Tag Archives: guest blogger

A Writer’s Health Dilemma by Tim Suddeth and Who Won Susan Baganz’s Book?

Tim Suddeth headshotA Writer’s Health Dilemma

By Tim Suddeth

I am learning, as I start this journey of a writer, that I have to careful to keep my life in balance. This became real to me earlier this year when I began to see higher numbers on the scale. Being in my fifties, I didn’t want my weight to keep increasing and I had to do something to get it back under control.

But here’s the problem for a writer. What’s the most important thing we can do for our health? Exercise, get up and get moving.

And as a writer, what are the two things I’m suppose to do the most?

  • Reading, otherwise known as cute hiney in recliner, and
  • Writing, or butt in chair.

Neither one’s conducive to good health.

And don’t tell me to try to do them standing. My brain doesn’t work like that.

So to help me make some lifestyle adjustments, I bought Jenna Wolfe’s Thinner In 30: Small Changes That Add Up To Big Weight Loss In Just 30 Days. I wasn’t concerned about the 30 days as much as I wanted her tips to change my habits.

A few of the tips from the book that I’m doing:

  • Walk 10,000 steps a day. I bought a Fitbit for this and it’s going well. It really pushes me. A lot of evenings I’m walking in place to hit my number. It’s fun to go to bed knowing I achieved my goal.
  • Two to three days of exercise a week. This is in addition to the walking.
  • 20 sips of water when you wake up. I have to admit, I’m getting slack on this.
  • Start a food diary. It makes you question that extra snack when you have to write it down.
  • Rethink what you drink. I have coffee in the morning and water the rest of the time. No sodas except for special occasions.

For me, it’s a struggle to find time to get in my ten thousand steps. Here are my tips if you have a similar goal:

  • Get a good portion of your steps in the morning. I try to have four thousand by noon.
  • Take a break in your reading or writing or get up from your desk job every so often. I try to get up for ten minutes each hour and move around. You can make an exception if you’re in a flow. But don’t let this become an excuse to procrastinate or surf the net.
  • Walk your dog. It really adds to your numbers. Besides, can you possibly be a writer without a dog? Dog walking is great for plotting and working out your characters. And there’s nothing like watching for poo to help you iron out a scene.
  • And your cat. Well, don’t walk it. But enjoy it purring on your chest and feel your heart rate go down.
  • And sometimes, just chill. This is for you, you’re in charge. No competition unless you want it. You’re doing the walking for your heart, don’t get stressed about it.

So where am I now? I’m down ten pounds and staying steady. We’ll see what happens when Halloween comes. But then, I’ll adjust as necessary. After all, your health isn’t a thirty day sprint, it’s a marathon. With a divine celebration at the end.

Bio: Tim Suddeth attended Clemson University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He’s working on his third manuscript and looks forward to seeing his name on a cover. He’s been married over twenty years and has a happy 18-year-old son with autism. You can reach him at timingreenville@gmail.com or www.TimInGreenville.com.

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FetaandFreewaysCover copy-1And who won Susan Baganz’s book, Feta & Freeways?

The winner is . . .

Glenda Mills!

Congratulations, Glenda! Simply contact me with your mailing address and Susan will send the book soon after it releases September 16.

And for those who didn’t win, here’s your direct Amazon link to Feta & Freeways.

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . What I’ll Say To My Children If I’m Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

(Friends, I’m honored to have permission to share this poignant, beautiful post from Cheryl Morgan, a pastor’s wife, mother of six, grandmother of one, and–for eight years–a caregiver for her sweet mama. As a caregiver for several loved ones with Alzheimer’s through the years, I couldn’t hold back the tears as I read her precious writings. Like Cheryl, I’m concerned for my own brain and memory quite often. She wrote this piece for her children and I’m sharing it with mine . . . and with you, sweet friends. Thank you, Cheryl.)

