Yesterday ended the formal 500 Words challenge that I signed up for in January. It was a whirlwind month as the days passed so quickly. I did manage to meet the goal of writing 500 words daily, whether it was a blog post or the work on my book. Now we come to the end of the month; and while you might think I’m ready to see I’m glad that’s done, it really isn’t an end. It’s a beginning. A beginning of new habits, a new outlook on life, and a new sense of purpose.

When I signed up for this challenge, I had no idea how it might change things in my life. I hoped it would spur me on to write more and work on my book a little. I went into the challenge committed to doing the activity and was prepared to do the work to make that happen. Somewhere along the way, it became so much more than that.

Sometime during this challenge, discussion was held on our Facebook group about finding the time to write. The challenge was to get up early, use that time in the early morning to do our writing. I work from home, so I haven’t been an early-to-rise kind of person in the past. It’s so easy to get up, hit the brew button for the coffee, and come to my office just in time to start the work day. I explored the thought and ended up getting a book by Andy Traub called The Early To Rise Experience. Putting the two challenges together has really added to the experience. I now find myself up at 5:00 in the mornings, ready to greet the day (okay, after my first cup of coffee), and it has made a huge difference in my days. This part of the challenge completely challenged my former belief that I do my best writing at night. I find my words flow much easier in the mornings. I also find this gives me morning quiet time for reading, prayer and reflections.

About three-fourths of the way through the challenge, I remember looking at the outline for my book and realizing I had written every chapter on my outline. With that came several emotions. Amazement that it was done, excitement that it would soon be ready to share with others, and then a bit of fear that I now had something ready to send to my reviewers. All of those things were good things, and just led to the next step in a process.

I must admit that I did not rush to send my book off to reviewers. This is when the resistance rared its ugly head and fear crept in. What if they hated it? What if they told me no one would want to read it? Maybe I wasn’t really done with it. After all, I have been working on this for two years so surely it isn’t really done. Then I was reminded of words from both Andy Traub’s book as well as words from Seth Godin–ship it. And so, with great trepidation, I wrote the emails, attached the file and hit the send button. I believe I also hyperventilated for a good hour after doing that. Still, it is shipped, it is out to the reviewers. I learned in this challenge that you can beat the resistance when it rares its ugly head.

As we went into the final week of the challenge, Jeff Goins made a trip to Uganda and began posting to his blog about his trip with Compassion. His posts and the posts of the other bloggers on that trip touched my heart as I read about the families and children being helped by this organization. My husband and I read the stories, talked about it, prayed about it, and this week we have also signed up to sponsor a child in Uganda. We have been given so much, and this is a way to bless someone else. I look forward to supporting this child and learning more about the country. If you haven’t ever visited the Compassion site, I encourage you to do so. There is so much that can be done to help with very little on your part.

As a result of this challenge, I have also made better connections with some of my team members in my business. We found amazing connections in our faith and in the mission work of supporting children in other countries. If not for this challenge, that might not have occurred.

As I come to this new beginning in life, I am filled with gratitude. I am grateful that two authors had a vision to create these challenges, grateful for the daily prompts that pushed me to do it, and grateful for the opportunities that the changes in life will create. I cannot wait to see what comes next!

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