"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

12/31/14

2014 in Review

I say this every year (really!) but can you believe this year is over?? Crazy. For me, 2014 was quite a year writing-wise (and otherwise - but I'm not dwelling on that). As is my custom, I thought I would give a bit of a review of the year ending today.

For the first time, I chose one word to focus on for the year. My word was "Content" (stress on the first syllable), and it absolutely challenged, and grew, me in many ways. I may not be more content in my circumstances (like Philippians tells me to be), but I AM more aware of my discontent. That's progress, right? ;)

Seriously, having this word as a theme helped me focus on not striving too much, and accepting where I was and what I could do - with God's power, of course.

I also made a few goals (not resolutions - just FYI) for 2014, pointing toward my new direction and focus as a children's picture book writer. I am listing them below, along with how I did on each.

* Write 12 picture book drafts in 2014 (with help from 12x12 )

I accomplished this goal - finishing my twelfth picture book draft of the year on Sunday, December 29. Most of them are pretty pitiful, and MAYBE one of them is near ready for submission, but you can't fix a blank page. I am QUITE happy with my progress.

* Learn as much about picture book writing as I can

You know how they say your goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive)? Well, I just (as in a couple of days ago) realized this particular goal is exactly NONE of these.

Despite the faultiness of my target, I'd say I actually did pretty well on this one.
  1. I worked my way through a few craft books specifically for picture book and/or children's book writers (including Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul, The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb, and the Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman
  2. I participated in several picture book writing challenges (including Start the Year off Write, ReviMo, RhyPiBoMo, Kidlit Summer School, 12 x 12 and PiBoIdMo
  3. I took a couple of online classes. 
  4. I also joined an online critique group to help me hone my skills
  5. I am a participant in the Debut Picture Book Author Study group (though I did NOT participate every opportunity I could have)
  6. Since April, I have read and taken notes on a relatively current picture book almost every day. 
  7. I also follow several blogs by picture book authors that I am learning much from.
  Maybe not "as much as I can," but I'd say quite a bit!

* Work on writing or revision of a picture book manuscript five days a week minimum

Though I cannot say I did this every single week of 2014, I would estimate (cuz I'm not in the mood to count LOL) that I can count on two hands (maybe even one!) the number of weeks I did NOT meet this goal. Sometimes all I did was cross out one word, or write three, but I was quite good about doing SOMETHING most days.

So, there it is - my 2014 in review. Watch for a post tomorrow (or the next day - will see) with my word and direction for 2015.

How was YOUR 2014?


My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

12/9/14

A Wild Aussie Christmas - A Holiday Contest Entry

I've spent the past week or so writing this story for Susanna Hill's 4th Annual Holiday Contest (by the way, I "met" Susanna a year ago with the 3rd Annual Contest, which I also entered). The requirements: 350 words or less, written for children (age 12 or under), and where wild weather impacts the holiday.

I will probably (at some point) rework this a bit to make it more of a picture book-type manuscript - so I would love any feedback along those lines. Hope you enjoy the story (and that I didn't make too much of a fool of myself!).

A Wild Aussie Christmas
By Joanne Sher

December in Australia is very different than America. Instead of snowmen, they build sand castles. Rather than sitting by the fire, they get a tan.

December is summer Down Under, and it's often sweltering on Christmas day. But one Aussie Christmastime was very unusual indeed.

The Durvan family was preparing for their annual Christmas eve barbecue on the beach – making dessert and salad and preparing chicken to grill – when little Debbie Durvan darted into the kitchen.

“Mum! Dad! It's snowing outside. It looks like a snowstorm!”

“Snowing? In December? It can't be!”

“Come look.”

And they did.

“Snow for Christmas. Imagine that,” Mum said.

Dad couldn't believe it. “What now? We certainly can't have our family Christmas barbie, or pile the presents under a palm tree in weather like this.”

Mum sighed. “We'll have to try something different.”

“But we've always had a beach Christmas.” Debbie crossed her arms. “It'll be weird to do anything else.”

“Maybe,” Dad said,” but it might be lots of fun. And perhaps we'll find a new tradition.”

“I know!” Debbie piped in. “Instead of making sandcastles, we can build snowmen. And we can sled instead of surf.”

Mum nodded. “And we'll have a fire in the fireplace instead of on the barbie.”

