Archive for February, 2005

I Do What I Can Do

February 16, 2005

Today it hit me again. It’s one of my strong operating principles about this publishing life. I try to do what I can do and leave the rest of it in God’s capable hands. I fully realize it’s impossible for me to do everything that needs to get done.

In the last few days, I’ve touched base with a number of people via email. Some of those people have been responding and one or two of them have been calling me.  My phone rang this afternoon and it was a guy who had lost my business card and phone number. Thankfully I didn’t lose his information and I wrote to him. 

Months ago I interviewed him for one of my books. He asked, “Did that book get finished?”

“I believe so. I haven’t seen it but I believe it’s out there,” I hedged in my response. While my part of the project is completed, I haven’t seen the finished work. This person was interested in buying a large quantity of this particular book. I sensed this large potential sale and I passed the information along to the appropriate people—but the sale never sent through and the deal was never closed.  There are a million different reasons why it never happened—and all of them out of my immediate control. This sale is not a lost cause and could still happen down the line but didn’t happen at the beginning of the project. In some ways, I shook my head—then I remembered my philosophical statement—I can only do what I can do. And I felt better.

Any type of publishing is a consensus building process. In the magazine world, you have to work with your editor. That editor has to work with other editors and designers to produce the best possible magazine. In children’s books, you have to work with your acquisitions editor. This editor has to convince a number of others inside the publishing house before the book appears in print.  After a book gets into print, sales and marketing have to get behind the book. The retailer has to purchase the book from sales and stock it in the bookstores. Special sales have to move the book into various markets outside the bookstore. Word of mouth has to get going and people have to be buzzing and talking about the book. The press has to be talking about the books in different media like newspapers, television, radio and print. It’s almost a domino effect. If one or several of the dominos aren’t in alignment, then the book doesn’t get into people’s hands and it doesn’t sell. Many things can derail this process along the way. It’s much more than one person.

Several years ago, I was involved with a book which I thought would naturally sell a ton of copies. The author was well-known in certain segments of the market. Publicity got behind the book and this author did almost 100 radio interviews during the time the book was released. The author even produced a short tract from his book and with a team of people handed thousands of these tracts out to people. I worked with the author and made sure the tract matched the cover of the book—and the tract included order information about the book.  The impact? The sales were limited for this book.  What happened?

Looking back I’m unsure. I know I did what I could do—but it takes a team. Who knows if sales were able to convince bookstores to carry this particular book. And if sales sold the book, how many copies did they sell? One or two? When they sold, did the retailer have the right inventory control to quickly restock the book? Or did that process take several weeks or months or never happen? There are many places in the selling chain of a book or a magazine or any product, where it can break down.

Part of me was bothered with my phone conversation today. It was somewhat of a missed opportunity. I tried to do what I could do—I called the publisher and reminded them of this opportunity. I followed up my phone call with an email including the information. I did what I can do.

Now the hard part, I’ve got to leave the results in God’s hands.

You may be facing all sort of challenges with your writing today. You may have articles in circulation and be getting rejected. You may have book proposals that you can’t sell. You may have fiction manuscripts where you’ve worked long hours and they are not finding a home and all you are getting is form rejection letters. Are they in circulation? Then applaud and feel good. You are doing what you can do. If the manuscripts are still tucked inside your file drawer, you’d better get moving.


Change or Stay the Course?

February 15, 2005

Some routines feel delicious and familiar.  For example, I love to get up early in the morning, make some coffee and read my Bible then my newspaper.   The coffee cup feels familiar and I love the routine of the experience.  I find this familiar routine carries over in my writing. It’s easiest (but not always best) to follow the same familiar course.  It’s easy to write for the same magazines or book publishers or write the same type of material.  Change isn’t easy for anyone but it’s how we grow as writers.

Last night I began to consider this topic (again) as I read the Editor’s Note in the March Entrepreneur magazine from Rieva Lesonsky, the Editorial Director.  Her article, Change Is In The Air, was focused on telling the reader about the magazine redesign. Her last paragraph is what struck me [and you can substitute writer or editor for the word “entrepreneur], “Most people think all entrepreneurs automatically embrace change. But the truth is, while some jump at the chance to transform, others fear the unknown. As change advocates, we strongly believe change should play a major part in all entrepreneurs’ businesses, for as noted author Gail Sheeny once wrote, “If we don’t change, we don’t grow.”

