Friday, September 28, 2012

A Vintage Gift


Read Matthew 17: 14-20



Matthew 14:20 “…I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Working on the sequel to TRAPPED has been a painstaking experience. I knew something was wrong and began to doubt my ability as a writer and whether my passion to write was truly God’s “call.”

I’ve been down on my knees so much I’ve formed tough calluses. Day after day, word after word, scene after scene, prayer after prayer…doubt after doubt. What was wrong? I prayed for God to give me the strength and the words to finish the book to His glory. Yet the plot kept going nowhere.

After a very tearful talk with God, I walked away from writing for three days.

But I couldn’t stay away. God kept sending little messages of encouragement.  One was a package in my mailbox from one of my writing friends. She had no idea of the struggle I’d been under, but she’d reached out to me with a very big message from God. Inside the package were two vintage 1960’s era mustard seed globe necklaces. She’d purchased them in the 80’s from a consignment shop because she always liked the idea of having a mustard seed of hope and faith. But she hadn’t worn them in over twenty years and wanted me to have them with the hope they would bring me some positive feeling. I was moved beyond words and in awe of God’s majesty.

My tagline is “Happily ever afters with a spark of romance, a shadow of suspense, and a mustard seed of faith.” These necklaces made me think about what the mustard seed of faith meant.  I believe it was God speaking in a loud, clear voice that he’d called me to share messages of hope and faith through the written word.

I went back to my plot and weak obstacles and suddenly saw the problem. I had included a character who made it impossible to form obstacles to my hero reaching his goal. He’s now back story.
I love the story of the mustard seed from the book of Matthew. And it means even more now as the scripture was revealed through God’s directing a gift to me through a friend.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Help us to remain faithful to the work you have called us to do. Instill in us the courage to move mountains with a mustard seed of faith. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Monday, September 24, 2012

52 Writing Tips For New Writers, Part 4

About The Video Presenter 
Alyice Edrich is a freelance writer specializing in helping new writers succeed—on the web. Visit her athttp://thedabblingmum.com for free writing tips on how you can succeed in the publishing world, today. 





Friday, September 21, 2012

Toning Spiritual Muscles

 
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." I Corinthians 6:19-20
 
I remember a time when I was dedicated to exercising after work in the comfort of my family room. My favorite work-out video was "Sweatin' to the Oldies." The music was upbeat, Richard Simmons was fun, and the people exercising with him were normal people of every size and shape.
 
I always rested afterward while reading on the screen how much weight each person on the video had lost. So inspiring! One night my youngest daughter, then a teen-ager, slipped into the room and sat on the sofa beside me. She looked at me and grinned. "Wow, Mom, look at you. Your jeans are falling off and you look great...but these people look the same. They haven't changed at all." Yeah, she was always good for a laugh...still is.
 
But as I think back, I'm reminded how true this is in our spiritual lives as well.
 
There was time when I just went through the motions. I believed in God, talked a good talk, but I didn't walk the walk. I even stopped attending church for a while. Just like I stopped exercising. My to-do lists were long. Life demaded my time. And I became just like the video...suspended in time...unchanging.
 
God is faithful, though. He pursued me until I ran back into His arms. I joined a Church. I volunteered when God called me. Suddenly the verses in the Bible began to speak to me. Prayer became a constant in my life, and God became my very best friend, the One I could talk to all day long. He reaffirms His love constantly and blesses me abundantly.
 
My spiritual muscles are being toned each and every day. I am changing on the inside, in my heart, in my soul.
 
Oh, and that favorite workout video? I pulled it out the other day. I'm exercising again and having fun "Sweatin' to the Oldies." The video hasn't changed, but I have. God is good!
 
Dear Father, Thank you for never giving up on us. Amen.

 
 

Monday, September 17, 2012

52 Writing Tips For New Writers, Part 3


About The Video Presenter:

 Alyice Edrich is a freelance writer 

specializing in helping new writers 

succeed—on the web. Visit her at

http://thedabblingmum.com for free 

writing tips on how you can succeed in the 

publishing world, today. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Crafting with Jesus

Matthew 18:20 (NIV) "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Angel Wing Prayer Shawl I crocheted.
A year ago our Church formed a Prayer Shawl Ministry Group. We meet once a month on Saturday at the Church where we share a meal together and spend two hours knitting, and crocheting.

