"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

5/30/12

Help - God is So Good (on Word-Filled Wednesday!)


Welcome to my Wednesday feature God is So Good. Here I will share stories - true and fiction, mine and others' - of the Lord's presence in the midst of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33b

For a few years, I often participated in Word-Filled Wednesday, which is currently hosted at the Internet Cafe, where I'm a devotional writer and editor. If you don't read the devotionals there, I recommend you start. WFW is a picture with scripture. For today, I'm sharing one of my old graphics that I think exemplifies the theme of my Wednesday posts of the past several months. I hope it is encouraging to you.


Photobucket



God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 NIV

Heavenly Father, no matter how grey, desolate, and hopeless our lives may feel, no matter how out of control things may seem, help us to remember that YOU are always there, helping us in our troubles. When we can't feel You, Lord, help us to trust anyway. Thank You for being our refuge and strength, Lord. In Jesus' name. Amen

In trouble, He is there. He is SO good! (and stop by the cafe for more Word-Filled Wednesday!)
Do you have a story you'd like to share about God's goodness in your struggles? Drop me an email and we can talk! 

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/29/12

Over the Years

May 29, 1994
Sometimes it feels like forever.

Other times, it's like we just met.

Of course, in eternal time, it's the snap of His fingers.

September 2003
But if you look at all we've been through together - half a dozen moves (not too many, actually, eh?), four brain surgeries, two births, four cats, raising two kids (yeah - still working on this one), disability, chemotherapy, radiation, finding Christ, loss of family members, jobs, and other things too numerous (and possibly unimportant) to mention - there's no doubt it's been an eventful, wild ride.

May 2008
May 2010
But every moment has been special. A gift from God. And He has always been there for us. And, thank the Lord, we have been there for each other.

Nineteen years ago today, he asked.

One year later - to the day, we did.

And I'd do it - ALL of it, over again.

Happy 18th Anniversary, Marc. I love you more than you can know.


Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/28/12

Remembering

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." George Santayana 

"A forgetful heart soon becomes a foolish heart." Rev. Karl Pike (the senior pastor at Good News Baptist Church

Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. Numbers 15:38-40 NIV 


You can find the word "remember" in God's Word more than 300 times. Usually, that kind of repetition means it's important. And I have to believe that is the case for this particular sentiment.

There's lots of different kinds of remembering mentioned in the Bible, but today I want to talk about just one. I'll save my thoughts on what God remembers - and doesn't remember - for another time. Today, I'm pondering His people's need to remember.

Today is Memorial Day here in the United States. It's a day to remember those who fought for our freedom. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice for the well-being of those not yet born - for our country.

I have friends who take this holiday extremely personally. They have lost someone near and dear to them in war. They do not need to be reminded to set time aside to honor the fallen. To them, I'd venture to say that every day is Memorial Day. But still, I am sure it warms their hearts to see others set the time aside to remember - even if it is only one day a year.

It seems that we, as humans, need reminders like these - physical "hints" can bring important things to mind that we might otherwise forget. The Israelites wore tassels on the corners of their garments to help them remember God's law. They celebrated Passover to remember their deliverance from Egypt. We have countless holidays to help us remember everything from administrative professionals to fathers to our first president.

But there is Someone even more deserving of our remembrance. And everything around us and in us can be a cue to recall the sacrifice He made. He created the heavens and the earth. He gave us everything we have. He hand-crafted us - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And, when He wanted us to come close, and our sin repelled Him, He gave all that blackness to His Son, who took it upon Himself, and died on the cross to set us free from it.

I don't need a holiday to remember He who made the ultimate sacrifice so I could be free in Christ. At least not all the time. (admit it - you act like He didn't sometimes, dontcha?) But I'm glad there are plenty of them anyhow.
**



What are some ways you help yourself remember what is important? What speaks most meaningfully to you about God's sacrifice? How do you help your children remember Christ's sacrifice on the cross? How do you stop them from repeating the mistakes of the past?



Comment below, and/ or stop by Living by Grace and we can chat a bit!



Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/25/12

Finds for Fridays: May 25

  Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following close to 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And here they are!

