Categories
Encouragement Writing craft

Finding God at the Spelling Bee

JulieLavenderheadshot2.jpg
Julie Lavender

Most of my newspaper bylines result from faith-based stories that I locate on my own. I enjoy sharing God-stories in the newspaper.

As a newspaper stringer, however, I often have the opportunity to cover news-related stories, and I can honestly say I enjoy most of those stories, too. Some are a bit of a yawner, though, and three-and-a-half hours of spelling words fell in that category when I covered a school district contest a couple of years ago. Towards the end, two young brilliant boys went back and forth for thirty-five rounds before Elikem Gato stumbled on the word “mukhtar,” and Eric Lim was declared the winner. 

Oh, dear – Elikem’s back, I mumbled quietly when I entered the auditorium to cover another spelling contest. This could go on forever.

I was lulled into amazement at the kids’ performance, just like last time, with the first pronunciation. 

When “folksiness” tripped up seventh-grader Nicholas Cortes, Elikem Gato correctly spelled “beneath” and “flail” to become the spelling bee champion. 

Gathering my journalist’s paraphernalia, I made my way to the winner. I snapped the obligatory trophy shot with his school principal and grabbed cute shots with his family, too. Both parents and two brothers congratulated Elikem and beamed with pride. 

All I need is a couple of quotes from the champion, and I’m outta here.

 “How did you prepare for the spelling bee, Elikem?

“I study a lot with my brothers – in the car, after school, at home. We call out words to each other. We grew up memorizing Bible verses at home, so memorizing words comes a lot easier for us.”

Elikem Gato with parents.JPG
Elikem Gato with his parents–and the championship trophy.

I paused from my writing and made eye contact with the youngster. His dad, a college professor, added in his beautiful Ghana-cadence, “We try to train our kids to live out their faith, to let the them know the importance of knowing Jesus and trying to live for him as best as God can help us.”

My grin widened almost as much as the trophy-holding champion’s, and I chatted with the family until the maintenance guy turned off the lights in the auditorium as a not-so-subtle hint.

I had my God-story for the newspaper after all, about a champion of words and the Word, and I couldn’t wait to get home to write the article.

Thank you, God, for reminding me that you’re with me in everything I write. Even when I don’t expect to find you there! 

BIO: Julie Lavender, author of 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories (Revell), loves finding God in the little stories and the big stories with each newspaper article she pens. Author, journalist, and former homeschooling mom, Julie is a wife, mother of four, and grandmommy of one.

Categories
Encouragement Humor

On Reading

C. Kevin Thompson
C. Kevin Thompson

Reading—and the love for it—is not a genetic trait. Parents who read wish it was. However, reading is developed as a love, a passion, or it is shunned just like any other activity. Find me a person who loves to read, and I can find that person’s antithesis who would rather wait for the movie or TV show to come out.

Or just play video games instead. (Maybe “evil twin” is a more apropos term for this character…Just kidding!)

Case in point. I’m a writer. I have three daughters. Two of them like to read. One hates it and does it out of necessity, not enjoyment. All three grew up in the same house, had the same parents—one of them an author in the children’s later years.

The other day, I was at the home of the one who isn’t a reader. She proudly showed me her new bookshelf in their new office area of their new home. On the top shelf sat a copy of all my books, save two (one of them a reprint copy, so we won’t hold that against her). She thought she had them all.

The Letters

She talked about how she recommends them, although she’s never read all of them. She says it with a smile. We understand each other, although I know reading would enhance her life in ways she has yet to experience.

She’s proud of her daddy, and that means a lot. She supports me—her father, the author—whenever she can. But no matter what the book, even my latest novel (and she has read it, by the way, albeit the first pre-publication manuscript), my daughter still smiles and make no bones about her unwillingness to read, even though The Letters was just nominated as a finalist for a prestigious award and came in Second Place is another prestigious award.

Would I love her more if she did read all of them? No. Of course not.

We’d just have more to talk about, that’s all.

 

Kevin Thompson is a former English teacher who believed that if he was going to teach students about writing, he should put his money where his mouth was. Since that time, he has written three award-winning novels and serves now as an assistant principal at a public high school.