“Of course. I'm guessing he won't be in his swimmers this year, though,” Dad said. “And he might need a snowboard to get here.”

“But how about all the presents?” Debbie asked.

“Oh – maybe a sleigh.” Mom piped in.

Pop's eyes twinkled. “Maybe.”

“It sure will be cold for caroling by candlelight,” Debbie added.

Pop pat Debbie on the back. “We can just wear our winter gear.”

“But what about poor baby Jesus? Won't he be freezing out in the manger this year?” Debbie's eyes dropped.

Mum smiled. “He will have His love to keep Him warm. And besides, He grew up a VERY long time ago. You know that – right?”

Debbie nodded. “And He loves us whatever the weather.”

Even during an Aussie Christmas blizzard.

 **

Make sure you stop by Susanna's blog and read some of the other entries.




My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

12/5/14

Perfect Picture Book Friday:Brother Sun, Sister Moon

I'm joining with the delightful Susanna Leonard Hill today, sharing a fun picture book I encountered last week for Perfect Picture Book Friday. Thanks, Susanna, for giving us a place to share our favorite picture books! (Check out her ever-expanding list of perfect picture books here - and check out what she, and several others, are adding to the list here at her blog)

I had intended to post this last week, the day after Thanksgiving, because of the gratefulness theme. But last week completely got away from me, so here we go.

Title: Brother Sun, Sister Moon: St. Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Creatures

Author: "reimagined by" Katherine Paterson

Illustrator: Pamela Dalton

Publisher: Handprint Books, 2011

Age Range: 4-6 years

Theme/Topics: Gratitude, Prayer, Nature

First Page/Spread: "We come to sing a song of praise to you, O God, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, who by your power and out of your love have created all things and called them good."

Synopsis: In Brother Sun, Sister Moon, award-winning author Katherine Paterson re-imagines a hymn of praise originally written by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1224. Illuminated with the exquisite illustrations of cut-paper artist Pamela Dalton, this picture book offers a stunningly beautiful tribute to nature.

Resources: The original prayer/canticle is included in the back of the book to look at. There are some activities related to St. Francis of Assisi at this site. Most nature-related activities would also work, including looking through the gorgeous paper-cut illustrations for specific plants or animals.

Why I LOVE it: The language is absolutely gorgeous, as are the pictures. The prayer itself is just lovely and peaceful.And the whole idea of praising the Lord for nature warmed me - especially at this time of year. It is a lovely story to share about thankfulness (yes - last Friday would have been better - right?)

Hope you'll give this book a look - and check out the OTHER perfect picture books for today at Susanna's blog - and Susanna's ever-growing list of wonderful picture books.


My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

11/25/14

Some FREE Christmas Treasures - Including My Own!!

I know - not quite Thanksgiving yet - but have I got a Christmas present for you :)

I know I've mentioned it here earlier this month, but I have three stories in a wonderful Christmas anthology that is available on Amazon right now called Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories. There's a little something for everyone - romance, humor, tears, you name it - all about this wonderful time of year.

The anthology features 14 different authors, including some of my dearest friends (and maybe some of yours too!): Patty Wysong, Linda S. Glaz, Christina Rich, Karen Wingate, Karen Campbell Prough, Karla Atkins, Donna Hubbard Scofield, Elaine Stock, Karlene Jacobsen, Kathy Rouser, April Strauch, Anne Garbozci Evans, Susan F. Craft, and yours truly :D
Get it here!

And the best part? Today through Saturday, the book is FREE for the Kindle! Hope you'll stop by and pick it up - and tell your friends! (It's also available in the print version for only $5 - also a great deal, don't you think??)


 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

What's your favorite Christmas memory?  

11/21/14

Perfect Picture Book Friday: A Crazy Day at the Critter Cafe

I've been pretty busy with writing and editing and such, and haven't had a chance to participate in Susanna Hill's Perfect Picture Book Friday in a while. SO VERY glad I'm making time to do it today - as this book has been sitting on my desk for at least a week or two, waiting for the chance to be featured. And the time has FINALLY come!