As a writer and editor, I want to constantly be evaluating my work. Is something working or not? How can I change and grow in this situation? It’s a continual process of growth.  Last night with my wife, we began to discuss some recent lessons from the past—just to make sure I’ve fully learned from those experiences. It’s simply stubborn to continue the familiar routine if it’s not taking me where I want to go with my writing and editing life. The key is to be discerning and try and know when to change and grow.

The March issue of Entrepreneur includes a terrific article by Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager called Mind Over Market. I suspect this article will be online in a month or so but isn’t at the moment. It talks about having a market mind-set. In a sidebar, it included the Guerrilla Marketing Creed encouraging the reader to keep it where you could see it all the time.  These words are also relevant for writers and editors. You can keep the word “market” or you could substitute “writer” for some added insight:

I Am Committed To Marketing. I will always think of my customers’ needs and desires first, and shape my business, products and services around them


I Will Approach My Thinking Creatively, using my talents and all available resources to develop the best solutions for clients and customers.


I Will Always Strive To Improve My Marketing Knowledge, seeking new and innovative ways to develop products and services and ways to communicate with customers and prospects.


I Will Give My Customers And Prospects The Proper Attention, all the time. This will be done in a proactive manner, not a reactive one.


I Will Continue To Seek Out New Business Opportunities. These include strategic alliances, fusion marketing, joint ventures, cooperation and other partnerships.


I Will “Think Marketing” all the time.

Do I have it all figured out? Not even close. I continue to learn and grow as a writer and editor.  One of the continual themes is the focus on the reader for my writing efforts. It’s the needs of the reader and the needs of the editor which will make a difference in my ability to be published or to continue to get rejected.

Join the Overcomers

February 14, 2005

Some times I surprise other writers about what I read and where I learn more about publishing.  My work is primarily in the spiritual/ inspirational/ religious/ Christian marketplace for the majority of my writing. You can pick your label but if you look at what I’ve written it’s pretty obvious from most of my writing such as Teach Yourself the Bible in 24 Hours.

Because of my journalism training, I continue to learn from many different places.  There is a fairly constant theme from the lives of many well-known and lesser known writers: each one has overcome some remarkable obstacles in their path and journey.  About twelve years ago, I was writing a lot of author profiles about different authors. Reading through a news release from a publisher,  I learned an author had overcome severe dyslexia yet continued writing. Bodie Thoene’s determination as a writer continues to provide inspiration and encouragement to me. Follow the link and you can learn more about it.  Or many people have forgotten the personal story of pain that bestselling author Frank Peretti told in The Wounded Spirit, which is one of his few nonfiction books.

Last week I was reminded of this principle again with the announcement of Arthur Miller’s death.  Through reading Power Line, I discovered this story from the Los Angeles Times (written in 2000) about Miller. The story begins, “If the young Arthur Miller ever thought he was “The Man Who Had All the Luck,” he learned otherwise when his play with that title closed after only four performances, in the playwright’s Broadway debut in 1944.” and it ends with some interesting insight for writers in this quote from Arthur Miller, “Every play has a secret. This one has a deep one. It’s a combination of fantasy and reality–and you’ve got to strike the balance just right.”

Or make sure you catch this phrase in the lead paragraph of the MSNBC story about Miller, “Arthur Miller never stopped writing.” His early experience in playwriting could have discouraged him to the point that Miller quit writing. Instead, he pushed beyond this experience and joined the overcomers.  It drove him to write plays like “Death of a Salesman” and “The Crucible.”

I appreciated the insightful interviews with writers which Terry Gross put together last year in her book, All I Did Was Ask : Conversations with Writers, Actors, Musicians, and Artists. Like almost any book of this nature, the overcomer theme was throughout the pages.

Each of us face our own daily challenges in the writing life.  If you need encouragement, possibly you can find it in Marvin Olasky’s article, How to Become A Good Writer. Are you choosing to persist and overcome? Possibly the painful experience of the present (or your past) can become something precious for your writing. It is in my life.

Advance Buzz

February 13, 2005

This weekend I caught some buzz stirring among some fiction authors.  I’m on an email group as a part of the American Christian Fiction Writers (excellent group with many benefits).  A member of the group posted a link to this article entitled, “How Much Does A Science Fiction or Fantasy Writer Make?” 