Website:                                  www.ckevinthompson.com/

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:           www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com/

Facebook:                               C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page

Twitter:                                   @CKevinThompson

Instagram:                               ckevinthompson

Pinterest:                                 ckevinthompsonauthor

ACFW Fiction Finder:           https://www.fictionfinder.com/author/detail/595

BookBub:                                C. Kevin Thompson

 

 

 

Categories
Encouragement Humor Marketing Writing Business

Mistaken Identity, Grateful Heart

Thank you to CAN member and contributor Michelle Medlock Adams for today’s edition of Fascinating Fridays!

I had just finished signing my latest children’s book at the Guideposts Booth at the largest Christian Book Show. To celebrate my signing, my mom and my sister took me to lunch at a beautiful restaurant in downtown Atlanta. As we studied the menu, I couldn’t help but notice a group of women sitting at a nearby table. You know why I noticed them? Because they were all staring at me.

I tried to ignore them, but their staring turned to pointing and whispering. I started feeling a little self-conscious. Just as the waitress brought our food, I watched as one of the ladies slowly walked toward our table.

“I’m sorry to interrupt,” she said, “but I just had to meet you. Your book literally changed my life.”

Categories
Encouragement Inspiration for Writers

Why I Wrote the Book I Never Wanted to Write

Ginny Dent Brant, Author
Ginny Dent Brant

Today we welcome CAN member and author Ginny Dent Brant as she shares the story behind her inspirational book detailing her healing journey.

Hearing the words, “You have cancer,” was a shock to this health nut. When I saw my real life MRI flashed up on a screen, it looked like a tornado had invaded my body. Bewildered with disbelief, I asked to meet with a chaplain.

The first words from my mouth, “How could a health nut like me end up with an aggressive and deadly cancer like this?”

“Ginny, consider it a gift from God,” encouraged Pastor Sewell.  “Sometimes God allows things in your life for you to help others. As an author and speaker. your experience in this journey can be a guiding light to others.”

“Never.” I insisted. “I’d never write about cancer. It’s the gift I never wanted.” I was praying desperately this cancerous thorn (tornado) would be taken from me.

“Yes, I can see it now, your next book with this inscription—‘It was the book I never wanted to write.’” He chuckled. “In time you will see the hand of God. I promise.”

My diagnosis and that tornado sent me on a quest to discover what caused my cancer and what I could do to help my doctors to beat it. As I began to connect the dots between nutrition, the immune system, conventional and integrative medicine, medical research, and the Word of God, I was able to pull back the curtain on cancer for me. The more I learned, the more I felt led to share my findings with others to help them prevent and survive cancer.

Unleash Your God-Given Healing by Ginny Dent Brant
Unleash Your God-Given Healing by Ginny Dent Brant

Pastor Sewell was right. These words appear on the first page of Unleash Your God-Given Healing: “This is the book I never wanted to write.”

And that tornado that invaded my body became my book’s analogy to The Wizard of Oz.

 

Ginny Dent Brant is a counselor, educator, speaker, and wellness advocate. Her recent book, “Unleash Your God-Given Healing: Eight Steps to Prevent and Survive Cancer,” contains commentary from an oncologist. It won a Golden Scrolls Award and was featured on CBN News. Cancer prevention and wellness blog at www.ginnybrant.com  https://www.facebook.com/ginny.d.brant/

 

Categories
Encouragement Inspiration for Writers Writing craft

Why I Wrote Love Stays True

Letter to SallieWhen my dad began going through papers and documents in his files, He found three letters he gave to me because he knew I was writing a historical novel series. One of the letters was dated 1857 and was addressed to my great-grandmother Sallie from her father. Another one was dated November, 1864 and was written by my great-grandfather to Sallie before he went into the battle at Nashville and was captured. The third was to Sallie from a friend talking about the war.

I treasured those letters and tucked the away to a safe place because I knew I would be using the information in my writing someway. After my father’s death, I found more information written by my great-grandfather telling about parts of his trip home after the surrender by Lee. The story burned in my heart and a series set at the end of the war and forward was born.

I did a tremendous amount of research to match what I had in my possession with history and ended up with a five book series, The Homeward Journey, based on what I found. My husband and I even traveled to Louisiana and Mississippi to visit the places mentioned in the letters and checked dates and times in the records there.

