"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

7/29/10

Wondrous: Monday Manna for August 2


The purpose of Monday Manna is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word.

On the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse--posted here at my blog on the Thursday before, to allow you to chew on it over the weekend. It doesn't have to be long -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional. Just post it on your blog on Mondayish (early OR late is fine, by the way!), then come back here and link up in the Linky Tools gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

Just a note: because of the FaithWriters' conference, the second Monday Manna in August will actually be on the FOURTH Monday (August 23)

This verse really grabbed me the other day (so much so, that I did my Word-Filled Wednesday post on it yesterday!). Looking forward to exploring it further.
Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things! Psalm 72:18 NKJ
Looking forward to hearing your insights. See you Monday.

Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

7/28/10

Wondrous: Word-Filled Wednesday

Welcome to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted at The Internet Cafe. Be sure to click above for more visual inspiration from scripture.

Came across this verse in my Bible reading and it really spoke to me. Even the tough stuff is wondrous.

Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things! Psalm 72:18 NKJ

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to visit The Internet Cafe for more



Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

7/25/10

It's Confession Time

I'm emotional today.

It could be hormonal.

It could be because I'm tired.

Or it could be because the Lord is trying to break me--to make me see myself, and my sins, through the clarity of His Word and those who teach and preach it. And I might just be seeing it.

I hope it is the latter. But I really don't know, because I've felt this way before and the regret (I'm pretty sure that's all it was) passed and nothing changed. I don't want that to happen.

So I'm writing this out, for the world to see. So maybe, if it's just "that time of the month," I will still have it in black and white.

And I can reflect on it.

And I can confess it again.

And I can repent again.

And, eventually, I can see how far I have come, with His help.

^^^^^^^^^^
Heavenly Father, I am a sinner.

I care more about what others think than what You think.

I hate my sin - but for all the wrong reasons.

I am more disturbed by my son's behavior in public than I am in private.

I crave the praise of others.

I am more concerned with my own comfort than with teaching my children Your ways.

I get frustrated with others' transgressions, but blow off my own.

I serve You for the earthly accolades.

I think I can do it myself.

I would rather complain to others than turn to You.

I put my own selfish desires above Yours, and those who are closest to me.
For these sins, oh forgiving God, forgive me, pardon me, grant me atonement. And help me to truly repent from each of them.

 
Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

7/22/10

Why I Write...How About You?

Have I mentioned lately how behind I feel like I am?

My new bloggy friend Shellie Bailey put up a post at her blog Faith and Fiction last Thursday, asking writers to share why they write (she, of course, started the ball rolling here), and to link up at the bottom of her post.

Thought it sounded like a great idea at the time - and so I sat on it. And sat. And sat.

Until today.

TODAY, I'm actually doing it. So..without further ado...

WHY I WRITE
By Joanne Sher

PhotobucketI've been writing for a long time. I loved to make up stories as a child, and I was on my high school, college, and community newspaper staffs. I wrote lots in college (I was an English major, after all), and continued, at least to an extent, into my young adult years. It was something I enjoyed, and even, for a time, helped paid the bills.

It wasn't until I began my spiritual journey that would eventually lead me to Christ that my writing became a passion: a need.

It began as I read through the Bible for the first time. I typed out my thoughts--25 single space pages of them. I couldn't help it. The writing was as necessary as the reading. And it had a great effect on bringing me to Christ.

And then life happened. And scrapbooking. Yeah - scrapbooking. That was my creative outlet. Most of my writing at this point was the descriptions under the photos. Oh, yeah, and babies and toddlers. REALLY put a crimp in your time.

But that was only the beginning. Then my family got hit over the head with a 2x4 - also known as my husband's brain tumor and assorted complications. It ran my life. For a few years, I often say I used every bit of my creativity to keep our family together and relatively sane.

But one day, life slowed down a bit. I was out of crisis mode, and things were almost approaching something that could be considered normal. I felt like I needed an outlet for my creativity.

It was then that God, through a google search, led me to my current passion for writing. FaithWriters reenergized my love for writing, and introduced me to the possibility of doing so for God's glory. And I was sold.

So, why do I write? For His glory, and because it is my way, for now, of sharing Him with whoever will listen.

Oh - and cuz I like to do it (most of the time anyway!).
**

So - that was longer than I figured - but also very good for me, I think! I'd LOVE to hear all my writer friends' answer to this question. Post it in the comments, or do so on your blog and link up at Shellie's place!



Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

7/20/10

As Of Late (late!)

One of my VERY favorite websites, Exemplify Online, started a monthly meme on the 15th of each month that is an absolute FAVORITE of mine. (yeah, I know it's the 20th - gimme a break, eh?) Click here for details.


Check out Kristen's post from (uh, yeah) LAST THURSDAY for more "as of lates."