Dr. Quinn Time: What I'm Learning About Dedication by Mona Hodgson at Seekerville (about dedication to writing and finding time)

Johannes Gutenberg/Laughing at Us by Linda Glaz at her blog (about the changing face of publishing)

The Broken Places by Laura Lee Groves at Outnumbered Mom (about pride and letting our imperfections shine)

How Input Affects Output by Anita Agers-Brooks at WordServe Water Cooler (about re-energizing and/or avoiding afternoon fatigue)

Hope these posts bless you. I know they did me :) Have a great holiday weekend!
 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/23/12

His Heavy Hand of Opportunity - Guest Tracy Nunes - God Is So Good


Welcome to my Wednesday feature God is So Good. Here I will share stories - true and fiction, mine and others' - of the Lord's presence in the midst of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33b
I was looking through FaithWriters Free Reprints (a GREAT place to find Christian content, by the way), looking for a post for my "guest slot" in God is So Good, and this one grabbed my attention. We like to think that suffering is only bad - that it is something to be endured. But Tracy reminded me that there is no time like suffering to draw us closer to Him. I pray this post blesses you.
 
His Heavy Hand of Opportunity
By Tracy Nunes

Once in a Blue Moon, you feel the press of His Hands; the weight and power of them crumble your proud strength and your backside falls into a horizontal position. It is there that you find out what "Be still and know that I am God" really means (Psalm 46:10a).

Throughout our lives as Christians He'll often move pebbles - repeatedly -to get our attention. A little stone here and a little one there, until we gradually start to get a vision for the mountain He is building.
Photo credit

Or, He will speak in a gentle whisper just strong enough to float a feather. If we're paying attention we'll feel the slight brush of the plume as it glides over our cheek and follow it wherever it leads.

But, once in a Blue Moon, He will allow the full force of His presence to bear down on our circumstances and we can't help but be knocked off our feet. Choice is removed from the equation; He will have His way.

He will have His way and we can only choose how bad our struggle is going to get; the internal and eternal struggle, that is. He has ordained our state of affairs and there is no budging. Like a wild animal who has been caught for relocation to a safer place, but who perceives that it's been fixed in a trap engineered for its doom, we can beat against the cage and rage.

These last couple of years of my life have been a wild ride of highs and lows; higher highs than ever and lower lows by far. It culminated in the neurosurgery department at Kaiser Hospital where a disk in my neck was removed to make way for a Bioplastic doughnut and bone pulp with the hopes that it would eventually resolve long term pain.
Photo credit

They cut open my throat and moved aside everything that was in the way: esophagus, arteries, and ligaments in efforts to fix my ravaged spine. Surgery went well but weeks of post-op recovery forced me to sit still for prolonged periods of time. And, that was where I had a choice; to rage against it and feel sorry for myself (which I did do at times) or turn and embrace that Hand, heavy though it was.

And when I chose to grasp the Hand instead of slap it, I learned to be still and let Him do His handiwork. I learned that He can do things best when I stop trying to help Him. I found out that, as much as I thought I had learned in my walk with my Savior these 25 years, I'd yet come to complete surrender. It was a surrender that only could have happened when His heavy hand made me sit.

He made me sit and be completely unproductive, unhelpful, and unworthy so that I could find out that His love for me is not measured by how much I do for Him or for anyone else. It isn't measured by what treasures I gather to lay at His feet. It's measured by His willingness to step down out of heaven and into this world for my sake.

While He is present everyday and in all ways, He will occasionally give us a unique opportunity to see a glimpse of Heaven, a unique opportunity to hear His voice without distraction. Sometimes this gift will come wrapped up in pain and suffering and it will be tied with the bow of discouragement. But, it is a gift well worth opening.

Tracy lives in Hawaii with Richard, her husband of 25 years. She has 2 daughters and 2 grandsons. Writing ministry came after homeschooling her girls and a career in real estate management. Read her blog at: http://tracynunes.blogspot.com and find out why she is a self-described "Mess for Jesus."

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com-CHRISTIAN WRITER-MAKE A WEBSITE
 **

When there is nowhere else to lean, He is there. The clearest glimpses of Him often come in the midst of the worst of human circumstances. He is good!

Do you have a story you'd like to share about God's goodness in your struggles? Drop me an email and we can talk! 


Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/21/12

God's Public Relations Staff

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,
 and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 KJV)

There is a restaurant not far from my close friend's house where I will never again have a meal. I don't think it would matter if it was the last restaurant standing on earth. I'd just find somewhere else to eat.