What I’ll Say To My Children If I’m Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

By Cheryl Morgan

I was skimming somCheryl Morgan and her mome other dementia blogs lately and a reader had written in saying, that though she felt guilty about it, she wished her mother would die in her sleep and not have to continue living through the pain and indignity of dementia. I’ve heard others say things like, “I’ve told my kids if I ever get Alzheimer’s just shoot me.”

I understand where these comments are coming from, but they make my heart heavy. I feel like these attitudes devalue my Mom’s life right now. Even though they are not specifically referencing her, they are in effect saying that people like her are better off dead. It is hard to see Mom changing and confused and upset. But she still has sweet times of love and joy, too. And God still has a purpose for her life.

He is growing our patience as we care for her. He is developing our tenderness and mercy. God is giving us opportunities to show love to a dear mom who loved us all so well when she was able and strong. He’s sending us smiles and laughter with Mom’s quirky ways and funny words. He’s challenging us to love faithfully when she is angry and difficult.

People with dementia are still people. And God still has a plan for their lives. Even when they are bedridden and can do nothing at all, maybe their very life keeps us clinging to God more. Maybe their very existence draws us closer to God as we seek Him and cry out to Him.

I fear having AD someday myself. (My mind already concerns me too often.) But if that day comes I’m not going to tell my kids, even jokingly, to just shoot me.

What I would say to them is this . . .

Pray and trust God to guide you. Get as much help as you can. I don’t want you to sacrifice your life plans or family for my sake, but I want to always be part of your life.

If you need to find a nursing home for me, I understand. Pray about it and seek wisely. And then visit me often. Even if I don’t seem to know you, believe in your heart that part of me does. Hold my hand and talk to me. Tell me all about your life. Sing to me and read the Bible to me, please. Brush my hair and tell me memories of your childhood.

If I’m still able to chew be sure to bring chocolate. (You know your mom.) And hopefully I’ll have some adorable grandchildren to marvel at.

And don’t forget to take some time to just sit quietly next to me. Hold my wrinkled hand and let God whisper to your soul. I’m so sorry you have to go through this painful journey with me, but God will give you strength and grow you through it all. Hold fast unto Him. Sink deep into His love.

Everything will be better in heaven. Meanwhile, when I can’t talk anymore; just know that I love you forever and that being a mom to you was an honor and the delight of my life.

That’s what I’d say to my children. Oh, and I might throw in a “Be nice to your brother” for old-time’s sake.

Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. Acts 3:21 NIV

Cheryl Morgan headshot

Cheryl Morgan is a Jesus follower, pastor’s wife, mother of six, and a new grandma! She’s also a caregiver to her mom, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s for eight years. She writes about this journey at God’s Grace and Mom’s Alzheimer’s because she feels compelled to, and is blessed when she hears from readers that it ministers to them.

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Parting Words From The WORD . . . He Precedes Your Every Test

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.
Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Vonda here: I’m thrilled to introduce my friend, Evangelist Aidan McKenzie to you. He’s a dear man of God who has suffered for years from a rare, painful muscle disease that keeps him bedridden much of the time. And yet he sees the medical professionals the Lord has placed in his life as his personal field of ministry. Every time he sends out a testimony of what the Lord is teaching him, Aidan teaches me. If you’d like to receive his encouraging writings, you can reach him at aidanmck [@] aol [dot] com.

HE PRECEDES YOUR EVERY TEST

“Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.” John 6:6

The first man said, “eight months wages . . . is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little,” in order to feed the multitudes (John 6:7). He looked at the situation and concluded that it couldn’t be done because he couldn’t see how; therefore it couldn’t, he wrongly concluded!

The second was a little bit more optimistic. He said there was a lad who had five barley loaves, and two fish, ” . . . but what is that for so many?” He too concluded it couldn’t be done. Why not? Because he couldn’t see how; therefore he wrongly concluded it couldn’t be done.