And now for mine:
  • Lately, I've been getting tons of spiritual nourishment from my blogging friends
  • Lately, I haven't been the best "worker at home"
  • Lately, my kids' energy level has dumbfounded me
  • Lately, I've been getting better at juggling several projects at once...as long as none of them involved housework! :( 
  • Lately, I've been trying to dream GOD'S dreams for me
  • Lately, I've been praising God for the big and small blessings of living in our neighborhood
  • Lately, I've been listening for His still, small voice - and sometimes even acting on it

What have YOU been up to as of late?

 
Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

7/19/10

How He Can Comfort Us: Monday Manna

The purpose of Monday Manna is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word.

On the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse--posted here at my blog on the Thursday before, to allow you to chew on it over the weekend. It doesn't have to be long -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional. Just post it on your blog on Mondayish (early OR late is fine, by the way!), then come back here and link up in the Linky Tools gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

This Monday's verse is a favorite and poignant one from the book of Psalms.
The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18 NKJV
Looking forward to reading your thoughts. Mine are below.

**

These verses have always been a comfort to me. I have had that broken heart, and I have felt Him near.

I was all ready to write something new for this Monday Manna post, but a poem I wrote quite a while back kept popping into my head. It helped me remember that the Lord's nearness can often come through His children.

I hope this blesses you.

Just The Other Day

Just the other day
I saw innocence speed by
in 3T overalls
a bright yellow shirt
Bob the Builder tennis shoes
and a fireman's helmet.

His blue and white tricycle
(with superhero trading cards
stuck in the spokes)
raced down the block,
bicycle bell ringing,
to come to the rescue
of cats stuck in trees
(do firemen still do that?)
and damsels in distress.

His fire hose twig
and boymade sound effects
triumphed over the flames
in grandiose fashion.

He was the hero
to his little sister
his stuffed dalmatian
and his imaginary friend Bud.

He was my hero too
for his reckless abandon
for his innocence
for his love of a pursuit
that had robbed him of a father.

As he napped on my chest
two years ago
(seems like yesterday)
his dada entered the flames
and entered heaven.

He wants to be like
the daddy he doesn't remember
to save the damsel in distress
to protect the world from the flames.

My little firefighter
showed me how to love
how to embrace a memory
how to honor a legacy
just the other day.
 **
 Thanks for reading! Be sure to link up, and/or read more thoughts on this verse, below.


 
Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

7/16/10

Crystal Clear: Fiction Friday

Fiction Friday,button,karlene


Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by ME! Make sure that you  link up with your own fiction below. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!),  check out the links below.
I wrote this piece (GASP!!) almost four years ago for the Writing Challenge. Taking a bit of a cue from my amazingly dear friend Catrina Bradley, this entry was the one that moved me from intermediate into advanced at the beginning of my challenge "career." The topic was vision. (I'm also thinking that there MAY be a challenge topic coming up soon that this piece could fit into - even though it's not allowed to use old stuff). 


Crystal Clear

The artistry of a sunset, with its deep reds, oranges and yellows, used to be my sustenance.

When I was depressed, I would go to the pond in my back yard and marvel at the beauty of the ripples on the water, the variety of wildflowers surrounding it, and the amazing diversity of the animals I saw. I would often see dragonflies, tadpoles, catfish, and even, occasionally, a deer enjoying an afternoon drink.

When I was bored, I would often drive up into the mountains, looking down with amazement at the city below, realizing what a small cog I was in this giant world. It always did wonders for my perspective.

Other times, I would pull out a book and engross myself in the imaginary world of the author. I found myself cheering for his heroes, crying and laughing along with them, and rejoicing at the injustices set right.

One of my greatest joys was looking into the eyes of my husband and telling him what a wonderful man he was, and how much I loved him. He has the deepest, most beautiful eyes I had ever seen.

I don’t do any of these things anymore, and haven’t for several years. And do you know what? I don’t miss them.

I have to admit, I used to. Who wouldn’t? After 35 years of being able to see, having your sight taken from you is quite a blow. But, I tell you, the good Lord has given me something better - MUCH better.

How did I lose my sight? To be honest, it’s really not important. The crucial question is: WHY did I lose it? Now, THAT question I will answer. I don’t know: at least not fully. I can tell you, however, that there is Someone who does know, and He has given me little glimpses over the past few years that have given me a peace I never had when these eyes were working.

People these days complain about being distracted by all the horrible images on television, and all those teenagers who walk around practically nude. I can say with confidence that, personally, I do not have any of those concerns.

I used to be one of the most independent people on this earth. I didn’t need anyone, and I could do anything. Now I am often dependent on others - which has helped me to learn to depend on the One who created me. There is nothing like needing someone to make you more aware of the needs of others, and how to meet them. I have become the servant that Christ had always wanted me to be, and all it took was the removal of one of my senses!