Why? Well, the food was good and the prices were reasonable. The problem was our waiter.

photo credit
He basically ignored us. The last time (emphasis on "last") we were there, we waited a good twenty minutes for our menus. He probably didn't return to take our order for at least that long, and the wait for the food might have been double that. He never came by to see if we needed anything, and we even had to demand our check after a long delay. Also, not once did he sincerely apologize for the service. This one person made what could have been a lovely meal into a very poor one - an experience that has soured me to ever eating at that restaurant again.

 In the business world, the "front counter" person represents the company he works for to the customer. If the checker is rude, inattentive, or just plain wrong, the consumer will assume the company is that way as well. If the perceived offense is grievous enough, the customer may never shop there again, and may advise friends and acquaintances to avoid the business as well. If he is treated well, however, he can become a repeat customer, along with providing free advertising to his circle of friends.

While God is certainly not a company, or a CEO for that matter, it is probably not a huge stretch to say that His children - those who follow Him - are, in essence, in the business of Holy public relations for Him.

When unbelievers discover Who we belong to, they will take our actions and words as a sign of what we value and, ultimately, what our God is like. Even if our primary "job" in the Body of Christ isn't evangelism/recruitment, our actions have the potential to win (or lose) people for the Kingdom.

Remember the waiter? I am certain that recruiting new customers, or maintaining old ones, wasn't in his official job description. Yet, his behavior influenced our patronage of that restaurant more than any coupon, billboard, or commercial ever could.

Photo credit
What kind of "press" are you giving to your Father? Each time you lose control, ignore someone in need, or go back on your word, you give credence to those who say Christians are hypocrites. Each time you show jealousy, get even, or badmouth someone, you provide unbelievers with one more reason not to investigate Christ's claims. Is it any surprise that unbelievers want nothing to do with Christians who don't walk the talk?

Of course, this principle works the other way as well. If our waiter had been prompt, polite and friendly (or at least apologized when he wasn't), the restaurant likely would not have lost customers, and in fact may have gained some through word of mouth.

Similarly, exhibiting Christlike characteristics or apologizing when you don't can certainly draw unbelievers to us and, ultimately, to our God. Many people's salvation testimonies start with scenarios such as this one.

No one expects perfection, but behavior in front of others, especially unbelievers, can make a huge difference in your witness and testimony to God's work in your life. With God's help, we can all bring a true vision of our Lord to an unsaved world without causing too much "bad press."
**

What kind of "press" are you giving the Lord? Do you make an effort to provide positive public relations for your Savior? How have you made it harder for someone to follow Christ? Easier?

Comment below, and/ or stop by Living by Grace and we can chat a bit!

 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/19/12

All The Yet We Need

I'm over at Jewels of Encouragement today, talking about God's faithfulness in struggles. Hope you'll stop by and learn how He is All The Yet We Need.

And have a great weekend. Mine's pretty busy. Headless chicken busy.

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/18/12

Finds for Fridays - May 18

  Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following close to 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And here they are!

Know What You're Entitled to as a Writer by Cynthia Ruchti at the ACFW blog (about privileges vs rights in our writing journey)

The Dangers of Being an Out-Of-Work Blogger by Lisa Mikitarian at Connecting Now (just read it. TOO hilarious)

Quality vs Quantity of Life by Dee Yoder at Jewels of Encouragement (about life as a gift and
 acceptance as worship)

S is for Simplify by Nikki Turner at In Truer Ink (about lots and lots of stuff)

Hope these posts bless you. I know they did me :)


Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/16/12

In Old Testament Black and White - God Is So Good


Welcome to my Wednesday feature God is So Good. Here I will share stories - true and fiction, mine and others' - of the Lord's presence in the midst of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33b
I believe many of you are familiar with my salvation testimony - at least a basic understanding. But I realized just the other day that I had never actually posted it here on my blog (though I referenced it here a few years ago.). And what better time, or place, to put it here than for God is so Good. So here it is :)


I didn’t know much about Christianity as a kid.

Photo credit
Why should I? I was Jewish, Bat Mitzvahed at 13, born and raised in the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles. Though my high school wasn’t closed for Jewish holidays, a quarter of the students were absent for the High Holy Days. My father was raised as an orthodox Jew; my maternal grandfather was a former cantor; my great aunt still kept kosher.

My Jewish roots ran deep.