They both looked at the circumstances logically, and concluded it couldn’t  be done. They excluded Jesus Christ from the circumstance and took the place of the Almighty in their thinking! They failed to relate it to Him who was present. They believed what they saw and not Him who had done so much in their presence previously. They came to the wrong conclusion because they leaned on their own understanding, and when they–and we–do that, they–and we–exclude Him from the scenario . . . and we wrongly conclude, “It can’t be done.” Why not? Because I can’t see how, therefore it can’t be! It is living as though He is not present, able, caring, sufficient. He tested them as He does us and we must remember . . .

In your trial . . .
I may not know how, but I know Whom.

In your trial . . .
He Himself knows what He’s going to do.
That is good news, and meant to bring comfort to our mind and soul.

He precedes your every test . . . He is present in your test . . . He is pre-eminent over your test . . .

He Himself knows what He is going to do!aidan mckenzie headshot 2
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Aidan McKenzie
Reconciliation Ministries INC
PO Box 4052
Greenville, SC 29608
www.proclaiminghim.com

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Portly Prose – Does Your Writing Need a Diet? by Lori Hatcher

Pig PixabayWhen you face a writing assignment with a word count of 250, do you clap or groan? For me, writing with a short word count is much more challenging than writing with a long one.

For several years the editor of a popular anthology invited me to submit 225-word devotions for her consideration. “Two hundred and twenty-five words?” I’d say. “I can’t even build a porch with fewer than 225 words, and you want me to build a whole house?” Crafting a devotion with a hook, scriptural insight, personal application, and conclusion in only a few hundred words seemed impossible.

But I took the challenge. My first attempt tipped the word count scales at an obese 350. I tossed out one of my favorite illustrations. That shaved off 50 words. I reworked the conclusion. Down 25 more. I briefly considered cutting the Scripture verse, but realized that would defeat the whole purpose. My moment of insanity, however, revealed to me how attached I had become to my well-turned phrases. Cut my words or God’s Word? Uh . . . why am I even asking this question?

As I examined my dumpy devotion looking for traces of literary cellulite, I was surprised at what I found. Muffin top metaphors. Saggy similies. Portly prose. Roly-poly rhetoric. Chubby conclusions. My devotion, I discovered, needed much more than a nip and tuck. It needed gastric bypass.

Here are five tips I applied to trim the fat from my writing:
  • Focus on one main idea. Think snapshot, not panorama. Throw out anything that doesn’t directly support your main point.
  • Choose one verse, the strongest one that supports your premise. Resist the urge to throw the whole Book at your readers.
  • Eliminate wordy, conversational phrases. (“In my opinion,” “It appears to me,” and “It’s come to my attention,” are common examples.) These add unnecessary inches to your writing waistline and make your work bulge.
  • Substitute strong verbs for adipose adverbs. If you carefully select your verbs, you won’t need most adverbs. (“Jean silently and slowly walked toward John,” becomes “Jean crept toward John,” saving you three precious words.)
  • Cut most uses of the word “that.” Read the sentence aloud. If it makes sense without “that,” you know the word is dead weight. “To” is also often extraneous. (“Lord, help me to pray more,” becomes, “Lord, help me pray more.”)

These tips will help you tone and tighten your prose, whether you’re squeezing your thoughts into a SizeHand holding scissors 2(00) devotion or donning a billowy 3XXX teaching piece. Just like wriggling into jeans two sizes too small, writing tightly will be painful at first. But unlike those too-tight jeans that hinder your movement, cut off your blood flow, and make you grumpy, changing saggy writing to svelte will force you to write better, think more creatively, and feel more confident about your writing.

Now, if you’re up to the challenge of writing a 200-400-word devotion, check out these fine publications:

Christian Devotions (300-400 words)

Light From the Word (200-400 words)

The Secret Place  (100-200 words)

The Upper Room Devotional (~250 words)

Lori Hatcher-1Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of two devotional books. Her second book is Hungry for God…Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. A blogger, writing instructor, and women’s ministry speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God…Starving for Time. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).

Lori is a graduate of Christian Communicators speakers training conference and has taught at the Christian Communicators ADVANCED Conference.