Some people might instantly respond, “I don’t write or read science fiction or fantasy. Why should I care?”

Throughout my years in publishing, I’ve never seen this type of data. Admittedly, the Internet makes gathering such information easy then it’s also easy to distribute it. I know science fiction and fantasy writing is an active genre of fiction. People have strong feelings about this genre—positive or negative. The quotation in the article which jumped out from my perspective was under the category of First Novel Advances: “The average was $6363.” Now that is a hefty advance from my experience —either as a writer or an editor. As one of my friends wrote to me, “Maybe I’ve better start writing science fiction.”

If you’ve never heard the term advance, I found a great definition on the Author’s Guild website: “An advance against royalties is money that your publisher will pay you prior to publication and subsequently deduct from your share of royalty earnings. Most publishers will pay, but might not initially offer, an advance based on a formula which projects the first year’s income.”

This definition matches my experience inside a publishing house. Typically before the publisher offers a book contract to an author, they try and project the sales of your book for the first year.  Asking their sales team, the publisher takes an educated guess at those numbers.  As an acquisitions editor at my previous publisher, I had to fill out a detailed P & L to project the actual costs of the book, the number of pages, the type of binding, the print treatments for the cover (such as foil stamping), etc.  With this information, I was able to calculate what I could offer for an advance on the book. As an author, you want your book to earn back the advance because then you will receive royalty checks or payment from the publisher as you sell additional books. Each publisher has a different accounting system. Some times they issue financial statements to their authors quarterly, other times twice a year and some times once a year.

I understand authors like to receive the largest advance possible. That strategy might not be the best one to pursue. If your advance earns out so you make additional funds, you will be a much more attractive author to your publisher—than the ones who don’t earn back their advance. It’s something else for you to consider when you reach this point in the process.

Some times I’m amused at the query letters I receive from would-be authors. They want to jump right into the discussion and learn about their potential royalty rate and advance—before they even tell me about their project. In those cases, the author is walking around with stars in their eyes—and not in reality.

As a would-be author, your first order of business is to convince the editor they need your manuscript. For first-time fiction authors, it means writing such a dynamic manuscript, I can’t help but turn the pages. For nonfiction, it means writing a book proposal which is so complete and perfect for my publishing house, that I need to call an internal meeting and get things rolling for others inside the publishing house to offer you a book contract.

It’s all fine to buzz and dream about your potential advance.  As a reality check, make sure you take care of first things first—and get the publisher to offer you a contract. Instead of thinking about the money and the earnings, focus on the idea. Who will it reach? Why is there a need? Why are you the best person on the planet to write this particular book?

If you work hard to answer these questions, it will give you a more realistic means to contact publishers and gain a hearing.

I Could Hear the Panic

February 12, 2005

When I answered the phone, I could hear the deep rumbling familiar voice.  It had been weeks or maybe months since I had talked with Bishop Porter.  Several years ago, I spent hours with this terrific man of God writing two books. I would drive to Denver from Colorado Springs, sit across from Bishop as we ate a meal and he would tell stories. I took those stories and wove them into two full-length books.

Over the last few years, we’ve not talked often. After some introductory remarks, he got to his reason for calling. With a bit of manic he asked, “Do you have the computer files on our book, Let the Walls Fall Down?” 

“I have them around somewhere, Bishop. They are likely in an old format and will need to be converted,” I said, “Why do you need them?”

“I’ve got to reprint that book real quick.” I probed a bit more to find out why he would have to reprint. To my knowledge the book is still in print with Creation House Press. It looked like Bishop Porter’s next call was going to be to the publisher to doublecheck about the availability of our book.

Why? Bishop Porter was one of several African American pastors on the Focus on the Family broadcast yesterday about Erasing Racial Divisions in the Church. These radio programs are syndicated and heard daily on more than 8,300 radio facilities in 25 languages in more than 164 other countries. At the end of the broadcast, Bishop Porter told me that our book, Let the Walls Fall Down was offered to each listener.

Suddenly I understood Bishop Porter’s urgency to make sure this book was in print. Millions of people probably heard about our work for the first time. It was a thrill and I hope the book reaches many people from the broadcast. Take some time to listen to this broadcast. You can do it online and at your convenience. It was informative and remarkable about the issue of racial reconciliation and what’s going on in the United States.