During our time together, we sit in a circle around tables and conversation and laughter flows freely.

I'm reminded of the quilting groups my mother took me to when I was a young girl where I learned to hand stitch quilts while listening to the laughter and chatter of my mother's friends and family.



Sweater my daughter knitted for me
My own love for needlework must have been born during those years. I taught my oldest daughter how to knit and crochet when she was a young girl and she has taken that to a much higher level than I could ever have imagined. She's the expert and now teaches me.

Life is a circle. A circle of love. Our group is blessed by the thank you cards from those who receive our shawls. Their testimonies of feeling the comfort of so many prayers is our blessing.

Dear Lord, thank you for the gifts you've given us. Let us use those to bless others so that we may be blessed in return. Thank you for being in our midst when we gather in Your Name.  Amen.

Monday, September 10, 2012

52 Writing Tips For New Writers, Part 2

About The Video Presenter:

Alyice Edrich is a freelance writer

specializing in helping new writers succeed

on the web. Visit her at

http://thedabblingmum.com for free writing

tips on how you can succeed in the 

publishing world, today. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

For Such a Time As This


Esther 4:14 “ . . . And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

Since leaving my full-time day job, I’ve become a full-time caregiver to my hubby who has COPD, Emphysema, and a diseased heart. As such, I do all the driving. Yesterday he wanted to get a haircut and I was frantically trying to meet my  writing goal for the month. Thankfully, my laptop was fully powered, so off we went.

While we were getting hubby’s oxygen tank from the back seat, another vehicle parked beside us. The woman got out of the van and we tried to make room for her to get around us.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “Take your time. I can walk in front of your car.” With a sweet smile she did so.

Hubby headed off to the barber chair and I opened my laptop. I never thought again about the nice lady until . . .

After a productive writing session, hubby returned. I stepped out of the car and immediately noticed a bank card lying on the ground. The owner’s name was Elizabeth.

Whoever Elizabeth was, she would be frantic when she noticed her card missing. Returning it to the bank would get it back to her, but what if it belonged to the nice lady from the van? What were the odds?

I decided to try. My first stop was the optical store next to the barber shop. As I approached, I knew God was in control because the woman I sought was inside helping a customer. She worked there. God’s hand all the way.

I went inside and asked if she was the woman who’d parked her van next to us. She said yes. I asked if her name was Elizabeth. Now she looked a little nervous but said yes.

When I handed her the card, her relief and surprise showed in her expression. After thanking me over and over, she said, “I just did something good for this woman (indicating the woman she’d been helping) and now it has been paid forward!”

I have no doubt this entire trip was orchestrated by God. It had seemed a minor inconvenience in my “planned” day, but it turned out to be a major blessing. God places us in positions to be angels on earth. Just like Esther was destined to become a Queen “for such a time as this.”

PRAYER: “Dear God, thank you for bringing us into places and situations where we can be your hands and feet, for we know that through blessing others we receive our greatest blessings. Amen.”

 Have you had a similar experience?  How have you been “paying it forward?”
 
 

Monday, September 3, 2012

LET ‘EM TALK

LET ‘EM TALK
Guest post by: Peggy Bennitt

Dialogue can be one of the most difficult challenges for a writer, but it is also one of the most important components of a great story. Writers can tell a reader all about the characters and let us ‘listen in’ on the thoughts and impressions that characters have of each other and of their surroundings. But until those characters speak, until they are each given a voice, no one really gets to know them.

Our job as writers is to introduce and then encourage characters to conversations. Dialogue is how we get to know people in the real world, and since our stories are just fictionalized reality, dialogue is essential conversation with purpose. Relationships are built through conversations and interactions. Dialogue is conversation in a story and it is the relational glue that makes readers ‘stick’ with the story and invest themselves in the people there.