I do remember my first church service, however. I was nine or so, and we were visiting my aunt and her family. I recall the pastor saying something disparaging about Jews during his sermon. I ran out. I still don’t remember what he said, but I did not enter a church again for ten years.

photo credit
The next one was Catholic. I was in college, dating a Catholic who brought me to Mass. I remember looking up at the front of the church, seeing the crucifix, and feeling more uncomfortable than I ever had before. I kept my eyes down for the rest of the service. That cross haunted me for quite a while.

I had other minor "encounters" with Christianity, but it wasn’t until I was married and living in the Midwest twelve years later that that cross grabbed my attention again.

My husband was nominally Jewish and we both followed our faith for a while. We soon stopped attending synagogue, however, neither of the local ones being to our liking. We still celebrated the major holidays, but nothing more.

I was working as a freelance writer for the local daily paper, and the religion editor had taken a liking to me, so I was writing for him. One day, he called and asked if I would cover a Christian women’s conference the following Saturday. I agreed skeptically, assuming it would be a bunch of fake, mushy women screaming "Hallelujah" and praising God for their wonderful lives.

Was I ever wrong.

The moment I walked into the arena, I felt a camaraderie among the women there, and a peace I simply couldn’t explain. The speakers, who I normally would have dismissed as hokey, resonated with me, and I felt myself filled with the same camaraderie and peace as those around me. I didn’t want to leave.
picture credit

Unfortunately, I had no choice - I had a deadline to meet! And, as I left the building to walk the three blocks to the newspaper office, I felt that peace leave me just as suddenly as it arrived.

A myriad of questions ran through my mind.

  • What did those women have that I didn’t?
  • Could I find that kind of peace in Judaism if I was more devout, or was this a Christian phenomenon?

I decided I needed to start this quest of mine with my own faith. I found my English copy of the Hebrew Bible and read the entire Old Testament from beginning to end in two weeks. I also typed out about 20 pages of notes.

That fortnight brought several things to light, including my lack of obedience to God’s laws, and the emphasis throughout the Old Testament on vengeance and justice.

I knew what I had to do next. I began reading the New Testament. And there, it seemed, were answers to all my questions, comfort from all my fears. I finished the NT in another week, and added another dozen pages of notes to my collection.

Yet, I had some serious misgivings. I saw Jesus as a wonderful man, someone to emulate, but as God? As Messiah? My Jewish background and teachings were digging at me - "God is One," "Christ was a Jew-hater," and other mantras reverberated in my mind. I MIGHT be able to accept Jesus as Lord, but Savior?

Still, I started attending a bible-believing church, and began reading the bible through again. I got many new revelations on the Old Testament the second time through, but none as monumental as the one I received about 5 months after the women’s conference, from Isaiah.


But he was wounded because of our sins,
Crushed because of our iniquities.
He bore the chastisement that made us whole,
And by his bruises we were healed.
Isaiah 53:5 JPS


There it was, in black and while - in the Hebrew Scriptures: Christ’s death on the cross as payment for my sins. At this point, I had no choice. I embraced the cross, and have never turned back.

*
I didn't know I was in difficulties - but I was. I was destined for hell. And then God found me, and saved me. He is SO good!

Do you have a story you'd like to share about God's goodness in your struggles? Drop me an email and we can talk! 



Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/14/12

Legacy

I'm over at the Internet Cafe today, talking about something ELSE I learned at the Frederick Meijer Gardens last month. Especially in this time of busyness as the school year ends, learn what I learned about ceasing striving - and Being a Human Being.


 I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and 
in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 1 Timothy 1:5 NIV

Yesterday, our pastor's sermon title was "Godly Mothers." I'm guessing his wasn't the only one with that, or a similar title, on Mother's Day. ;). He preached from 2 Timothy 5, which talks about the influence Timothy's mother and grandmother had on his faith.
And, it got me to thinking. About legacy. Christian legacy in particular.
Since I became a Christian thirteen years ago, I've felt like I was missing something that a LOT of my Christian friends had. You see, many folks I know were raised in Christian homes. Their parents were believers, and their grandparents, and great-grandparents, and so on. They had traditions and examples of how believers act - from BIRTH. To me, it was all new. And a little bit scary.

Sure, I had my own legacy of Judaism. It was pretty cool - and I loved having such an in-depth knowledge of the Old Testament that many of my "gentile" friends did not have.

But still, I wished, for a long time, that I had grown up in a Christian home, and hadn't had to wait until I was in my 30's to find Christ. I didn't have a Eunice, or a Lois, growing up. I wasn't raised on Christian principles.