Title: A Crazy Day at the Critter Cafe
Author: Barbara Odanaka
Illustrator: Lee White
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry/Simon & Schuster
Age Range: 4-8
Theme/Topics:Animals, mayhem, restaurants, humor, rhyme
First Page:"It was a quiet morning at the Critter Cafe. The cook was dozing in his cheese souffle. The waiter was whistling sleepy tunes when through the door walked three raccoons."
Synopsis: Swish, zoom, swish. Clickety-clack! When a bus full of critters breaks down, a sleepy roadside café suddenly wakes up! Raccoons, elephants, zebras, and rams are only a few of the many animals demanding grub, and it is all that a cook and a waiter can do to keep up. But when Skateboard Cow swerves her way through the crowd, more than a few feathers are guaranteed to be ruffled! Rhythmic text and energetic illustrations combine for a romp of pure fun and entertainment.

Resources: I found a couple free printables for this book here. Here is another cute idea for making word burgers. Having the kids play restaurant would also work.

Why I LOVE it: The voice is fabulous, the pace is fast and TOTALLY fun, and the story absolutely delightful and silly and relateable (to kids - yeah, that's it). And the end surprised me delightfully. The art AND words are a super combination. Just plain fun !

Hope you'll give this book a look - and check out the OTHER perfect picture books for today at Susanna's blog - and Susanna's ever-growing list of wonderful picture books.
 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

11/12/14

A Fantastic, Fun Project (with Friends!)

This post is party of Patty Wysong's
A to Z meme. This week's letter is "F"

A to Z blog hop at Patterings.
I don't know about you, but I LOVE Christmas. As a Jew who came to Christ in her early 30s, there is such rich meaning to this time of year for me that I never realized as a child (or even a young adult).

So, when my extremely dear friend (who shares my brain) Patty Wysong mentioned a Christmas short story anthology she wanted to put together, I  was on top of it. (Sort of) I found a few of my Christmas flash fiction articles I'd written and sent them off to her right away (actually, I got distracted and didn't send them until a couple days AFTER the deadline - but that's because SHE had the brain :P). And despite my tardiness, my three little stories will be in this wonderful anthology which will be available VERY soon!

We are still working on a cover and release date, but we have a TITLE - which is super exciting to me!

So, if you to sit down with some Christmas stories that will make you laugh, cry, cheer, and worship (and who knows what else!) be sure to keep your eyes open for:

Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories

We have more than a dozen different authors in this book (many of which are VERY dear friends), and the stories are in a variety of genres, so there is sure to be something for everyone.So, you want to know who ELSE will be in this anthology? Well, feast your eyes on THIS list (and click the links to see their blogs/webpages)!

Donna Scofield
Joanne Sher (yeah - that's me :D)
April Strauch

I promise to let you all know when we have a cover, a release date, AND when it can be purchased! I'm pretty stoked :)
 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1
 

10/29/14

Discipline, Drive, and Determination: a Halloweensie Contest Entry

This post is party of Patty Wysong's
A to Z meme. This week's letter is "D"
A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

This tiny story/entry has been a lot of work in coming. You see, I have known about this contest for months (at least I remembered folks mentioning it quite a while ago.) I have know the specifics for over three weeks. But I was truly wondering if it was actually going to come together.

Over that time, I started probably half a dozen different stories that fit the parameters (about Halloween, for children, 100 words or less, using the words pumpkin, broomstick, and creak) - and they all either petered out or seemed ENTIRELY too difficult to pare down to that miniscule amount required for the contest.

But, finally, with much discipline, drive, and determination (and with the help of my lovely daughter with the editing/trimming down to size), I present to you (my fellow A to Zers, blog readers, AND other contest entrants), my humble entry in Susanna Leonard Hill's 4th Annual Halloweensie Writing Contest!

Dumb Jack-'O-Lanterns
By Joanne Sher

“Jack-o'-lanterns are dumb,” Sarah said, elbow-deep in pumpkin guts. “And gross.”

“Nah. They're cool!” Her brother B.J. bounced, making the chair creak. “Can this one be a witch?”

Sarah shrugged.

“Don't you LIKE Halloween?”

“Not really.”

“You don't like candy? Decorations? Trick-or-treating?”

“Trick-or-treating's for little kids.” Sarah frowned.

“Some older kids go.”
Photo source

“My friends aren't.”

“Go with me.”

“With you? Seriously?”

B.J. beamed. “Say Mom made you.”

“Maybe.”

“C'mon.”

“Okay!” Sarah rose, pumpkin guts flying.

B.J. gasped, then giggled. “I'll be a pumpkin this year. Got my costume.”

Sarah grabbed a broomstick. “And I'll be a witch.”