Some days we wonder about the impact of our words as writers.  We have good days where something wonderful comes along to encourage us. Other days aren’t so good and involve lots of hard effort to get something written or edited and out the door. Or maybe there is a problem that comes to our attention and needs resolution. Or maybe we get a series of rejection letters and wonder how to persist in this business.  I have the same mixture of positive and negative experiences. I believe it’s something called life and it’s almost inescapable.

Today I calmed the panic in Bishop’s voice to me. It was a good phone call to me—because without it, I probably would not have known about the broadcast and promotion of our book. It made for a pretty wonderful Friday.

More About the Full-time Leap

February 11, 2005

Yesterday I began writing about when to make the full-time leap into the writing life. It’s not a light step and (if possible) should be done with a great deal of planning and thought.

There is a common saying among the writing community and something you hear often from editors and at conferences, “Don’t quit your day job.” Over the years, I’ve watched countless people take the plunge into full-time writing.  Maybe they belong to an online writers group and leap out there. Then the emails begin to come to the group about their struggles to pay their monthly bills or their struggles to find work. I shake my head and know they didn’t spend enough thought before they took that leap into the full-time work.

I’d speculate the actual numbers of people who write full-time without another day job are pretty small. If you eliminate the people who have a spouse working full-time at a job and supporting their writing, the figure would be even smaller. I’m not going to be able to detail every aspect in this post but here are some aspects to consider:

1) Are you prepared to face some lean months (or even years)? Have you saved the resources for this possibility? Understand that the book publishing world moves slowly to make decisions and often it takes a while to land magazine assignments (even the smaller ones).

2) Are you a self-starter? Do you get things done without supervision? You will have to be able to do this key skill if you write full-time?

3) Do you have the business background to run your own business? Or at least a willingness to learn? You will have to create invoices, bill, follow up on late clients, build clients, and many other business related skills.

4) Are you willing to write anything? Or simply focused on one type of writing such as children’s writing or magazine writing? Too often, people who want to write full-time are focused on a singular type of writing. Are you willing to write public relations related materials, annual reports, brochures or newsletters? Or are you simply willing to write things where your by-line or name appears on the particular article or book? You will have to consider these decisions.  If you have decided only to write your own materials, I believe it’s the sure way to possible failure (in most cases). Flexibility will be helpful.

5) Are you willing to learn during the writing life? Or have you arrived? Your attitude will be key in this leap to full-time work.

6) Do you know if you have a talent for the writing life? Have you tested the market? I’m talking about getting published in the smaller magazines or newspapers or newsletters before you try and write a book.

We live in an instant gratification society. People want to be able to get it and get it now. This type of attitude isn’t realistic to make the leap into full-time writing.  It will be necessary to learn the business and learn it well. It will be necessary to apprentice in your craft and be mentored in the writing life.

I’ve only scratched the surface with this topic. Hopefully I’ve stirred some solid questions for you to consider. It’s a journey and each of us are on it. It begins with a single step.

When To Make the Leap

February 10, 2005

It’s a question I get asked fairly often: When should I make the leap into the writing world? Often the person who asks this question has never been published. Or when should I make the leap to full-time writing? The person asking this question may have been published a bit and they are asking going into it full-time.

It’s an easy question to ask but often I ask one in return: Do you really want to learn the answer? Are you willing to devote time and energy to learn and grow in your ability to write? I’ve found some people who are able and willing to roll up their shirt sleeves and dive into this world. Others aren’t.

For me, it’s kind of like going to the car mechanic and saying, “I’ve been thinking about being a car mechanic. I don’t have any training or information about it. It sounds like fun. When should I start?”

Sounds a little ridiculous huh? Yet people regularly approach the idea of writing in this fashion. For example, let’s consider children’s books.  Moms and Dads have stacks of these short children’s books which they read to their kids. Some of these parents are amazing storytellers and very animated and creative in their approach.  They decide to write a children’s book. It’s got to be simple right? Wrong. Children’s writers who practice their craft work long hours selecting the perfect words for their book. They have to do so because they only have a few words to use in the book. This type of selection is particularly critical in the picture books with only 24 or 32 pages and a tightly woven story.