The first book was Love Stays True, a love story based on my great-grandparents love in the 1860’s. It’s a combination of truth and fiction based on the letters and stories I heard from my grandfather. It begins at the time of the Armistice and follows my great-grandfather’s journey from prison at Point Lookout, Maryland back to Louisiana where he married his sweetheart, Sally. That book led to three others to complete the four book series.

 

Martha Rogers
Martha Rogers

Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and multi-published best-selling author.  She is a member of ACFW and writes the weekly Verse of the Week for the ACFW Loop. She is a retired English and Home Ec. teacher and lives in Houston with her husband of 61 years, Rex.

 

Categories
Encouragement Inspiration for Writers Writing craft

Why I Write Happily Ever After Endings

Anne Greene, Author
Anne Greene

I’ve experienced God’s happily-ever-afters in my life many times since I became a Christian at age twenty-one. I suffered a difficult childhood. When the Lord made me a new creation in Christ Jesus, He began my emotional healing that transformed me into the happy, content person I am today.

Again, when my first husband died early in our marriage leaving me with almost no money and two young children, I learned first-hand the Lord does take care of His children. When the first love of my life died, I felt physically torn in half. I often looked down at my body to see if I was bleeding. But God became my constant companion and took my torn halves and knit them back together. He gave me the verse, Deuteronomy 31:6—The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you: He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. He kept His promise. At the right time He brought a new forever love, a new husband into my life. Through that experience I know without a single doubt that I have complete freedom to trust God. He loves to make His children happy.

Now, when God takes me out of my comfort zone and walks with me through difficulties, I can look back on His faithfulness and set my trust in Him.

Knowing God is in charge and He truly cares allows me to write happy-ever-after endings to all my books.

ANNE GREENE delights in writing about alpha heroes who aren’t afraid to fall on their knees in prayer, and about gutsy heroines.  Anne hopes her books transport the reader to awesome new worlds and touch hearts to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. Read More about Anne at www.AnneGreeneAuthor.com.

 

 

Categories
Encouragement

Yes Isn’t Always the Best Answer

In my early working career, I liked my job in administration at a new hospital, but a big brand new company moved to town. They had an opening for a human resources director, and I interviewed. The vice president said his boss’s daughter applied, and it was between the two of us. In the meantime, other jobs came available, and I applied for those. The interviews were positive, and I was sure I would be hired for one of them.

I had prayed about this change, and I didn’t understand when I wasn’t chosen for any of them. Why had I been called back for second interviews and not one of them panned out? What was God trying to teach me?

A prominent doctor came to my office, and he told me his neighbor was the vice president who had interviewed me. He said the man wanted to hire me, but his boss made him hire his daughter. This doctor asked me not to leave. I was upset the doctor found out.

Then the chief operating officer told me he was the other neighbor to this vice president. He asked why I was leaving. He also wanted me to stay. I did stay, and the raises and opportunities were good. A year later, the big company I’d been to for interviews didn’t succeed, and a large number of employees were let go, including the vice president of human resources!

The lesson I learned was that the grass wasn’t greener on the other side, and I should appreciate the plans the Lord had for me right where I was working. He already knew this would happen. I thanked the Lord for taking care of me—and telling me no.

Are you struggling to understand why the Lord has told you no? We may not know right away why God says no to a request, but we can rest assured God has our best interest at heart.

Molly Jebber writes Amish historical romance. Her award-winning books have made Publisher’s Weekly Best Ten List, live interviews on news sites, and received near excellent ratings from RT, and featured in USA HEA. She’s a national speaker for Women’s Christian Connection and guest lecturer at Ohio State University, libraries and conferences on writing, publishing, and marketing. She loves God, her family, and friends.

 

 

Categories
Encouragement

As Seasons Change

Watching the summer season come to an end, and autumn follow, reminded me once again that God is in control. He is the one who sends the rain, the snow, and the sunshine. He directs the clouds and the wind and determines the temperature. Though people may try to predict the weather based on meteorological patterns, they cannot control it. Only God can.