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Will You Be One of the 30 at Christian Communicators? It’s Already Half-Full!ccclogosmall

Christian Communicators is a speaking conference unlike any you’ve ever attended. It’s not simply a conference…it’s a community of like-minded women who continue to encourage, help, and pray for each other long after the conference is over! 

It’s a full-package conference that includes so much more than simply speaker training. After all, speakers need headshots and videos, business and networking classes, and after-conference phone coaching…and that’s exactly what 30 ladies get at Christian Communicators!

And there’s no better place to connect with the Father than at The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, NC!

Check out the CCC details and then reserve your spot–before it’s too late!

Happy Writing!

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Your “Write” Role, Part 4

Jim Watkins headshotVonda here: I can’t believe it, but here we are already, at Part 4 of author, speaker, and threat to society, James Watkins‘ keynote at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Of course, you don’t want to read the last of the series without reading the first of it, so here are direct links to Parts 1-3: “Your ‘Write’ Role,” Part 1, “Your ‘Write’ Role,” Part 2, and “Your ‘Write’ Role,” Part 3. This four-part Parting Words Fridays is unlike anything you’ve ever seen here, or probably anywhere else for that matter!

So pull up a chair, put on your creative-thinking-and-real-life-application-hat, and hear Jim’s heart for Christian writers and speakers, Part 4, taken from 1 Corinthians 12, as paraphrased by the New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers.

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Your “Write” Role, Part 4

By James Watkins

 

4. You have an incarnational role in Christian writing

I’ll give you a second to let that truth sink in until I see whiffs of smoke coming out your ears.

I’m not diminishing the role of preachers, but writers have exponentially more influence and longevity! The average church in America runs less than 100 people. As a magazine writer, you can reach a thousand times that number with just one article.

And, unless the sermon is recorded and posted online, it stops reaching new people after the last amen! But as a writer, your work can last for years in waiting rooms and bathroom magazine racks. Thomas a’ Kempis’ Imitation of Christ is still in print over 500 years since he wrote it and continues to be a best-seller, second only to the Bible!Jim Watkins cartoon headshot

And even if your book goes “out of print,” it doesn’t go out of existence. It lives on until Jesus comes in homes, in church libraries, in garage sales!

I recently received this email:

I cannot tell you, how much reading the three chapters that i did just before writing meant for me. I am so thrilled with the way the Lord has gifted you not only in your writing; but primarily your love for Jesus and the deep Spirit filled way you have written this book.

It was from India . . . concerning a book that had long gone out of print . . . on a day I was feeling especially un-important!

God uses our words to communicate his Word!

Without the written word, Christianity would have never made it past the first century. The writing of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John preserved the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The writings of the church fathers, such as Augustine, gave us a systematized theology and kept heresy at bay.

Communicate to Change LIves Jim Watkins coverAnd as the relationship with the living Christ slowly devolved into a religion of works, legalism, profiteering and politics, Catholic writers like Thomas a’ Kempis reminded us of the pure, intimate relationship with Jesus in his The Imitation of Christ. Martin Luther’s 96-Point Thesis reminded us that salvation is by faith and faith alone.

And today, holy men and women are using pens and pixels to write the love of God on the hearts of followers and seekers as well. So, you and I are a part of the parade of published writers who have kept the Word alive for over 2,000 years. I’ll probably be in the tiny clown car.

For me, writing is an act of worship.

It’s acknowledging the important, indispensable role in writing that God has entrusted to me.

It’s fellowshipping with other writers, agents, editors, and publishers as an interdependent part of this eternal work.

It’s rejoicing in my individuality that God has personally, uniquely, lovingly crafted me into a writing instrument for his glory.

And it’s shaking with holy joy and fear that I am an incarnation of the Word of God!