And I was feeling that again during church, as Pastor Pike talked about folks with that kind of legacy, who often didn't realize how blessed they were. My my head nearly detached from my neck, I was nodding so vigorously.

But then a thought entered my head that changed my perspective.
You may not have a Christian legacy, but you can be part of one.
No, I may not have a Eunice or Lois in my background, but I can BE one - to my children, and my children's children (eventually). My sincere faith can be witnessed, and exhibited, through me, which just might live in my own offspring, and then in theirs.

And that's some serious motivation to live for Him, isn't it?

And, because the ENTIRE time I wrote this post, I had a certain song going through my head, I HAD to share it. :)

**

Do you have a legacy of Christianity in your family? In what ways have you benefited from it? Have you thought about the blessings of it? If you don't, have you envied people who did? What can YOU do to become a Lois or Eunice to your family - or the younger generation in general?

Comment below, and/ or stop by Living by Grace and we can chat a bit!
 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/11/12

Finds for Fridays: May 11

  Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following close to 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And here they are!

How To Be Friends With An Introvert by Kristen Schiffmann at Biblical Friendship (an INCREDIBLY enlightening post for this extrovert!)
 
One Hit Wonders, Revisited by Kenn Allan at his blog (about garage bands, one-book authors, and quality)

Time Management - God Style by Lynda Schultz at Grains of Sand (about what we can get done)

Creating the Lie by Sherrinda Ketchersid at The Writers Alley (about the basis for a character's journey)

The Invisible Mother by Joy Bach at Life Moments (about mothers and accolades and pleasing) 

Hope you'll stop by - and enjoy - these posts. I know I did :) 

 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/9/12

In Love...and Desperation - God is So Good

I'm at the Midwest blog The Barn Door today, talking about a lovely visit I had to one of the many attractions here in the Grand Rapids. Come join me for my retreat to the Frederick Meijer Gardens - a garden retreat.

Welcome to my Wednesday feature God is So Good. Here I will share stories - true and fiction, mine and others' - of the Lord's presence in the midst of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33bW
 Well, it's almost Mother's Day. And partly for that reason, I thought I'd share this piece which I originally wrote for the FaithWriters writing challenge (with names changed for anonymity - though I have NO idea if it worked LOL). I've "fixed" the names - and a few other details. It's 100% true. And still, I am 100% grateful.

"I'm so glad you're here." Those were the only words I could force from my mouth as I held her tight.

"Me too. It's going to be all right, dear." Neither of our voices was above a whisper.

We both needed the embrace, the encouragement to hang on, the hope for the future. We were desperate for the strength to work through--to think through--the events of the past few days. I certainly can't speak for Sharon, but I know I was glad to see her walk through the hospital room door at that moment. Her hug was precious, as were her words.

It made no difference to me that we were not blood relatives, or that she wasn't even related to my husband by blood. It didn't matter that she was "just" his step-mother. Sharon loved him with a maternal love, and she treated me like the daughter she'd never had.

My own mother, the one I'd turned to for every scary, frightening situation in my first half-dozen years, was no longer living. My step-mother, who had taken her place (to an extent, anyway) in those matters for the next dozen or two years, was three thousand miles away.

For the past decade or so, I'd had someone else to turn to with my fears--someone new with which to share them. My husband, Marc, became my protector: the one who scared away the boogie man and comforted me in my troubles. But today, when I needed someone to do just that, not only was he unavailable, but he was what was scaring me.

Then, of course, there was God. Was he there? Undoubtedly. And, yes, he comforted me. But sometimes having a physical person you can actually touch and talk to can make a difficult situation a bit easier to handle.

It was my husband in that hospital bed, and we really had no answers. When hospital personnel were mentioning "mass" and "brain" in the same sentence, however, best-case scenarios were not the first things to come to mind. Sure, God was in control, but how would this affect me, my family, my husband, my LIFE?

It was comforting, somehow, to have another woman there with me. Females really do seem to react to situations like this differently than men do. I needed someone who could share in my concern and fear: someone who would understand. We could certainly empathize with each other. She and I were both afraid of losing someone we loved dearly: she, her step-son of nineteen years, and me, my husband of nine.

Sharon and I, unlike the mother-in-law stereotype, had gotten along since we'd met. Yet, something about that desperate situation, and the love we both had for Marc, created a special bond--a bond of desperation and love, if you will--between us. We were truly drawn together by this trial. This is a bond we still have, 9 years later. The trial is not gone either, though it is different: less immediate, more controlled, if you will. And through it all, Sharon was, and is, there.

