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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Week Seventeen: Liz Hoyt Eberle

Chapter Two:    Persistence Through Trials and Rejections


You're Kidding!    My Words




“I will teach you what you shall do….” Exodus 4:15 (NAS)




Moses had a problem with words and complained to the Lord, “I have never been eloquent….” so God made a promise to Moses. Those words from Exodus are printed on a dog-eared card that sits on my desk.


As a child, words were my passion and when I became a mother I wrote more words, words that to me were larger than life and significant, but I hid them away in folders and boxes believing they were not eloquent. I was amazed when our church published a book of my Advent devotionals for mothers in the
1970s and hope was born. I took writing courses and began
submitting work for publication, but rejections of my work soon became rejections of myself so I concentrated more on raising my foster children, my own children and earning a living. I became a closet writer, usually falling asleep with either a book or a pen in hand. Somewhere along the way, I stopped listening to God.


Time passed, computers came on the scene, people left, lives changed and I moved my disabled daughter, her son and my boxes all over central Texas. Kicking, screaming and complaining, my focus quietly shifted from myself and “my words” back to trusting the Lord of my life. I settled my family in a new community where I was director of the local senior citizen center and one day I was stunned to discover the boxes containing my papers and folders had survived the years and moves. I hesitated long enough to read the scripture verse on my desk, then quickly put together a series of stories about Christmas and mailed them to the editor of our small-town weekly newspaper. A month later, almost out of my office for Thanksgiving vacation, I received a telephone call from the newspaper editor, asking permission to run all six of those stories in December, because he “loved my gift of words.” I had never recognized “my words” as a gift from God.


I had forgotten He just wanted me to listen, and to do.


I have become neither rich nor famous, but as each new door opened, I learned just what I needed to know. Twenty-five of my feature stories were published in our local newspaper and thirteen of my stories were published in sixteen main-stream national anthology volumes. However, in the process of writing one feature story, I met an astonishing man who became my late- in-life, new and most beloved husband.


Allowing God to teach this stubborn writer what I need to
know is hard but when I wait on Him, trust Him and listen to Him,
I am at peace, knowing just what I need to know, whether I am cooking, throwing a party, cleaning, praying with friends or passionately writing and revising words.






Liz Hoyt Eberle lives in the Texas hill country. As chief caregiver to her beloved husband and to her adult daughter Liz now has little time to wonder about the future. But, she constantly scribbles new words on odd scraps of paper, occasionally posts to her blog, http://myprayingchairs.blogspot.com, and continues to gather material for characters in the lives of strangers who wander in and out of her life. Liz is trying to grow old gracefully and always has encouraging words for struggling writers. Read her full resume at www.lizwritesintexas.com 



Week Sixteen: Joanne Schulte



Writer's Psalm




I delight in the work you have given me, Lord; I offer it to you. Day and night I meditate on the message you would have me pass on to others through my writing. May it be like a tree offering shade to those exhausted by lifes experiences. May it be like fruit, offering refreshment to those who need to see You in a new way. I ask that You keep me away from those who would discourage me. That I might not adopt the cynicism of the unsuccessful. Or the discouragement of the rejection slip. I confess that sometimes my words feel like chaff. Worthless, ready to blow away. Watch over me, Lord. Bring me back to the green and shady banks of your fellowship


Keep me planted by your stream of living water. Give me words in your season. Give me leaves in all seasons. Let Your message prosper.






 
Joanne Wright Schulte began writing for the Lord in 2002 and just recently has begun a speaking ministry too. Her work has appeared in many publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She enjoys, music, reading, writing and speaking.

 
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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Week Fifteen: Linda Rondeau

The Writer’s Wrappings




The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it. ~ James Bryce (British Historian)

“For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (KJV)

I couldn’t understand it. I had mimicked her stance to perfection. My mother-in-law’s drives rarely missed the fairway. I reasoned that if I did everything exactly as she did, then I should be as good a golfer as she was. Committed to my false assumptions, I struggled the entire season with poor results until the reason for my failings finally registered in my stubborn and resistive brain. Kathryn stood five feet two inches. Her swing was perfect for her height and body build. I, on the other hand, was five feet eight inches. I had not calculated how a swing is developed according to a person’ s physiology. No golf technique is designed as universally applicable.

I spent the next season studying a variety of techniques and trying to develop a swing that matched my build, age, and club capability. With diligence and adaptability, I began to see more and more drives land in the fairway.

As writers, we are driving a message toward the green of a person’s heart. Some of us write romance. Some of us write humor while others present the truth through legends and fantasy. Once our manuscript is complete, we market our message according to our anticipated readership. Some use a speaking platform, some send out postcards, some advertise online, and some have helpers who spread the word on their behalf.

Most writers will choose a combination of marketing venues to bring their message to the forefront. In each case, the writer will be “all things to all people” that some may read and believe. Paul had a message to give the world: Jesus Saves. The message content never changed, his delivery methods were dependent upon his circumstances. For the jailer, he’d forego the opportunity of escape. For the tempest-tossed seaman, he endured shipwreck. For the Greeks, he appealed to their belief in an unknown God. For the Hebrews, he reminded them of their heritage. He strove to be “all things to all men” in order to win some.