Copyright © 2015 James N. Watkins

Vonda here: Wow, Jim. Wow. Thank you for your powerful, encouraging reminder that we truly are “…His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NASB)

Jim, thank you for sharing His heart through the lens of His hope and your humor. We love and appreciate you! And friends, if you appreciate Jim message, I hope you’ll visit his site and support his work as he walks the journey God created him to do!

Bio: Jim wears more hats than his Aunt Luella!Jim Watkins real headshot
*Associate acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House
*Conference speaker throughout the U.S. and overseas
*Director of programming for St. Davids Writers’ Conference
*Editorial advisor for ACW Press

You can reach Jim through his site at www.HopeAndHumor.org or www.JamesWatkins.com.

Thank you for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

Don’t miss @JamesWatkinsCom final fun–but real–writers’ take on 1 Cor 12 -Part 4 via @VondaSkelton #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…Your “Write” Role, Part 2

Jim Watkins headshotVonda here: After seeing your incredible response to Part 1 of author, speaker, and threat to society, James Watkins‘ keynote at Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, I’m even more excited to share Part 2 today! Before you read today’s post, you may want to check out “Your ‘Write’ Role,” Part 1 first. This four-part Parting Words Fridays will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen here, or probably anywhere else for that matter!

So pull up a chair, put on your creative-thinking-and-real-life-application-hat, and hear Jim’s heart for Christian writers and speakers, Part 2, taken from 1 Corinthians 12, as paraphrased by the New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers.

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Your “Write” Role, Part 2
By James Watkins

 

2. You have an interdependent role in Christian writing

When I was directing another Christian writers conference on the east coast, one of the faculty came and sat down beside me.

“I’m working on my novellas about women of the Bible. I was wondering if I could bounce some ideas off you?”

“Uh, excuse me?”

“I respect you and would like your opinion.”

“Uh, well, I guess . . .”

That woman was our keynote speaker, Francine Rivers! Francine Redeeming Love Rivers!

I met her just recently at Mount Hermon where she was there as a conferee! “I can always learn something new.” And she asked me to pray for the work of turning that book into a major, A-list film!

That’s the beauty when Christian publishing works as the Body of Christ.

The King James Version translates 1 Corinthians 3:16-17:

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

That verse has been used as a Louisville slugger against anything the person swinging it believes harms the body. But the King James translators failed to take into consideration that Greek has two separate words for “you”: you singular and you plural. If you’re from the south, you already know that. You is singular. “Y’all” is plural.

The New Living Translation acknowledges that Paul is using “y’all.”

Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? God will destroy anyone who destroys this temple. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple (1 Corinthians 12:25-27).

That verse is not talking about the human body at all! Y’all’s the Temple or Body of Christ.

So Paul is not telling us to take care of our own bodies because they’re the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We Jim Watkins cartoon headshotshould take care of our bodies, but that’s not the point he’s making here. You’re important all right, but you’re interdependent! Y’all’s a part of the Body of Christ, and y’all need to take care of each other!

Gone are the days of Emily Dickinson when you could be a recluse, never leave the house and still be a best-selling author.

Publishing is a relationship between you and your readers. That’s why building your “tribe” with social networking is so important.

It’s a relationship between you and your agent in planning your writing career and choosing the projects that best fit your “brand.”

And it’s a relationship between you and your publisher. Editors are not cold and heartless people—those would be the marketing minions. No! Even marketers are a part of this writing body.

We all need to work like a body. But the absolute worse place to watch that play out is in church. For instance, here’s how a body would act if it acted like some churches.

You’re putting up paneling with those microscopic finishing nails and you hit your thumb. You roll your eyes, shake your head in disgust and scold, “You did it again! How many sermons have you heard about ‘fleeing even the appearance of hammers’? Or that ‘the love of hammers is the root of all evil’? And you were nearly through the twelfth step of H.A. And now, you’ve gone and got yourself hammered! I’m sorry, but you brought it on yourself and I’m tired of your excuses.

Is that how your body works? Here’s how mine works:

You scream: words of loving compassion

You stick your thumb in your mouth: Warm, protective comfort

And you dance! The whole body involved in ministering to the suffering part.