** 
Not the best thing I've ever written - but not bad, I'd say. Check out a bunch of other short Halloween stories (which I'm sure are MUCH more clever than mine!) at Susanna's blog - and enter your own if you want - the deadline isn't until just before midnight on Halloween!

OOOR - if the letter "D" is more up your alley, join the blog hop below! :)
 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1
 

10/24/14

Perfect Picture Book Friday: 1 plus 1 equals 5 and Other Unlikely Additions

(Seriously, is there a SINGLE ONE of you who could see this title and NOT pick it up??)

I'm joining with the delightful Susanna Leonard Hill today, sharing a fun picture book I encountered for Perfect Picture Book Friday. Thanks, Susanna, for giving us a place to share our favorite picture books! (Check out her ever-expanding list of perfect picture books here - and check out what she, and several others, are adding to the list here at her blog)

Title: 1+1=5 and Other Unlikely Additions
Author: David LaRochelle
Illustrator: Brenda Sexton
Publisher: Sterling, 2010
Age Range: 5 and up
Theme/Topics: Numbers, Counting, Humor

Beginning: "(first page) 1+1=3?" "(page turn) 1 unicorn + 1 goat = 3 horns!"

Synopsis: How much is 1+1? Think the answer is 2? Not always, as this playful approach to addition proves! David LaRochelle takes children on a joyful mathematical journey that will engage their minds and teach them to think about numbers in a creative, outside-the-box way. Brenda Sexton's wild and wacky illustrations add layers of witty fun to LaRochelle's clever game.

Resources: Check out the teaching guide at David LaRochelle's website (in both black and white AND color), and a few other activities he recommends. Most counting activities (especially those with sets of things) would also be great.

Why I LOVE it: It's extremely clever, for one. The illustrations are super-colorful, and make each page turn a mystery/investigation for kids (even my 10-year-old daughter enjoyed trying to figure out how the equation could work out - I did too, but I don't count, right? LOL). And it's funny, makes kids think, and encourages imagination. How can you beat that?

Hope you'll give this book a look - and check out the OTHER perfect picture books for today at Susanna's blog.


My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

10/17/14

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Open This Little Book

I'm joining with the delightful Susanna Leonard Hill today, sharing a fun picture book I encountered this week for Perfect Picture Book Friday. Thanks, Susanna, for giving us a place to share our favorite picture books! (Check out her ever-expanding list of perfect picture books here - and check out what she, and several others, are adding to the list here at her blog)

Title: Open This Little Book
Author: Jesse Klausmeier
Illustrator: Suzy Lee
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2013 fiction
Age Range: 3-8
Theme/Topics: Colors, Book Making, Friendship

Beginning: "Open this Little Red Book, and read abut a Ladybug, who opens a..."

Synopsis: What will you find when you open this little book? A fun story? Sweet characters? Enticing pictures? Yes! But much more. Open this book and you will find...another book...and another...and another. Debut author Jesse Klausmeier and master book creator Suzy Lee have combined their creative visions to craft a seemingly simple book about colors for the very youngest readers, an imaginative exploration of the art of book making for more sophisticated aficionados, and a charming story of friendship and the power of books for all.

Resources: Check out the teacher's guide for this book from Chronicle's website. Other ideas could include having the kids create their own book (out of construction paper) - and of course, talking about the different colors. Lots of room for imagination here.

Why I LOVE it: The design blew me away - ESPECIALLY when I learned it was written by a debut author (who I THOUGHT they didn't like to take risks on :D). I think kids will find that aspect fascinating as well (there are seven "books," each a bit smaller than the other, inside the main book proper.). Plus the story is super sweet with a touch of humor.

Hope you'll give this book a look - and check out the OTHER perfect picture books for today at Susanna's blog.
 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

10/15/14

Brainstorming Fun

This post is party of Patty Wysong's
A to Z meme. This week's letter is "B"
A to Z blog hop at Patterings.
 You know, I think most writers would agree that brainstorming for ideas and such is a lot of fun, no matter what you are writing.

But I've got a secret for you. Some brainstorming is more fun than others.

Sure, figuring out where to set your romance can lead you on interesting trails all over the earth (maybe even the universe, if you write that kind of thing). Figuring out what kind of disaster can befall your MC or villain can really get those synapses going.