Through the might of His great love, God has designed a unique package for every sinner He woos. He will do whatever He must to bring us to enlightenment. He may present himself in the whisper of a breeze or the thunderous trail of a tornado. He may reveal himself through the cry of a newborn infant or through burnt toast. He may rein us in or give us slack. The method He chooses has been designed specifically for the recipient of His love. He is “all things to all people” that some may choose to believe.

Linda Rondeau has published eight books and now resides in Florida with her husband of thirty-five years. Now retired from her long career in human services, she continues to write stories, books, poems, and articles of encouragement. For links to her manuscripts and blogs, go to http://www.lindarondeau.com.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Week Fourteen: Carole McDonnell

Taking Back the Kingdom







“The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our
Lord.” Revelation 11:15 (NKJV)












What a lovely promise. What a wonderful hope. What a creative commission.


Many of the creative and musical arts had their start in religion. For eons, humanity has shown its spirituality by using art. People danced to their gods, sang his (or her) praises, acted out his exploits. The other arts were also linked to gods and goddesses as well. The art of Science flourished because people believed the gods had created a world that was comprehensible to the human mind. Doctors and healers trusted God to enlighten them about what plants created certain medicines. Lawyers, kings, and all kingdoms believed law, power, and wisdom came from one god or another and honored the god behind their particular creative or scientific kingdom. This continued into the 16th century, but when the ‘scientific revolution’ fully flowered, all these kingdoms lost their true King. In modern days the various disciplines of science and the many genres of art have fallen out of God’s hands. But the promise above is a living promise.


I write fantasy, psychological horror, science fiction, romance. All of these are genres which belong to the kingdoms of this world. Few SF writers are religious, let alone Christian. They worship humanity. Many fantasy writers kneel at the altar of Gaia. And nowadays, most of the healing power inherent in the arts come from sciences emptied of the spiritual. It is my hope that one day, the kingdoms of this world—specifically the artistic and creative kingdoms—will become entirely God’s. In the old days, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Vaughan, and even Shakespeare, all spoke unashamedly of God. Painting, sculpture, visual art, theatre, explored His virtues and praised His holy Name. Now the world wars against anything Christian in a work of art. The promise endures however that the victory and the kingdom will be God’s. And I shall be one of the soldiers in the vanguard in this particular spiritual war.


The Bible tells us that if the trumpet gives an uncertain call, who will rouse himself to battle?Although I feel the importance of the call, I have had moments when television, or other distractions pull me away from the battle. A handsome actor, an intriguing plot, a marathon of one’s favorite TV show. And yet, paradoxically, it is often television that drives me back into the fray. Who has not been insulted into action? Who has not heard some atheistic pundit snipe at the Bible and didn’t want to write the cable station a hastily-scribbled note? Who has not seen one too many psychotic pedophiliac priests, murderous judgmental abortion-clinic-bombing born-againer, or conversely, yet another glorified medium, psychic, Gaia-worshiping peace child?


Truly, the average Christian is often so insulted in TV fiction that each insult must be taken as a kind of call. For me, anyway to hear the insult or the snipe is enough to make me drop my remote and fly to my desk and my awaiting mouse and computer.
















Carole McDonnells essays, fiction, and poetry have appeared in many online and print venues. She writes ethnic, speculative, and religious writings. She lives in New Yorks Hudson Valley with her husband, two sons, and their pets. Her first novel, Wind Follower, is a multicultural Christian speculative fiction novel and was published by Juno Books in 2007. Her second novel is The Constant Tower." Her short story collection is entitled Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction by Carole McDonnell.



Sunday, January 05, 2014

Week Thirteen: Natalie Nyquist

Grace


And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians. 12: 9, 10 (NAS)


The moment we begin writing for our own self-promotion and advantage, we lose our opportunity for the greatest impact on the world. No matter how skillful a wordsmith we become, or how many high-paying book contracts we sign, our worth as a writer and influence as a communicator do not lie in anything within ourselves. Only in the power of God will our gifts truly shine.

If there is one truth to be shared with and embraced by Christian writers, it is that our articles and books do not belong to us at all: they are God’s alone from the first word to the concluding paragraph. Every time we grow distracted in “getting our name out,” in amassing royalties, and in creating a best-seller, our focus shifts off our Lord. When our eyes are not on Him, our hands holding our work open to His plans, we miss our chance for the greatest adventure in writing possible: being His tool to transform lives for eternity.

The passage in 2 Corinthians is a favorite of mine because it is an oft-needed reminder that we can glory even in our limitations and flaws. Not glory in ourselves, but in the power of God which will be displayed through those flaws. 

In my writing I strive to be transparent and let my readers see some of my struggles. This is, to me, just one of my sacrifices as God’s servant. It is a sacrifice I would prefer not to make. I would rather not tell anyone some of the things I have experienced. Some trials are personal and intimate and agonizing. They serve as a simple reminder to me of the truth that we will never be fully whole on this earth. We were never meant to be. So instead of seeking to prop up our own reputations and trumpet our strengths, why not try pouring out our lives for the sake of others? I challenge you to invest in something that will last on into the eternal place where we will be whole and healed and pure.

Without fail, God uses my meager talents to touch the most readers when I feel ineffective. In my weakness and finite vision, God displays His strength and does things in my heart and my readers’ hearts that I could never have imagined. When He is glorified instead of me, the impact of simple words can mark a lifetime.




Natalie Nyquist is a single mom working as a proofreader and editor while dialoguing on the intermix of beauty, grace, and suffering at www.pursuethebeauty.com