Communicate to Change LIves Jim Watkins coverSo, here’s another passage from the New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version for Writers:

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by passive verbs, you who are members of the writers’ group should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path of action verbs. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself using adverbs to prop up weak verbs. Gently critique and enthusiastically encourage one another, as we follow The Word and the Author of Our Faith (Galatians 6:1-2).

And why do you do that? Because he or she is a part of the same body you are a part of! So treat that “thumb” like your thumb—because it is! We are interdependent, so when one suffers, we all suffer.

In the same way, when one is honored, we’re all honored.

Secular celebrities do a much better job of sharing the honor than most Christians. On the red carpet, they proudly announce who designed their gown. And when they win an award they thank their agents, managers, spouses, and the Academy, and on and on . . . until the music ushers them off stage.

So when Jerry Jenkins sells another million books, I’m honored too, as his friend and spiritual brother. And when my friend gets her 36th rejection for her series Jesus Calling from the Purpose-Driven Shack, I hurt with her.

Well, before we get too depressed thinking about rejection, let’s keep moving . . .

Now in the ministry of writing, God has appointed novelists, letter writers, those who have the gift of poetry, local church reporters, best-selling authors, devotional writers, those who write their legislators, and those with the gift of writing advertising copy.

Are all novelists? Do all write letters to the editor? Do all have the gift of poetry? Are all local church reporters? Are all best-selling authors? Are all devotional writers? Do all write their legislators? Do all have the gift of writing advertising copy? No! But eagerly desire the greater gift of writing with love.

You have an important role in Christian writing.

You have an interdependent role in Christian writing and . . .

Vonda again: Thank you, Jim! Friends, be sure to return next Friday for Part 3 of James Watkins’ Your Write Role. You’ll be glad you did…and so will the rest of your Body. :-)

Copyright © 2015 James N. WatkinsJim Watkins real headshot

Bio: Jim wears more hats than his Aunt Luella!
*Associate acquisitions editor for Wesleyan Publishing House
*Conference speaker throughout the U.S. and overseas
*Director of programming for St. Davids Writers’ Conference
*Editorial advisor for ACW Press

You can reach Jim through his site at www.HopeAndHumor.org or www.JamesWatkins.com.

Thank you for Tweeting…Sharing is sweet!

Another hilarious–but real–writers’ take on 1 Cor 12 – Part 2 by @JamesWatkinsCom via @VondaSkelton #amwriting (Click to Tweet)

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your heart,

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities for YOU!

newspapersYes, it’s the 3rd Tuesday, and time to share some writing opportunities to help you with your writing career. Don’t forget to let us celebrate with you if you succeed in getting a publishing credit!

Don’t forget to follow guidelines carefully. You could have a great submission that’s never considered because the guidelines weren’t followed.

1.  Established critique group has openings: Fellow writers: Our online writers’ critique group has four openings. We are Christian women writing for children and young adults. Whether you’re published or yearn to be, if you’re interested, email your short bio with your writing experience, preferred age-level and/or genre of children’s literature to: notavw@yahoo.com. We’ll review and get back to you by August 15 with our format and guidelines. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Parting Words From The WORD…I’m His Favorite, by Judith Robl

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(Thank you to writer and speaker Judith Robl for responding to my call-out for guest bloggers. With all the recent writing conferences, I thought her devotion is perfect for today. Thank you, Judith!)

I’m His Favorite, by Judith Robl

Focus verses: Genesis 37:3-11

Joseph is a boy – a teenager really. Can’t you just imagine his youthful cockiness as he tells his dreams to his brothers?

And the fact that he is his father’s favorite just adds fuel to the fire.

At a writers’ conference several years ago, I sat at the supper table with a young woman who’d had a great day. She concluded her recitation of God’s blessings to her with “I’m His favorite.” As we all took turns sharing our triumph for the day, she’d interject to each “how wonderful! You’re God’s favorite.” It became a running by-word for the remainder of the conference. And it was a reminder to us that God cared about each of us in every detail.