I had other ladies in my life during this time, and they were certainly a blessing. Yet, God knew what I needed at that moment in the hospital room (and several others over the next few years): a woman who loved me, and Marc, in a way only a maternal figure could--and could do it in person. God gave us that woman in Sharon.

**

There are a small handful of people who I KNOW were huge in getting us through this trial. My mother-in-law was one of them. And God provided each one. He is SO good!
Do you have a story you'd like to share about God's goodness in your struggles? Drop me an email and we can talk! 
 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/7/12

Who To Root For

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all 
your soul and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV

On Saturday afternoon, our family had a bit of a dilemma - a conundrum, if you will.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that my son is playing soccer this spring - his first time (at age 11, kinda unusual to be just starting, but he's enjoying himself, and he's played plenty at recess). We're halfway through the season, and the Neon Thunder (formerly the Neon Chipmunks - but that's another story) haven't lost a game yet.

Our last game was an away game, and the home team, it seemed, was short a player. There needs to be nine on the field for U12 soccer, and only eight of their players showed up. It could have been a forfeit (which, of course, is no fun for either side). Fortunately, there was another solution.

Our team, you see, had 13 members present. So, we lent them a player. And hence my dilemma.
You see, for the first quarter of the game, my son was on the opposing team.
So, the natural question for Hubby, Daughter and me was - who do we root for? If we cheered for the Neon Thunder, wouldn't it be rooting AGAINST our son? Yet, rooting for the orange team (never found out their team name) would be rooting against his team, and, ultimately, him as well.

I actually texted a couple of my friends to ask - and they both gave me the answer I should have come up with on my own: ROOT FOR YOUR SON.

Sometimes life can be like this too. Even Christianity. There might be factions, disagreements, among your friends, church family, biological family. Your cause (AWANA, perhaps) might be getting less appreciation/funding/attention than your friend's junior high ministry. Or God's favor may seem to be falling on someone else's ministry, while yours is floundering.

Who should you root for?

The answer, it seems, is almost identical. Only one word different: Root for The Son.

It is Christ - not programs, ministries, or individual efforts - we should be supporting. Wherever Jesus is, support it - even if he seems to be on "the opposing team."

**

How attached do you get to your "pet projects?" Do you find yourself devoted to a ministry, rather than the Lord? How can we be sure we aren't so caught up in what we're doing for the Lord that we're leaving Him behind - or, worse, on the opposing team?


Comment below, and/ or stop by Living by Grace and we can chat a bit!




Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/4/12

Finds for Fridays: May 4

  Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following close to 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And here they are!

This Post Is For The Ones You Love by Rachelle Gardner at her blog (about helping unsupportive spouses to writers understand)

Does The Critique Have Merit? II  by Linda Yezak at 777 Peppermint Place (about critiques, and listening to them (or not))

When God Says Wait by Jennifer Slattery at Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud (about waiting on Him)

Much to learn and ponder here. Hope you'll take the time to read these - and comment if the situation warrants.

 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/3/12

Writing Craft Recap for April

2012 is my "learning the writing craft" year. And once a month, generally on the first Thursday of the month, I will share some highlights of what I learned. And here I go.

This was my month, mostly, to apply what I learned the first three months - but I did pick up some knowledge along the way. I'm sharing it below.


