Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Happy Thanksgiving week, friend.  I love having a week devoted to thankfulness as we head toward Christmas.  It’s a chance to set our hearts to gratefulness mode before we celebrate the greatest gift ever given–Jesus!

This week I’d love to employ all our voices in giving thanks here in our little speaker-girl community.  I’m going to start us off, but please leave a comment about something that has your heart overflowing with thankfulness this week.

Leaving a comment will enter you in a drawing for an Encouragement for Today devotion book (Click here to Tweet)

I’m thankful for…

  • A God so powerful He created the world with His Words.
  • God’s gift of words to us.
  • All the men I share a household with–love you Barry, Anson and Nolan!
  • A space where speaker-girls can connect, bond and grow.
  • All my Next Step clients this year and the messages they share.
  • That God’s Word is being spread in a country that’s free.
  • For this American celebration, rooted in gratitude to God.
  • Each one of you reading this today!!

Your turn!  Pour out your hearts, friends, and let’s encourage each other.

Happy Thanksgiving!




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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Well-Seasoned Messages

This week I’m working on a daunting writing project.  Mostly it’s overwhelming because I consider myself more of a speaker than a writer.  Crafting written words continues to be a big learning curve.

It occurs to me,  however, that there is one area in which I’m not struggling.  The message I’m being asked to write is well-seasoned because it’s my personal story.  I don’t have to work at coming up with illustrations since I’ve been living this message most of my life.

Great messages are always well-seasoned, simmered in prayer, time and thought. (Click here to Tweet)

Jennifer Rothschild says we’re to shoot for crock pot messages instead of microwave messages, and I think she has it just right.  As stewards of a message, we need to be learners before we become teachers.  (Click here to Tweet)

For me, that means allowing God to speak to me through His Word–Bible study, commentaries, and much prayer–before I write one word of a message.  The faithfulness of God never ceases to amaze me when I’ll honor Him by humbling myself as a learner.  He brings all kinds of things into my path to season my messages.  There will be a sermon with just the right phrase, a devotion with a heart-rending story, a personal interaction that becomes an application…the list goes on and on.

In this season when we anticipate the fragrances of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pies wafting from our laden kitchens, let’s determine to create well-seasoned messages. The Master Chef can be counted on to make them irresistibly  tasty to our audiences!


Note:  I wrote about how I’m learning more and more about the craft of writing.  Today I didn’t intend to do a plug for Compel , Proverbs 31 Ministries’ new subscription writing training,  but I can’t help myself.  I am a subscriber, and I cannot begin to tell you how much the lessons from Lysa TerKeurst, Lisa Allen and Glynnis Whitwer are helping me.  Please, please take a few minutes to take a tour of the information page.  I think this is a tremendous opportunity and value for writers at all stages.

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Christmas Lists

I don’t know how this goes at your house, but my boys are already beginning sentences with phrases like, “I’ve been thinking about my Christmas list…”  or  “If you’re thinking about what to get me for Christmas…”  So we’re already thinking about Christmas in the Carroll household.  :)

Our family loves Christmas.  All of it.  Proclaiming Jesus is definitely central, but the joy of the lights and decorations and the gifts is all wrapped up in the celebration.

I want to share something I got in an email the other day from my former client and friend, Laura Naiser that made me light up like a Christmas tree!

laura's headshot“Thank you so much for helping me get clear on the vision for this ministry.  I keep my bio sheet pinned to the bulletin board by my computer and look at those values statements we crafted before I write my blog posts and as I’m writing my first talk.  I can’t imagine doing this without the benefit of your coaching.” ~Laura Naiser


I love, love, love the coaching I do, but I’ve got to tell you, that girl is stellar.  We had a great time working together working on a tagline, values statement and content for her bio sheet.  I love her tagline, and her graphic artist used it in a genius logo.  Check it out.

MIRM logo color tagline

Don’t you love it?!  (Ya’ll my techie-challenged self struggled with this…Laura’s tagline is “Real Life at the Intersection of Truth and Grace”.)  If you’d like to see more of Laura’s hard work in developing her ministry, click here to visit her new blog.

Maybe by now you’re beginning to hatch an idea for your Christmas list too.  A gift certificate from Next Step Speaker Services is a Christmas gift that invests in YOUR gift!  (Click to Tweet) Next Step Speaker Services has gift certificates available for speakers or writers and you can pick a price point that fits your Christmas budget–from a single coaching call to longer services.  Click here to read through our menu of services.

Anyone who wants to “surprise” you with a gift certificate can email me directly at .  I’ll be right back in touch to set it up!


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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Building Community

I am a typical extrovert.  Interactions with others fuel me, and I start to fade without them.

This is particularly true in ministry.  My best ideas come from conversations with my friends, Next Step clients or ministry colleagues.  Interactions with people in close community feed our souls and fuel our ministries. (Click to Tweet) Even if you’re an introvert, speaking or writing can get to be a very lonely existence when disconnected from others in your field.

Often it’s hard to connect your friends and family into your ministry dreams, because their dreams may be very different.  Because of this, it’s important to begin to build a community of people around you who share your goals, hopes and dreams.  I’ve been thinking about my communities for which I’m exceedingly grateful, and I’d love to encourage you to build your own.  Here are some tips and thoughts.

  • Seek out or start a writers’ group.  A couple of years ago, a writer friend invited me to her small writers’ group, and I’ve attended ever since.  Ours isn’t a critique group.  We mainly function to inspire and encourage each other, but that’s exactly what I need.  You can find a group or form a group to meet your needs too.  There’s lots of information out there about how to form a writers’ group. Click here to read a link with a great description on how to start a group.
  • Start an action group.  Michaela, my sweet intern, told me about a group she has with a group of other speakers in her homeschool speaking co-op.  They met as an accountability group to set goals as a group and individually.  Each one would report progress at the next meeting.  My friend Cindy and I have formed a group of two :)  to work through Michael Hyatt’s Platform.  We’ve stalled a little in going through the book as we work on new websites, but we are going through section by section, discussing the book’s content, making action steps and sharing our progress.  We’ve also been giving each other feedback which is a tremendous help.  You can’t imagine how I lit up yesterday when she told me she loves my new tagline!  (I’ll invite you to the unveiling in a couple of weeks!)
  • Form a prayer group.  There’s nothing more powerful than prayer to unite a group.  Invite friends in ministry to come together and pray for each other regularly.  You could cover upcoming events or projects as well as praying over individual’s needs and taking time for corporate worship.
  • Be generous.  This isn’t a concrete step but rather an attitude to develop in order to form strong community.  Jeff Goins is writing a lot about generosity, and I encourage you to visit his blog.  He is an incredible example of growing community and ministry simply by starting with an open and generous heart.

Are you a part of a community that feeds your soul and fuels your ministry?  We’d love to hear about it!

Also, we’d love for you to join Next Step in our social networking community.  We’re on Facebook and Twitter, and you’ll find daily encouragement built around the theme in our weekly blog posts.




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