But brainstorming for children's books? You can go all out crazy-looney-bonkers: and USE the ideas!
I'm polishing a picture book right now about an elephant who is trying to join a band - and tries to play a harmonica. I'd like to see you "adult" writers try to fit that little tidbit into your storyline. There is a new book out (by a debut picture book author!) called One Big Pair of Underwear. Ideas literally CAN come from anywhere - including the laundry basket.
Check out the site - join the fun!

And my favorite time to brainstorm? When I've got friends joining me. In just a couple weeks, I will be participating in my second year of the wonderful Tara Lazar's November challenge PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) - which encourages/ challenges folks to come up with 30 different picture book ideas during the 30 days of November (I managed 47 last year). There are guest posts, prizes, a Facebook group, and more more MORE! And this year, as an added bonus, my daughter will be joining me - so I'll have a live brainstorming partner, along with hundreds of virtual ones.

This is my brain
This is my brain on PiBoIdMo

Totally looking forward to gearing up for my month-long brainstorming session. Anyone wanna join me? PrePiBo starts Saturday the 25th.

Got any fun brainstorming stories?

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1
Check out more  "B" posts here - and add your own if you wish! 

 

10/8/14

Anthropomorphic Animals


 This post is party of Patty Wysong's
A to Z meme. This week's letter is "A"
A to Z blog hop at Patterings.Winnie-The-Pooh
Arthur the Aardvark 

What do these characters have in common? At least two things:
  1. They are characters in children's stories
  2. They are anthropomorphic animals
In case you are unfamiliar with the word, anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to an animal or object. Many classic children's stories have animals that speak, and in other ways act like people.  It was actually pretty common for quite a few years.

But the thing is, some folks in the publishing industry are shying away from them. I've heard from more than a handful of folks that they can be a hard sell, depending on who you are talking to. I've seen writers' guidelines for at least a few magazines that specifically say "no talking animals." And I get it - it's unrealistic.

But there is certainly still a place for these kinds of stories - and they ARE being published. There are some sensitive subjects you can write about with animals as protagonists where it is much more difficult to do so with children as the characters(especially in the picture book market). And, of course, they're just plain fun.

I have been reading a picture book almost daily for the past six month - most of them published within the last half a dozen years, and I've come across quite a few super picture books with anthropomorphic animals. Here are just a few:

Chicks Run Wild by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken, by Kate DiCamillo

Punxsutawney Phyllis by Susanna Leonard Hill

Duck and Goose Go to the Beach by Tad Hills

I Want my Hat Back by Jon Klassen

And of course, there are plenty of children's stories where the animals don't talk (or don't exist, for that matter). But I have to say that I personally have a soft spot for those sweet people-like creatures. Probably half of the picture books I've worked on this year have anthropomorphic animals, and both of the ones I wrote for the FaithWriters Writing Challenge (many MANY moons ago!) did (if you wanna see them, you can click here and here).

So, all you ever wanted to know about anthropomorphic animals in children's books and were afraid to ask! (or something like that) Check out the links below for more "a" themed posts (NOT all about children's books - that I can promise you!) - and feel free to join in!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ANTHROPOMORPHIC STORY/CHARACTER?
 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

10/3/14

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon

For those of you were "here" a few months ago, you know I found this fun little blog hop thing about three weeks before it went on a summer break. Well, it's back (a few weeks back, actually), and I am finally feeling like I have time to jump in. Thanks, Susanna Hill, for giving us a place to share our favorite picture books! (Check out her ever-expanding list of perfect picture books here - and check out what she, and several others, are adding to the list here at her blog)

Title: Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon
Author: Patty Lovell
Illustrator:  David Catrow
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile, 2012, Fiction
Age Range: 5-8 years
Theme/Topics: imagination, found art/objects, friendship

First Page:Molly Lou Melon's toy chest overflowed with whoseywhatsits of all shapes and sizes. Her grandma had told her, "Back in the olden days, I didn't have fancy dolls or action figures. I made toys out of twigs, leaves and flowers like hollyhocks an daisies."

Synopsis: Molly Lou Melon has a house full of plastic toys and gewgaws, but her grandmother never did, and she tells her granddaughter about how she made playthings from found objects when she was young. In spread after spread, the youngster learns to use her imagination. When a new girl moves in next door, Molly Lou introduces her to this new way of playing, but Gertie is stuck in the modern, TV-watching, static-toy world. Of course, Molly Lou is eventually able to turn the tide, showing that imagination rules.