You may already be saying, “Yikes! I just want to tell a story.” But in reality, writers want our characters to tell their own stories. Through their dialogue, characters ‘show and tell’ the reader about their lives. Their dialogue not only builds relationship with the other characters, it builds that all important relationship with the reader.

So how do we as writers do that? How do we craft dialogue that moves the story forward and builds relationships between characters and readers alike? Writing good dialogue is a challenge, but once we get the hang of it, we just may find it difficult to shut them up. Here are a few tips on how to Let ‘Em Talk:

¨ Before we even turn our computers on, we need to give “the work of our hands” to our Lord. Before we ever put pen to paper, we need to give ourselves and our writing up to His plans. The gift of words He has given us is for His glory. Trust Him with it as you begin each day.

¨ Build a brief history of each character. Even if it’s just one line, or a short paragraph. Keep it in a file on your computer or in a notebook for easy reference as you write. This gives a reason for him or her to be in the first place. If the character is necessary to move the story forward, then it’s necessary to have an interview, a dialogue, to find out what motivates her or what has happened in his past. Ask questions and listen to the voice that responds. Listen for the accent or the dialect that is intrinsic to each character. Jot down quirks or habits that appear as she speaks or as he drinks his coffee.

¨ It may sound strange to suggest interviews with characters, but posing questions and allowing each character to answer, in his own voice, will help ‘hear’ each particular ‘voice’ and learn the speech patterns. As they ‘talk,’ get in touch with what motivates or fuels each characters’ actions, facial expressions, and visualize the nuances that make each an individual.

¨ It may help at first to write the dialogue between characters as a screenplay, even include props and entrance and exit instructions, such as ‘stage left.’ This may help to visualize the scene, stimulate dialogue, and give a reference point for scenery and props.

In one of my Creative Writing classes in college, the instructor had us first write poetry to help us condense work usage to a potent minimum, and accustom us to hearing the rhythm of the words. Then we had to write at least one scene as a play to force characters to interact and talk more naturally. When writing a play, the dialogue is the storytelling vehicle, so each character’s words have to be purposefully constructed to advance the story and build the character relationships. That experience was an eye-opener for me. I use both techniques still to help me add dimension to my characters.

¨ Listen to people of varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds and observe their actions and facial expressions as they interact. Malls, schools, and workplaces are just a few great places to observe and listen to people. Watch their actions as they speak, but more importantly for dialogue’s sake, listen to the give-and-take involved in the various conversations. Do two people finish one another’s sentences? Do they interrupt each other? Do they use several different languages in their speech? Does a person use proper English or slang? Are there cultural dialects being used? Be an observer. Develop a sharp ear for the nuances of speech all around you. This will help you hear your own characters better as you write.

¨ Now, take a look at your characters. Can you hear them as you write? Do you hear each voice? Let ‘em talk without censoring them. Save censure for the second draft. By letting characters blather on, you just might gain valuable insights into what makes them tick. You may even have unplanned characters wander into the story and introduce themselves. Be ready to make them feel welcome if they have something important to add. But don’t be afraid to ‘show them the door’ if they’re not going to contribute to the story.

Crafting great dialogue is an intricate part of the art of writing. No one knows them better than you, the writer. But if they can’t have their say, no one else will ever know them for who they really are. If we want our characters to live, we have to let ‘em talk.

Peggy Bennitt is a Christian writer and a degreed Family Life Educator (FLE). She has written book reviews for a local newspaper and a family advice column called, Ask Aunt Peg, for a local Family Magazine. She is currently the editor of her church’s newsletter and volunteers in various ministry areas there. She has held a variety of jobs that have given her eclectic background material for her writing, and currently has a novel-in-process.

Living in the country with her accountant husband and a bevy of houseplants is one of the great joys in her life. She also has three grown children and three wonderful grandchildren, making her life very close to perfect. Her favorite pastimes are reading, writing, and sewing, with a little gardening and cooking thrown into the mix. Being a wife, mother, and grandma has given her the best possible experience for writing. She says, “Family life is an education all by itself.”

The Bible verse that has had the most impact on her life is Psalm 118:24—This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.