Recently some writer used my submission form at Right-Writing and said something like, “I wrote a children’s book. How do I get it published?”  I didn’t answer this question. I had no idea where to begin to ask the questions:

Who was the audience? Did you have an audience in mind when you wrote it? Which age group? Is it for the Christian marketplace or the general marketplace? Educational or inspirational?

The children’s market is highly segmented. A board book for ages 0 to 2 is completely different in focus and shape than a picture book for ages 3–5. If you are going to write these types of books are you willing to learn the publishing distinctions then shape your work to fit the editor’s expectations? If not, then please don’t bother sending out your manuscript because you are simply going to waste your postage and be a part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Children’s books are a lot of fun and I’ve written my fair share of them. I hope to write some more in the days ahead but I definitely go into the marketplace with my eyes wide open about the necessity of meeting an editor’s need. I don’t simply open a blank file and begin to write. The field is much more complicated and involved.

If you are interested in children’s writing, I recommend you begin exploring Jill Esbaum’s exploring some basic tips. She’s got some terrific beginning tips and you will see that your journey in this area has only started. Like almost any type of writing, it will involve focusing on the particular audience, understanding that audience and market, then writing appropriate material for that market.

And if you’re wondering about what I have to say about making the leap to full-time writing?  In my next entry, I’m going to focus on this question with some tips and insight into the writing life.


Stress-Buster Tools

February 9, 2005

Have you ever spent hours on some small task then wondered where your day went? With the life of a writer and editor, I’ve had this experience repeatedly. Maybe it’s a computer snag that should take a few minutes and instead it absorbs hours. Possibly you’ve misplaced a significant piece of paper and you spend a lot of time looking for it. Or maybe that business card from an editor has been tucked somewhere and you can’t lay your hands on it now—and now is important because you are ready to call or email or mail to that particular person. Through the years, I’ve had this experience repeatedly in my publishing career.

Today I want to call your attention to three stress-buster tools to help your writing life. I know these tools have been helpful to me.  You may want to mark them so you can return to them often.

An Online File Conversion Service

A continual challenge to my writing life is in the area of file conversion.  Until a few years ago, I was one of the last writers who hung on to WordStar. This word processing program came with one of my first computers—an Osborne.  Yes, I was one of those folks with one of the first lug-able computers. I wrote a great deal of material on this machine. I even preserved some of my computer files and book projects from the old machine. How to convert them? I discovered this online file conversion service. It depends on what you need to convert but the service is instant and quick.

Yesterday I had a book-length manuscript to convert into an Adobe PDF file. I have Adobe Acrobat Professional 6.0 on my computer yet for some reason I could not get my Ms-Word file to convert to the PDF format. It may have been my computer memory or I’m unsure what else. I tried four or five times. Each time the program hung up and didn’t complete the job. I’ve never had this problem in the past with shorter files.  A simple job that should have taken minutes was stretching into several hours. I was frustrated. Then I recalled this online file conversion service. It would take my Ms-Word file and convert it into a PDF in a matter of minutes for $10.90. It was worth every penny from my view. Mission accomplished.

Google Desktop

Have you misplaced a file on your hard drive? I was talking about this issue with literary agent Steve Laube. He recommended down loading Google Desktop.  According to Steve, this program works behind the scenes on your computer to categorize the contents of every single word in every single file on your computer.  He recently had a file that he needed to find and had no idea where to locate it. He typed a unique phrase from the computer into this search tool and instantly the link appeared.  It’s been a continual time saver and stress-buster, according to Steve. Writers should check out Steve’s link page. It’s full of great resources. 


My final stress-buster tool has been BlogJet. As I’ve had ideas for future posts for The Writing Life. I don’t have to be online but I can pull up this tool and use it to write my thoughts.  For most of these posts, I’ve tried to save them on my hard drive, often printing them and reading through them one more time before posting them. And if I make a mistake, I can pull them back off the site, fix the error then repost them—all with simple clicks. If you have any type of blog, look into the free trial for this tool.

The stress for your writing life may come from a different place entirely. I’m constantly learning about new stress-buster tools. They may cost a bit in terms of financial investment but they pay dividends in time-savings and the ability to quickly move from one area into the next. It will keep your writing life on the move.


