great recipe. I would only add being totally open to GODS direction and leaping in faith with HIM!
    Blessings, andrea

  3. Loved this! thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank you Maria, love the analogy, as you know I like cooking and often pray over my pots.

    Have a blessed week. xxx

  5. Hi Maria!
    I do have a "recipe" that I speak about. I call it Recipe for Rejoicing. Following 8 steps, it takes us from starting with the end in mind, the ingredients and utensils to a life pleasing to God, through the furnace (oven), to the final presentation and cleanup.

    I love this illustration.

  6. I love it that you included prayer in the writing process, as God who is creative, made us in His image, and through prayer we can access his creativity. Aren't you glad we aren't just writing on our own? Thanks for a great post.

  7. I'm a planner too. With prayer and calculations, I set my course. The food looks delicious!!

  8. Really good blog...nice posts...good comparison in this one about following directions. I'm your newest follower. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Karen - Thanks for stopping by! Have a beautiful weekend. God bless!

    Andrea - Great 'ingredients' to include! Hope you have a blessed weekend!

    KC - Welcome! It's always so encouraging to have someone new visit my blog! Hope you stop by often! God bless you as you do all for His honor & glory. Have a fantastic weekend!

    Warren - I always appreciate your words of encouragement! Have a blessed weekend!

  10. Raymonde - What an excellent idea to pray over our pots! That's truly doing ALL things 'heartily as unto the Lord!' Enjoy your weekend! God bless!

    Susan - I'd love to read your article/post - Recipe for Rejoicing! Sounds really good! Have a blessed weekend!

    Glenda - Thank you for the words of encouragement! It IS good to know that we're not just 'writing on our own!' What a relief! Hoping you have a beautiful weekend!

    Jill - Prayer and calculation - great 'ingredients' to include in the writing process! Have an amazing weekend!

  11. Stan - Welcome! I appreciate your kind words!Thank you for following my site! I was able to swing by yours and look forward to reading your posts. Enjoy your weekend and God bless you!

  12. I think vinegar turns milk sour:) Good plan! I persevere, set my goals and pray lots!

  13. Maria,

    Great to have you visit over at The Sword and the Rose!

    I am dairy/gluten free and I have found that liquid non-dairy creamer often makes a good milk substitute if you have that around the house!

    Some who are allergic to dairy can't use that as it has sodium casienate in it, but it has worked well for us. It isn't the healthiest thing in the world, but I've not noticed much of a difference when baking or cooking with it!

    God bless!

  14. You are quite a cook! ;)
    Have a beautiful weekend sister!
    With joy,

  15. I really enjoyed looking over your blog and well written posts. God bless, Lloyd

  16. Maria, this is timely for me. Thank you for sharing such a great recipe. I'm wrestling with some writing planning right now, and this is just what I needed to be reminded of.

  17. You have very good ingredients. The only one I would add is A LOT of hard work. I never realized before I started writing just how hard I'd have to work to get better. It's been worth it though.

  18. Hi Maria -

    Yoohoo - we miss you! Hope everything is okay.

    Susan :)

  19. Maria, this is absolutely wonderful!
    Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with this excellent recipe.

    Love & Blessings,

  20. I enjoyed your blog. Great teaching

    God Bless, Bob West