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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Week Twenty-Seven: Cheryl Wolverton

No Burden


“This is love, not that we had loved God, but that he had loved us, and sent his Son to be as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10 (NIV)




This is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. We get so caught up in today’s world about what others are saying, what we hear from the television or what we hear in every day chatting with friends. The world is filled with me-first or if I want this then everyone else should bow down and give me that. Tolerance is the key today to functioning without being lambasted. If you have an opinion that isn’t considered tolerant of everyone and every idea out there, you’re labeled intolerant.


It can be a heavy burden, especially to a writer when he or she is trying to paint a picture of God’s love. But we can go back to this verse and be reminded that what is really important is God’s love. God’s love was presented to us before we even knew He loved us. So really, if we’re focused on God’s love and sharing that love with others, it doesn’t matter how the world changes, what others say, what we see on TV because ultimately, God loves us and sent His Son as an offering for our sins.


You can have absolute peace in life’s turmoil when you think about that. I mean, seriously, God loves you so much that He sent His son. What does it matter if someone comes to you and tells you that you’re intolerant and your book is narrow because it presents God as the only way to life? Does it matter when someone tells you that you aren’t being friendly because you refuse to go to a bar where your work is having a party? You’re being intolerant of others.


In these circumstances you remind yourself of what it all is really about. It’s not about us, but about what God did for us.


And we can smile.  I ask you today to consider this and when you feel burdened down by life or by others, remind yourself what God did for you and it’ll help lift that heavy burden from your heart.









Cheryl Wolverton lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with Steve, her husband of over 24  years and her two children. For fun, the family likes to play cards, roller blade together, walk along the levee of the Mississippi River and especially visit anything that has to do with science, including stargazing. For info about her books, visit her at www.cherylwolverton.com

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Week Twenty-Six: John Westervelt

Only A Letter Writer


“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.”
------2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (NAS)





Those were simpler days. The year was 1954. Nelda and I, newlyweds from Oklahoma, set up housekeeping in New Jersey where I would work for Bell Telephone Laboratories.  Long distance telephoning was only for funerals, so I wrote my mother one week and Nelda’s the next. Nelda wrote the other mother. The weekly letters continued after moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Nelda’s mother has sent me a letter each week for fifty years.


Let me share a part of my June 26, 1994 letter to my daughter, sister, and mother-in-law.
Sunday June 19, 1994--
 



Dear Mary Kim, Harriette, and Mom,


On Tuesday I attended the Tulsa Christian Writers’ Club. First time guests are asked to tell something about themselves and what they write. On my first visit last fall I said, “I write a weekly letter.” At the spring Writers’ Conference my answer to similar questions was, “I am a student of writing.”
Regularly the club has a writing contest for members present at the meeting. The contest theme handed out at this meeting is “That’s What Friends Are For.” This week I wrote about Nelda’s untimely death. To meet the 600 word limit, I cut fat, followed by muscle, and finally I scraped bones. Should I win or place then I could be a real writer.



My condition of “only a letter-writer” prompts a story.
The year was 50 AD. Two mothers from Tarsus met for the first time in many years.



“Abigail, so good to see you. It has been a long time and we
were such good friends when our boys were students together at the synagogue. Tell me about your family. I remember your son always won the school’s writing contests. He seemed so gifted. Has he used his gift professionally?”



“Hannah, you know he was a good boy and a natural leader. However, I have been disappointed on two counts. One, he never married so I have no grandson. And secondly, he has written nothing noteworthy. Oh, Paul has written some letters which he tells me are read by the churches he has started.”


Love, Dad, John.


My story, “My Best Friend,” won first place in the contest, so I became a writer. This story is on www.jwestervelt.com. “My Best Friend” can be found under Heartwarming Stories, year 1995.





John C. Westervelt of Tulsa, Oklahoma has published a book about his boyhood in the 1930s. He is a volunteer at his churchs weekday preschool.






Sunday, March 30, 2014

Week Twenty-Five: Barbara J Robinson

Why Write When You Keep Getting Rejections?