And, I know that I will be able to see again when I get to heaven (and I KNOW that’s where I’m going!), and it will be glorious. I don’t think there will be people more appreciative of the wonderful sights of our heavenly homes than those who could not see their earthly ones.

I often think of that wonderful hymn Amazing Grace and realize that it is true, in a very odd way, for me.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind but now I see.

You can see so much more clearly with heavenly eyes than you ever can with earthly ones. When I became blind, my world completely opened up to all I could, and will, see.

Instead of the colors of the sunset, I will see the sparkling glaze of the twelve foundations of the Holy City’s walls. (Revelation 21)

Rather than marveling at our pond and the foliage around it, I will sit by the River of Life and eat of its tree. (Revelation 22:1-2)

Instead of watching a city from above, I will live in the New Jerusalem, with streets of gold and gates of pearl. (Revelation 21)

Rather than reading books to be transported to new lands, I will be living the ultimate fantasy, one that no one can imagine or improve upon.

And, on those days when I miss looking into my husband’s eyes, I remember that, one day, I will be able to look directly into the most amazing eyes of all - the eyes of my savior, Jesus Christ.

I may have lost my sight, but, thanks to my wonderful Lord, my vision is crystal clear.

**

Thanks for reading! Please link up below, and/or read the wonderful writings you'll find in Linky Tools. :D



 
Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

7/15/10

He is Near - Monday Manna for July 19

First of all - I'm debuting a new Monday Manna button! A bit ago I decided I wanted to design my own (the old one was passed on to me by the always fabulous and wonderful cupcake Kristen Schiffmann), and I got it done a few weeks ago, but FORGOT to put it on the post! So...here it is:

Feel free to put it in your post or on your blog - the code to do so should be on my sidebar. And now, back to your regularly scheduled program. :D

The purpose of Monday Manna is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word.

On the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse--posted here at my blog on the Thursday before, to allow you to chew on it over the weekend. It doesn't have to be long -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional. Just post it on your blog on Mondayish (early OR late is fine, by the way!), then come back here and link up in the Linky Tools gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

During my daily Bible reading, I have been in the book of Psalms for the past several weeks. One verse in particular hit me the other day, so I thought it would be perfect for this weekend's pondering (and Monday's reading/writing!).
The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18 NKJV
Hope to see you Monday! Can't wait to get insights from each of you! 
   
Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

7/12/10

Stressed Out? C'mon Over

...to the Internet Cafe', where I'm serving up some coping strategies for parental stress at the Family Counter.

I dunno about you, but those lazy days of summer do SOMETHING to my stress levels, especially with having so much time to spend with my wonderful, loving, and SO HUMAN children.

See you there - and be sure to read today's devotional, as well as amazing barista articles on marriage and ministry.

Blessings to you!


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

7/8/10

What is Biggest? A Wordle Lesson

Several months ago, someone (don't ask me who, because I haven't a clue) introduced me to a neat website that can give you a visual representation of the words in a document, blog, or whatever. All you do is paste the words into a box, and Wordle will make a VERY cool "word cloud" of your writing. The larger the word in the picture, the more times that word is used in your document.

Here's a link to one example - a wordle of all the words on my blog. (I know there's a way to post a wordle on a blog, but I cannot figure it out) Get it?

ANYhow, somehow (possibly by my own unique idea, or more likely one I heard from one of my smart friends), I decided that this would be an extremely clever way to wheedle out repetition in my non-fiction WIP. It is highly recommended that you do not repeat the same words over and over and over and over in close proximity to each other. It can make your writing dull.

So I started wordling (LOL I say it's a word, so it is one!) each chapter of Ailing Body, Nourished Soul and going through and trying to reduce the instance of the really big words. Naturally, I started with my introduction.

So what did I discover? There were a few words I used a WHOLE lot in that particular section of my book. That is one of them. So were often and make. I went through and deleted and or changed several instances of each, and not only was that chapter's word variety expanded, but the text was "tightened."

There was one other word, however, that was even more prevalent than the ones I fixed. Yet, it was one I was wary of "fixing." The word?
God. Check it out here.
It got me thinking about why I am writing my book in the first place, and my whole purpose for being on earth. I am here to glorify God. I am here to be His hands and feet among the inhabitants of this planet. He should be at the center. His presence should be the largest, most noticeable, aspect of absolutely everything I do.

So, as you look at your life, is there any one thing larger than God? Is there anything that might even be approaching that same size? Do what I did. Change it.