Eyes Wide Open

February 8, 2005

Several days ago I was sitting at my desk as the sun was setting over my shoulder. I tried to ignore the sound I could hear. It repeated over and over, “Who? Who?” 

I wondered, who is making that noise? I grabbed my flashlight and walked out in my yard to see the roof on our house.  Perched on the top of our chimney was a large desert owl.  I called my wife to see it. We watched as I played my flashlight over the owl, then it lifted it’s wings and moved away.  If I had ignored the sound, I could have missed an amazing experience.

Isn’t life and in particular the writing life like that? As I have new experiences (and they happen constantly), I can choose to learn from them or ignore them and be doomed to repeat them.

Yesterday I received the edited version of my book manuscript. This morning I’ll be reviewing those edits and answering any questions or clarifications embedded in those questions. It’s part of the drill to get a book ready to go to press. In one sense, I’m grateful to be one step closer to holding the finished book in my hands. In another sense, I’m dreading looking at all of the editor marks changing my copy. When I see those marks today, I face a choice. I can either ignore them and figure someone else will catch them next time I write. Or I could beat myself up about my terrible writer and editor skills and how I should have caught these things in the first place. The negative messages could swirl through my head and beat me down about myself and my writing. These negative thoughts could cripple my ability to write in the future. Or I can choose to learn from the experience, improve my writing and editorial skills for the next time.  I choose to learn from the experience of reviewing those edits and improve my writing for the future.

Rejection comes with the territory within publishing. I spent a bit of time yesterday processing manuscripts. Unfortunately there are only a few possible publishing spots and a great deal of material coming across my desk. I was not rejecting the writer. I love how James Scott Bell writes about rejecting rejection.

For me, the world is full of learning and lesson. I’m determined to keep moving ahead with my eyes wide open.


Mission Impossible

February 7, 2005

Some days it seems like the tune from Mission Impossible is constantly playing in the background of my life and work. Do you ever feel like that?

Disquieting voices tend to rise up inside and say words like “can’t” or “never.” Maybe it’s with a particular project or book or job or client or magazine piece or _______. You fill in the blank. I’ve been there in the past and I’m also there today—depending on the particular project.

When I consider the impossible, I recall a comment from Al Janssen, who has been in publishing many years in different roles as an editor and writer. Most recently, Al wrote a new book for Brother Andrew called Light Force: A Stirring Account of the Church Caught in the Middle East Crossfire. Late one night at a writer’s conference, Al and I were sitting around talking about books and he told me, “Terry, every time I sit down to write a book, I wonder if I’ll be able to write it.”  Talk about honesty! I have the same fears as I write.  For example, I work hard, create a proposal and get a book contract from a publisher—but I wonder if I’ll be able to pull it off. You’d think as many times as I’ve done it that inside I would hear a resounding yes. It never comes—instead I get doubts, fears and questions—every single time.

As an example, I think about my first collaboration book project with Chris Woehr called One Bright Shining Path, Faith in the Midst of Terrorism. In the early 90s, the Shining Path brutally killed a national translator in Peru, South America.  At the time, I was the manager of the editorial department at Wycliffe Bible Translators and in charge of their books, magazine and printed materials. I felt this story had to be told in book form and I was looking for the best writer to do it.

I called Philip Yancey and asked him to write this book for Wycliffe. He knew about the story and was interested in it but Philip has a busy writing schedule. The year before he had interrupted it to write a book about the Russian church—and he was determined not to interrupt his writing schedule again. He was polite but said no. I’ve heard the word no before and I was racking my brain trying to figure out who could write this book.  Back then the Wycliffe office was a mile and a half from the beach in Southern California. I went out for my lunchtime run and during that time, I reflected on my own experiences in Peru and this part of the world.  I had never written a full-length adult book but I knew I could taste the dust on those roads and I had been with the people and could describe them to the reader. It was like the Lord pulled on my heart and told me I could write this book. Chris Woehr and I combined our talents for this project and Crossway Books kept the book in print for many years.

That book looked impossible at different times.  The work was hard—in fact none of my books have been easy—even though going into them I’m optimistically thinking they will be easy. Each one takes a lot of energy and hard work. When I’m in an impossible situation, I try and reflect on the words of the Apostle Paul, when he pleaded for God to remove a thorn in his flesh. These words are some of the few in red (from Jesus) past the gospels in the New Testament, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9m NIV)