“Praise be to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.” Psalm 144:1(NIV)


The best rejection I ever received was from an editor who said my novel was eloquently written and bright with vivid dialogue. She boasted of how it piqued the reader’s interest from the first page and held it raptly until the last. She said I had created beautifully strong, believable characters, and I was talented. She raved that my novel was clearly much more than a book. She said it was truly inspiring and thought-provoking. I was beaming until I read on and came to the clincher, which said after careful consideration they decided not to publish it since it didn’t fit in with their list of titles.


Why do I continue to write despite rejection after rejection?

After having been published numerous times in local newspapers and anthologies, winning first prize in fiction-writing competition, and having my short story published in a literary magazine, I decided it was time to start submitting my work seriously. With one submission came the rejection letter above, bringing me to the question of why I write. I feel my writing ability is God-given for the purpose of enabling me to reach out and help others. I feel God wants me to keep trying. It was through my writing I learned I had made a difference in one life, the life of my little sister. She wrote me after reading one of my poems and said I had taught her to pray when we were kids. If not for a poem I had written, we could have gone our whole lives through, and I would never have known. I want others to experience the personal relationship I have with God and, hopefully, show them how they, too, can have that same productive relationship. If my writing makes a difference in saving one lost sheep, I will have served God by bringing another to His kingdom.As Jesus told stories, I believe writers should remember that it is His lost sheep who need saving, and it is up to us to use His method. The most important difference we, as writers, can make in the lives of others is the difference between eternal life and death.


Money and fame do not begin to compare with learning that you, personally, have made a difference in the life of another human being, no matter how small, like teaching my sister to pray as a child. Writing can bring you closer to others by letting you share your life, hopes, dreams, goals, and insights with others and be used as a tool for building bridges and relationships. It allows writers to reach out and touch, really communicate through the power of the written word. Writing brings you closer to others, opens up new worlds by allowing you to invent your own new worlds and share them with others, and by allowing you to grow as a person, with your writing, as you progress on a journey of self-discovery. Writing may just give someone else a whole new world, a better world, one with God. Then, you will have made a real difference.




Author, B. J. Robinson, is an award-winning, multi-published author with four traditionally published novels as well as independently published short stories, novellas and novels. She writes from Florida with a golden cocker spaniel named Sunflower, golden retriever named Honi, and a shelter cat named Frankie for company, blessed with a husband, children, and grandchildren. Jesus is her best friend. She's an avid reader and passionate writer. Visit her at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBJRobinson, http://www.amazon.com/B.-J.-Robinson/e/B007DNJIKU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel or http://barbarajrobinson.blogspot.com.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Week Twenty-Four: Kathy Ide

God's Calling To Write



“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Acts 1:8  (NKJV)





Have you ever read an article, book, or story that really touched your heart? Did you ever think about what had to happen for that piece to get into your hands?


Before you could read it, someone had to buy it from someplace. That place had to purchase it from a publisher, who had to get it from an author. Before that, the author had to have the idea to write it. Even before that, God had to touch that author’s heart with a call to write.


God knows how long it takes to get a manuscript written
(and rewritten, revised, edited, proofread), accepted, and published. He also knows who is going to need to read what He wants you to write, and He knows precisely when those people are going to need it.

Since God knows all that, and since His timing is perfect, we can relax! We can trust that He called us at the right time, and He gave us everything we need to fulfill His plan.


Think again about that piece you read that touched your heart. What if the author had let rejection letters or the cost of
a writers’ conference or some critical comments from an editor
crush her spirit so that she turned her back on God’s calling? Then the moment when God touched your heart would never have happened.


If God is calling you to write, that’s every bit as important as if He were calling you to a foreign missions field. Being a writer is
a lot like being a missionary.


Missionaries go through extensive training, including learning the language and cultures of the countries they’re traveling to. Writers need to learn everything they can about how to best reach their target audience.


Missionaries need sponsors. Writers need people who can support them emotionally, financially, and through prayer.