Resources:The website Teach Mentor Texts has a post on this book, with several activities to go along with it. Check it out here . Any activity that challenges kids to use the things around them to have fun (and I'm not talking their tablets or Xboxes!) would go PERFECTLY with this story.

Why I love it:Molly Lou's imagination is CRAZY creative, and the illustrations show it so well. You really do have to see her creations to believe them. I also love her spunk and persistence and self-confidence. And while this story easily could have been preachy, Patty Lovell pulls off a message without being didactic. And don't forget to check the illustrations out - plenty of fun details to find!

 Hope you'll give this book a look - and check out the OTHER perfect picture books for today at Susanna's blog.

 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

9/16/14

Me...and Picture Books

Most of you know I changed my writing focus at the beginning of this year - to writing (actually more learning how to write) children's picture books. I am, and have been, participating in several opportunities to learn and develop my skill in this area this year, from classes to Facebook groups to organizations and more.

I've got a post about my journey to where I am now featured at one of them - Julie Hedlund's 12  x 12 - which challenges folks to write 12 picture book drafts in 2014. Hope you'll stop by and find out a bit about what got me here!

 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

9/9/14

Beach Time!

Even though Michigan is surrounded by natural lakes, they are not the only option. My kids and I took a late-summer trip to a manmade lake - right in the city of Grand Rapids.

The Barn Door

I'm over at the Midwest blog Barn Door today, sharing a bit about our time at this fun location we tried for the first, but most definitely not the last, time. I hope you will stop by and see more about our Day at Millennium Park Beach.



My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

9/5/14

Why?

Why is a common question from kids - AND adults. We want to understand the reason for things - it's natural.

Sometimes those why questions can be tougher than others. Sometimes, we expect a certain result, and get the opposite. And we want to know why.



I'm over at Internet Cafe Devotions today, talking about just that - and how it relates to an Old Testament matriarch, contentment, and being satisfied WITHOUT the answers. Hope you'll stop by and learn about His answer to a commonly asked question: if all is well, Lord, why am I like this?

 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

8/10/14

Pride...and Humility

Things don't always work out the way we think - even if we are doing good things for the Lord. And sometimes, this can be frustrating and confusing. There are several reasons for this - but one that perhaps you haven't considered.


I'm over at the devotional blog Jewels of Encouragement today, talking a bit about it. Hope you'll stop by and see my theory about it - related to Pride and Humility.


My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

8/9/14

Best! Vacation! Ever!




With just a few weeks left until school starts, it's fun to look back on the highlights of the season. For our family, our vacation "up north" was definitely one of them.

The Barn Door

I'm over at the Midwest blog The Barn Door today, sharing a few thoughts - and more than a few pictures - from our four-day vacation. Stop by and see my family as we enjoy things on, under, around, and near The Bridge

 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

7/22/14

Context

Context is VERY important to meaning - especially in God's Word. It is easy to cherry pick a verse and apply it to a situation that doesn't fit.


 I'm over at the devotional blog Jewels of Encouragement today, talking about that very thing - and one time I did exactly that. Hope you'll check out my post on context. Could be interesting - or enlightening!


My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

7/10/14

A New Person

And here I am again. :)


 I'm over at Jewels of Encouragement today, talking about the change that comes over us when we follow God. Hope you'll stop by and read what I, and His Word, have to say about becoming a New Person.

 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

7/9/14

Chalk and Slinkies

Are you wondering how these two things above are related?

Actually, they aren't - other than the fact that they are the subject of a couple posts I wrote, both of which are live today.
The Barn Door
The chalk post? That one is at the Midwest group blog The Barn Door, where I talk a bit about our favorite local festival - and my lovely daughter's participation in it this year. Hope you'll stop by and read about (and see pictures of) Chalk Art - In the Family.

 

And then there's the slinky. My post on THAT one is at Internet Cafe Devotions, where I share how one of those wonderful toys got All Tangled Up. Enjoy!

And stop back tomorrow - I'll have ANOTHER post to share :)


My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

6/22/14

By Name

We aren't just a number - another person on God's list of minions - or an employee in his gynormous company. He knows us - each and every one of us - intimately.

 

I'm over at Jewels of Encouragement today, talking about this wonderful, incredible truth. Come see what I learned - and how I learned - about His knowing each of us By Name.
 
My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. Psalm 45:1

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