God is a God of order. Since the beginning of time, God established day and night and seasons. He made the moon to mark the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down (Psalm 104:19).   Every day, every week, every month, every year the order of nature is consistent. Just as nature is consistent, so is our God. His love and care for us remain the same.

God is faithful. Just as we can depend on daylight and darkness, we can depend on God. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is always with us to guide and protect us. We can trust that He will do what He says in His Word.

Knowing this gives us peace and frees us from worry and fear that exist in an ever-changing chaotic world. As we savor the days of autumn, let’s give thanks to a faithful God whose love for us will last forever.

I am the LORD, and I do not change (Malachi 3:6 NLT).

 

Author, Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman is a best-selling, award-winning author of more than 100 books for children and adults. She is a lyricist for children’s piano music, contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine, and presenter at writers’ conferences. Her latest picture book addresses the topic of dementia: I Love You to the Stars—When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembers.

Crystal’s Facebook Page

Crystal’s LinkedIn Profile

 

Categories
Encouragement

A Wheel Secret

 

The secret things belong to the Lord our God… (Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV).

The oddly-fashioned wheel bug is a type of assassin bug. An assassin bug preys upon and attacks a wide variety of insects and other arthropods in a rather gruesome manner, using its front legs and proboscis. The bug injects the critter-turned-lunch with enzymes that not only paralyze it but also dissolve the life-giving organs. The wheel bug then slurps up the liquefied insides. Yum, right? Uh, not hardly! Kinda icky, actually! Yet, the true bug is considered beneficial because it preys on pest insects.

The wheel bug gets its name from the crest on top of the thorax, shaped like a wheel. Interestingly, though, biologists don’t seem to know just exactly why the cog-shape is part of the bug’s anatomy. The wheel bug is the only insect in the United States with such a crest, but no consensus on the crest’s purpose exists.

That aspect of the wheel bug makes me smile and appreciate God’s creativity even more. Did God give it a wheel just to make us ponder? Does it have a purpose that God’s kept secret all this time? Did He like the idea of pointed, teeth-like knobs protruding from the top of the bug?

I love the lessons God teaches me through His creations, but I’m also okay with not knowing things. I think there’s much He wants us to know, but I believe there are some things we won’t know this side of heaven.

And maybe a wheel-shaped crest on top of a bug happens to be one of those unknowns!

Julie Lavender used to be afraid of most insects and creepy-crawly things until she fell for that cute high-school boy who loved all of God’s creations, the one who eventually became an entomologist for the US Navy. Most bugs and critters still terrify her, but now she appreciates their beauty and purposes in the natural world and is quite fascinated by them! She is the author of the newly-released 365 Ways To Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments Into Lasting Memories.

 

Categories
Encouragement Ministry

Compassion Fatigue

Compassion Fatigue By Janet Holm McHenry

compassion fatigue is real
Compassion fatigue is real.

The Lord is a refuge to his people. –Joel 3:16 (ESV)

From a recent training for local teachers on social-emotional learning I learned a new term: compassion fatigue.
As teachers have doubled up duties to teach both in an in-person setting and in a distance learning model, they have also encountered countless cases of students and parents and peers in emotional distress, while also trying to manage their own families’ needs and their own.

Compassion fatigue is real. I have experienced this often over the last 22 years as I’ve prayer-walked the streets of my community and been a pivot point for various prayer groups. Their burdens become mine—and sometimes I simply feel overwhelmed.

When tremendous needs from many I love recently came from several directions, I found myself on the couch, exhausted one day. “What’s wrong with me?” I asked my husband.

“You’re taking on too much,” he quickly answered. And my husband is almost never quick to answer.

I imagine the prophets felt this compassion fatigue. God called them to speak his words to the people, who had strayed from following the Lord and who would not listen to the warnings God spoke through the prophets.
What must have kept them going was God’s call on their lives, as well as his words to them.

Reading the Bible daily is also what keeps me going during this challenging season. It also keeps me praying for many right now suffering from loss of loved ones, fires, floods, illness, straying children, unemployment, and depression.
Daily I run to the place where my compassion fatigue is always lifted: God’s Word. He never disappoints.

About the author: Janet McHenry is a speaker and author of 24 books—six of those on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. She would love to connect with you: https://www.janetmchenry.com.