Missionaries are often misunderstood. Your loved ones may
question why you’re working so hard at something that seems to have so little reward.


Missionaries suffer squalid conditions and adverse circumstances because they believe in their calling. If God has called you to write, you may have to squeeze in writing time and costs among all your other priorities.


Missionaries are often rejected by the people they are trying to reach. If you submit queries, proposals, or manuscripts to publishing
houses, you will be rejected. But you mustn’t let a few—or even
several—rejections sway you from the task God has called you to.


A missionary can reach many people. An author can reach countless individuals through a book or article or story.

If God is calling you to be His witness through writing, you have His promise to receive power from the Holy Spirit to fulfill that task.


Kathy Ide is a published author/ghostwriter, editor/mentor, and writers’ conference speaker. Her latest book is Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. Kathy is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Connection (www.ChristianEditor.com). To find out more, visit www.KathyIde.com.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Week Twenty-Three: Donna Shepherd

Is Fear Your Master?


For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
—Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)

In first grade, my teacher gave me an assignment to paint a poster- size picture. Every day I spent part of my recess time staying inside and working on it. But since I’m a bit of a perfectionist, I made little progress. One day my teacher came in to see how much I’d accomplished and exclaimed, “This is how much you’ve got done?”

I can still remember how hot my face felt and see the disappointment in her eyes. I thought I’d done well, but realized at that moment how slowly I had worked. She wanted to cultivate my talent for drawing, and agreed to let me continue, but begged me to “pick up the pace.”

I wasn’t afraid of the teacher, so what was I afraid of? Imperfection. I wanted the picture to be perfect. I wanted to do it right so badly, I agonized over every stroke of the paintbrush.
I struggle even today with that same fear as a writer. I want the words to be perfect. And to think the Lord is using me? Oh, my, how much more right do they need to be if I am speaking on
behalf of my Lord?

When I think of something as perfect, I envision something without any flaws. And we read in the Bible we are supposed to be perfect. Matthew 5:48: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.(NIV)
But how can this be? We are not perfect. If we were, we wouldn’t have needed our Savior, Jesus Christ, in the first place.

Perfection, as used in Scripture in regard to our everyday life, means maturity and completeness.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Matthew 5:48 says, “It is the duty of Christians to desire, and aim at, and press towards perfection in grace and holiness. And therein we must study to
conform ourselves to the example of our heavenly Father. Surely more is to be expected from the followers of Christ than from others; surely more will be found in them than in others.”

And to that statement I say, “Amen!” There is more expected of us, and there should be. We are writing for the only one who IS perfect, and ours is a life of example. I don’t want to be a baby in
Christ. My desire is to be a mature believer aiming for a higher standard of excellence so my Lord will be proud of me.

One of my favorite verses is found in Psalm 138:8, “The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.”
God will help us become the writers, painters, the artists, He would have us be.
In first grade, I fretted over every paint stroke, and now? I
struggle with keystrokes. Perhaps fear is keeping you from writing or ministering in some other way. Maybe you’re like me, always reaching for perfectionism. It’s easy to think even good is unattainable when agents, editors, and assorted professionals hand out rejections on a regular basis.

It was a great comfort to me when I acknowledged there is only one who is perfect, and God uses plain, ordinary, flawed people like you and me. As our Master, God loves us and uses us by the power of the Holy Spirit to do His work on earth. It’s an honor to be used by God in any way, but if He allows me to be one who can convey words of wisdom, or comfort, or peace while here on earth, I’m humbled, yet elated, at the thought.


  • Donna J. Shepherd, children's picture book author and inspirational writer, has hundreds of articles and devotions to her credit. Her writings appear in Daily Grace for Women, Anytime Prayers for Everyday Moms, and The Best Grandma in the World to name a few. Her children's books feature short, playful rhymes and humorous illustrations. Donna is founder of Greater Harvest Workshops and Middletown Area Christian Writers, and in demand as a Bible teacher, conference speaker, and singer with over thirty years of experience. Visit Donna on the web at http://www.donnajshepherd.com.