Heavenly Father, thank You for reminding me, through a website, of where my priorities need to be. Help me to keep You at the central, and largest, aspect of my life. Nudge me when things of this world are getting too big, and lead me to change them so my focus can be exactly where You want it to be. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen

 
Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

7/5/10

Nehemiah's Example: Monday Manna

Real quick - I'm the featured member over at the FaithWriters Blog this morning. Check it out to find out a bit more about me. :D



Welcome to Monday Manna. The purpose of this meme is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word. On the first and third Monday of each month, anyone who wishes can post their thoughts on a verse I introduced at my blog the Thursday before. It doesn't have to be a long post -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional.

Anyone is welcome to participate. Just put a link to your Monday Manna blog entry in the Linky Tools gadget below, and check out others' thoughts.

This Monday's verses were selected with yesterday in mind. But of course, as Christians, we know there is more to freedom than what we celebrate on 4th of July in the US, and on assorted and sundry days in other countries.
I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame. Psalm 119:45-46
Looking forward to your thoughts. Mine are below.

**

Sharing my faith with others - and even just my convictions - has always been difficult for me. I am praying about and working hard to fix it, but I am WAY too dependent on other people's opinions. It's incredible what I will do to avoid getting on people's "bad side," or even getting them a bit irritated.

So, when I spied these verses, they got me thinking. Mostly, surprisingly, about Nehemiah. Remember him? He was the cupbearer to the king - and not just any king: Artaxerxes, king of Babylon. And if there was anything the Babylonians were known for, it was their many gods. They had a god for everything.

Now Nehemiah's job was an important one, and one given only to the most trustworthy of servants. So this  cupbearer was clearly respected by the king.

Now, one might think that Nehemiah would have to compromise--or at least hide--his beliefs to be on such good terms with a monarch who had conquered the Hebrews. But he didn't. When Nehemiah "spoke of [His] statues before kings," requesting assistance to rebuild the walls of Judah (Nehemiah 2:1-9), Artaxerxes was not surprised at the request. He knew Nehemiah's devotion, because his cupbearer had sought God's precepts.

Nehemiah had no care for his impression with the king - only with his devotion to his King.  Despite being in servitude to Artaxerxes, he walked in freedom--the freedom of God's love and adherence to His precepts--freedom from sin.

Shouldn't we all follow Nehemiah's example?

**

Thanks for reading. Be sure to link up below with your own thoughts on these verses, and read other folks' thoughts!




Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

7/1/10

Can it REALLY be July?

You do realize, of course, that we are at the midpoint of 2010. Today is the first day of the SEVENTH month. I am having a hard time accepting that. My calendar (unfortunately), however, does not generally lie.

SO, being as it is the first of the month, I'm here to share with you guys how my month went in relation to my writing goals.

As always, here are the goals I set on June 1, direct from my blog post of that day.
  1. Write 4,500 words in my current work in progress, Handmaiden To a Princess (just for the interested, that averages out to 150 words a day, every day)
  2. Post to my blog two to three times a week
  3. Enter the Faithwriters' Writing Challenge once this month
  4. Get back in the habit of reading others' blogs (I miss this, and know it is SO good for me - and encouraging for others!)
    I did well this month - the summer, so far, has been surprisingly kind to me and my time. I'll let my ticker speak for me regarding my word count:

    5147 / 4500 words. 114% done!
    I also did well regarding posting to my blog - I did at least two posts each week - a few times I did three, and I believe there was one week when I actually posted 4 times. :) In addition, I entered the challenge in July - I even placed 7th with the entry! And I have gotten back into reading and commenting on others' blogs. (I LOVE my google reader!) So, overall, I achieved every one of my goals! Thank you LORD!

    And now for July. I'm gonna be even more ambitious this month, partly because I think I should, and partly because I really need to. I actually have a deadline of sorts--I am wanting to pitch my non-fiction book, Ailing Body Nourished Soul to Hartline agent Terry Burns' assistant Linda Glaz at the Faithwriters' Conference on August 13-14. Also, before I even thought about this deadline, I committed myself to a word count goal on my Biblical fiction WIP through ACFW's Novel Track. And I'm not one to back out on commitments.
    So, here are my goals for July:
    1. Write 10,000 words in my current WIP, Handmaiden to a Princess. (again, FYI, that's just under 325 per day. Doable, right?)
    2. Tighten up/perfect/prepare my manuscript Ailing Body, Nourished Soul for pitching.(want it READY by the end of the month!)
    3. Begin putting together the paperwork I'll need (proposal? etc.) to pitch my book.
    4. Post to my blog twice a week
    5. Enter the Faithwriters' challenge in July (though this one will be the first "to go" if I can't handle all this stuff!
    So, there we go! It's a LOT, I know - but if God wants me to do it, I can :D And if He doesn't, well...I wasn't supposed to anyway. Right?:D

     
    Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

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