In fact, we’re each God’s favorite. He loves us each as if we were His only child. But this does not give us reason to be cocky and self-assured.

Rather it should make us more sensitive to the feelings of others, more ready to encourage and support their efforts to know God better.

We can best reflect His love by speaking gently and humbly, by loving unconditionally, and by admonishing softly with God’s truth.

Father, God,
Wrap us in the security of Your love. Help us reflect it to all we meet who are starving for knowledge of You.
In Jesus most precious name,
AmenJudith Robl headshot

Bio: Judith Robl is the author of As Grandma Says (Harvest House) and founder of Reflected Light Ministries and speaks to women’s groups about prayer, forgiveness, and drawing closer to God. Trained as a secondary level English teacher, Judith has a heart for mentoring. She and her husband, Martin, have been married almost 50 years and enjoy time with their grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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Parting Words From The WORD…I Can Do It All

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(Thanks to Edie Melson for allowing me to repost this much-needed message while I’m in AZ with my mother. I admit, it’s a message I need to hear again and again!)

I Can Do It All, by Edie Melson

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

This was one of the first Bible verses I ever memorized. It’s a heady verse for someone like me. Someone who loves to say yes for two reason— the sheer joy of being involved and the fear others wouldn’t like me if I couldn’t perform. It was a dangerous combination. But I truly believed this verse gave me the ability to say yes to everything, and God would provide a way.

Fast forward several years, and the price of saying yes began to take it’s toll on my mind and body. I no longer lived a life of joy and victory. Instead I was a slave of over commitment. And I finally broke. It wasn’t pretty. Diagnosed with severe depression and several other mental health challenges it took me months to recover.

It was a painful lesson, and one I had to learn to ever be able to move forward. When forced to give up everything, I thought I’d never get to do anything fun again and that everyone would dislike me. (Stupid I know, but it’s really what I believed.) Slowly I began to realize God’s plan didn’t involve me saying yes to every good activity or need within my community.

I also discovered that when I said yes to something that wasn’t intended for me, I was in the way. I’d taken a task from someone else and denied them the joy of obedience. I’d become a roadblock in the journey God had for them.

I’ve also learned not to equate a need with a call from God. By that I mean just because I see a hole that needs filling it’s not my job to jump in. God has proven perfectly capable of providing for the needs of those around me.

Now I’m living a much more balanced and joyful life. I’m still not perfect, there are days I just can’t say no. But He’s shown me that the things He’s given me weigh no more than a feather, no matter how labor intensive. But when I pick up a job or a burden on my own, no matter how small the time commitment, it weighs on me like a ton of bricks. That in itself makes me wary about saying yes without hearing from God.

To sum it all up:

I’ve learned that I really can do it all…as long as I’m not trying to do everything.

Today I encourage you to look at the balance in your life. Do you need to lay something down that’s intended for someone else? Are you crying out for rest because you’re carrying a load not meant for you? There is rest and peace, all you have to do is let go.

Edie Melson, originally posted on The Write Conversation 4-14-13

 

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Planning is Not a Dirty Word: 5 Tips to Being a More Productive Writer by Susan Sleeman, & Kudos, MoGo, & a Free Book!

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/koratmember

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/koratmember

Yep, It’s April 15: A Great Day to Have Author Susan Sleeman Talk About PLANNING (And we’re NOT talking about taxes!)

Feel like you’re drowning in tax advice? Don’t worry, we’re not going to talk about the IRS. No, no, no! We’re going to talk about IMPORTANT stuff, like planning our novels! And that’s something all us novelists need to hear.

I’m thrilled to have Susan Sleeman with us today as she shares her five tips to being more productive as a writer. Be sure to read her bio below, but let me tell you that Susan is an award-winning and award-nominated author, so if she speaks, I think we should all be listening!

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