From editing the first three chapters of Handmaiden to a Princess:
  • Description is generally more effective when it's short and to the point.
  • Finding JUST the right word is incredibly difficult.
  • My default writing is overly descriptive - but I know how to fix it!
  • Varying sentence structure and length can make a HUGE difference in how well your writing flows.
From the last two-thirds of Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress (check last month's post for what I learned from the first third!):
  • The basic techniques for creating humorous characters are exaggeration, ridicule, and reversal of expectations.
  • Keep ethnicity, family background, region, gender, education, and circumstances in mind as you develop your character's dialogue/dialect.
  • Real dialogue and fictional dialogue are NOT the same.
  • The most important thing to remember about love, sex, fight, and death scenes is that the characters should perform them in keeping with the personality you have given them so far.
  • The most important emotion in fiction is frustration, because without it, there is no plot.
  • The main expression of your character's frustration should be action that moves the story forward.
  • Though dialogue may lie, the body doesn't.
  • If you use more than one POV character, it's important that the reader knows this fairly early in the story.
  • When writing in third person, use the fewest points of view you can get away with and still tell the story you want to tell.
  • Omniscient point of view isn't just head-hopping. It must include authorial presence.
  • The single largest aid you can give yourself as a writer is to regard your fiction as your characters' story - not your own.
From the May issue of The Writer and the May/June issue of Writer's Digest:
  • Your theme should be intrinsic to the story.
  • Your fiction should contain an abundance of places where your description of the setting calls the reader's attention to whatever theme you are striving to convey.
  • One of the richest veins to mine for story subject is where two contradictory statements are equally true.
  • A quote by Tawni O'Dell: "You don't decide to become a writer and then start writing. You write and write and then accept one day -  with a mix of immense pride and mild horror - that you are a writer."
Hope you learned something as well. Watch this spot next month, where I'll share what I learn in May - including from Devon Ellington's class Setting as Character (which is ALREADY amazingly helpful!), and possibly Janice Thompson's Humor in Writing class on the ACFW course loop.

Questions? Comments? Observations? What was most interesting or helpful to you?

 
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/2/12

Just The Other Day - God Is So Good



Welcome to my Wednesday feature God is So Good. Here I will share stories - true and fiction, mine and others' - of the Lord's presence in the midst of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33b
Generally, I don't write poetry, but when I do, folks often say I do a pretty good job of it. I wrote this poem more than five years ago for the FaithWriters Writing Challenge , and it touches me each time I read it. It is NOT based on a true story, but it certainly could have been. I hope you can see the hope in this piece - and God's provision.

Just The Other Day
by Joanne Sher

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.


**


God may have "taken" his father, but this child, and his mother, still have hope. Could it be that that little boy in 3T overalls IS her provision? God is SO good!
Do you have a story you'd like to share about God's goodness in your struggles? Drop me an email and we can talk!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

5/1/12

Where'd That Month Go?? A Goals/Progress update

Since this is the first Tuesday of the month, I'm on my monthly "tech fast" - no computer, no texting (and my cell phone is NOT smart, just fyi). Looking forward to it (yeah, I wrote this post early). My son has a morning dentist appointment, and my daughter's guinea pig gets to go to the vet around lunch. Otherwise, hoping for some longhand writing, reading, cleaning, and basic chilling. 

Of course, that's NOT stopping me from sharing how last month went, and what my plans are for May - which arrived ENTIRELY too fast for me. Sheeeesh.

ANYhow - my goals for April, straight from last month's post, were:
  • Review the classes I've taken since the beginning of 2012 (Mistakes that Scream Novice, Six Stages of Change - The Character Arc, Empowering Characters' Emotions, and Deep Editing) and work on applying what I've learned to Handmaiden to a Princess, starting with page one and working through til the month,or what I've written so far, is done - whichever comes first.
  • Finish reading and learning from Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress (I'm about 1/3 of the way through currently. Learning tons here too!).
  • Write another short story, likely for the FaithWriters Writing Challenge, applying what I've learned thusfar.
Well, I didn't exactly review the lessons per se, but I did review what I learned in my head, and began applying it to my MS. And BOY did I have a lot to apply! I'm slowly working my way through the 90 or so pages (30k words approximately) that I have written so far - have made it through 24 pages (aka the first three chapters) so far.

I did finish Characters, Emotion, and Viewpoint (great book!) - watch my blog on Thursday for what I learned from it, and a few other writing-related publications I made it through this past month. I didn't write another short story, but that's okay. Was busy with "life" stuff.

So, I did all right. How about May, you ask? Well, here I go.
  • Keep up and learn from the month-long online Setting as Description class I'm signed up for in May (actually started yesterday) at Savvy Authors. This one sounds GOOD, especially for a biblical fiction writer like me. And I'll bet it's not too late to sign up, since it's only been going for 24 hours. Join me? (though I SHOULD mention there's already an assignment due at the end of today - which I've finished so I can ENJOY my tech-free day!)
  • Work on what I've learned in my classes this year to Handmaiden to A Princess, "fixing" another 30 pages of the manuscript.
  • Learn from Janice Thompson's FREE class on the ACFW course loop - Adding Humor to Your Writing (this one sounds FUN!). (this is a "want to" - will let this one slide if I get too overwhelmed - can always go back and look at it later)
So, there you go! Thanks for reading, and cheering me on. Onward I go!


Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

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