Sunday, March 09, 2014

Week Twenty Two: Donna Bolk

One Step At A Time




His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thous thither again? Jesus answered. “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, he stumbleth because there is no light in him.”
John 11:8-10 (KJV)



One of the wonderful things about the Bible is that we can all read the same passage and get different meanings. For me this passage is very straightforward. The darkness is a mental not a physical thing. And the light is our faith. Faith in God. Faith in self.
Faith in the people and things we love.


At one time, I considered myself to be a head cheerleader, the first to grab my pompoms and do the believe in yourself cheer. A series of stumbles landed me in the dark and I packed away my pompoms. The darkness hit me a few years ago, with the publication of my first novel. I thought I was walking in the daylight, on the right path, no stumbling here. I had written a fantastic novel. I sent it off, and received the standard number of rejections, and then (enter giant ray of sunshine) I found a publisher. I was on a sunny path, dancing in the daylight, rejoicing in my good fortune.

Wrong.


The publisher turned out to be not right for me and I had to face some honest truths about myself.After all my years of struggle, I had lost a very important part of myself. I had reached the point where I sought the glory of being published. I wasn’t being true to God or to myself. I lost sight of my goals and beliefs, and in doing so, took for granted all that God blessed me with in regards to being a writer.


I’m red-faced to admit I was a slow learner. I blamed my writing woes on everyone, from the editors I had submitted to (who I swore had no idea what a good novel was) to the publisher who didn’t work out for me, to the dog who barked too much and broke my concentration. When in truth the blame landed squarely on one person.
Me.


In time I realized I had to see not only through the darkness, but also through the false light I surrounded myself in. My biggest revelation was that I didn’t need to be published. I didn’t need to validate myself in anyone’s eyes. God already believed in me which was all that mattered. I had to go back to my writing roots and embrace the fact that it was from Him I was given my gift of writing.
And yes, I totally believe it is a gift. When I am writing, I’m on a different level. I go to a different place outside myself. I see and feel and love and hurt what all the characters I create go through. There is no other feeling to compare with being in the writer’s zone.
My second novel will be published in a few months, which is very nice, but it’s not that big a deal. What is a big deal is that I’ve dusted off those pompoms. I’m once again a head cheerleader. I’ve come to realize being a writer isn’t about being published, it about loving what I do, and never again taking for granted God’s gift to me.


I gave up on me, but God never did. And because of His belief in me, I can now walk both in the daylight and the darkness.


Will all my travels be stumble free?


Probably not. But that’s okay, I’m not afraid of stumbling. God is with me, whether I’m in daylight or darkness, all I have to do is take His hand.










Donna L. Bolk, Award winning author, makes her home in
Maryland with her husband Kevin. She is the proud mom of three
sons, and several little fur kids.  For more information visit Donna on the web at  www.donnalbolk.com.






Sunday, March 02, 2014

Week Twenty-One: Robin Bayne

I'm up this week!


True Treasure


“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (NIV)




This verse, one of my favorites, comes right after another telling us not to store up our treasures on Earth, but to store them in Heaven. I like to think that’s what we do as Christian writers. It means that words we struggle to write have Heavenly value, whether they are published and read by millions, or jotted on a note card for someone in need to see.


What about that stack of rejections on your desk? Besides keeping them to prove to the IRS that you’re seriously pursuing a writing career, what value do they have? It may not seem as though this stack hosts a hidden treasure, but it really does. Because it proves you are following your calling. Rejections aren’t glamorous.

In fact, they are pretty depressing. They don’t necessarily lead to treasures in this lifetime.
There’s a real pressure on new writers to polish their work, join critique groups and quickly submit, as if they aren’t validated as writers without publication. It can feel overwhelming at times, sucking the joy and motivation from our creativity. But if we can step back, and realize that what we write is planned by Him and not us, and for a purpose we may or may not ever know this side of Heaven, we can enjoy the process and know we are following His will. We never know if something we write will touch just one person, according to a divine plan.

Write words from your heart, pray for direction, and you’ll store your treasures where it counts.