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Encouragement General In The News Writing craft

Getting Skunked

            Getting skunked means to be overwhelmingly defeated in a competition, such as “We got skunked, 72-10 in the basketball game.” 

            And then there’s the literal meaning.

            I had been prayerwalking for many years in my small town in the Sierra Valley that cold morning I headed out my front door and down Main Street—bundled up in gloves, coat, and hat that pre-dawn morning. I had forgotten my flashlight but wasn’t concerned when two doors down I heard rustling in the bushes to my right.

            Just birds.

            But soon I learned the rustling was not birds, but a skunk defending itself from an intrepid prayerwalker. My first clue was the back side of a raised white tail. My second clue came a moment later: an acrid, rotten egg odor surrounding me. 

            But I was still hopeful. Maybe it missed me. The skunk had quickly scooted behind the bushes.

            Undeterred, I continued down the street, praying for folks in homes and owners of the small businesses. The Hardware. White’s Sierra Service. Leonard’s grocery store. The Golden West Restaurant. 

            But after that quick half-mile walk from my western end of town to the eastern side, I pretty much could not stand myself any longer and did a quick jog home and straight to the washing machine. Three washes and a box of baking soda later, my clothes and shoes finally smelled fresh again. 

            That’s just one episode from my twenty-three years of prayerwalking—a spiritual exercise God led me to that turned into a ministry of praying for my town and its people. And despite some crazy animal antics along my path (raccoon, mountain lion, rattlesnake, and more!), I will continue to pray God blesses the people in my community and one-by-one transforms us all from the inside out. 

Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the bestselling book PrayerWalk (WaterBrook) and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus (Bethany House). The coordinator of the prayer ministries at The Bridge Church in Reno, she is also Sierra County coordinator for the National Day of Prayer. A writing coach, she hosts the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat several times in her home and may be reached through her website, https://www.janetmchenry.com.

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Encouragement General Inspiration for Writers Speaking

Start Your Morning Write

Today’s timely message of encouragement comes Linda Goldfarb–CAN member, author, speaker, coach and dear friend to many who shares from the heart on her morning practice of daily writing. Thank you, Linda!

I’ve written short term pieces daily for more than a decade. I began for my eyes only, as I’m a speaker who writes, you see. Until I chose to heed the Spirit to share my writings and now it seems I’ve started a fire of sorts. Not too hot for pre-believers, yet challenging, I hope, for those who have ears to hear. Here’s a taste. I pray its saltiness is to your liking or at least enough to whet your appetite for more.

How do you start your morning write?

Isolation. 

Solitude is my friend when I begin my morning write. 

A mechanical fire removes the chill. Be still. Be silent. Be light. 

Rise early. Remain alone. Breathe in the fullness of the Word.

Close your eyes. Yet do not slumber. Allow His presence to be heard.

Alone. Yet never lonely. The words are faithful to unfold.

A turn of my head. An ever-gentle nod. Reveals the story to be told.

Inspiration. 

Like flames leaping off the page. His words ignite my soul.

Alphabetical concepts. A spiritual lift. A consideration to behold.

Glimmers of hope. Glimpses of truth. A writer’s true North tis true.

Written in red to be remembered. Written via the Spirit for me and you.

Motivation. 

To persevere. To press on. To run the race and claim the ring for all to see.

Our God is Faithful. Our God is Merciful. In Truth He sets us free.

Walk this way. Beware the snare. You’ve got this my dear friend.

Take time for self. Use words that lift. Endure until the end.

Perspiration.

Now to send. Now to post. While sweat befriends my palms.

Received with joy? Received with doubt? Received as purposed alms? 

No turning back. Just breathing deep. My offering now displayed.

A speaker who writes. A servant who serves. Inside a little girl feels afraid.

Will there be hearts? Will there be shares? Will anyone notice the words I say?

No worries. No frets. Though my palms be they wet. I resume my morning write the next day.

Linda Goldfarb – Award-winning Author, Personality Thought Leader, Board-certified Christian Life Coach-helping you take your net best step. Check out Linda’s daily posts on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/linda.goldfarb also check out her podcast for writers on all podcasting platforms – Your Best Writing Life – and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/YourBestWritingLife

Categories
General Humor Inspiration for Writers

A CASE OF TOO MUCH CONCENTRATION

I’m the kind of writer who tends to be totally absorbed in what I’m working on as if on a cloud of inattentiveness to anything else. 

This can prove dangerous at times or outright funny. This was especially true when I lived alone in a small housing project while in Jacksonville, Florida. Since no harm was actually done, I laughed at the absurdity.

I had just settled in to tackle long overdue writing projects when the phone rang. My neighbor had called to give me a heads up.

“Got some bad news to tell you.”

I didn’t want to hear any bad news, but something told me I needed to. “Go ahead.”

“There’s been another break-in attempt.”

“On Mother’s Day?”

“Oh, yes. About 9:30 in the evening. On the other side of you.”

“Alvin and Lourdes’s house?”

“The rascals cut the wires underneath the meter box, disarming the alarm and power. Then they tried to break-in with a screwdriver. Both Alvin and Lourdes were home at the time.”

I shivered with the realization. Not only did the attempted robbery happen within a few feet of me, I had been totally unaware what was going on. Blissfully at my computer, I hadn’t noticed a thing—not even the police and the power company when they had reportedly arrived soon after.

We laughed over my ostrich lifestyle. My wonderful neighbor said if my house catches on fire, she’ll be sure to call me and let me know so I can get out. Then again, I have a bad habit of leaving my phone somewhere else than where I’m writing.

Glad I have a Lord who knows my weakness and keeps me safe from inattentiveness.

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Encouragement General Inspiration for Writers

A Season with a Different Harvest

I used to enjoy public speaking. I was thrilled when, during my senior year in high school, I was chosen to emcee our school Homecoming festivities. Although I must admit it wasn’t for a particularly good reason. According to Mrs. Monroe, who was my high school English teacher, my voice carried across the classroom. Even when I was trying not to be heard. Apparently, that made me a good choice for Homecoming emcee, because the sound system hadn’t yet been installed in our new high school gymnasium. Soon after that, I was emceeing at music festivals and churches across three states when our gospel group sang on weekends, and I was in my happy place.

Not surprisingly, one of my favorite classes in college was Oral Communications. I remember rehearsing the timing and inflection of every word of John Donne’s No Man Is an Island, which appears at the beginning of Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. With little prompting, I think I could recite those timeless verses today with almost the same intonation and rhythm.

But I couldn’t do that in front of an audience.

Somewhere between college graduation and the new Millennium, I lost my confidence for public speaking, something my first publisher found out when they set me in front of a video camera for a taped interview to promote my first book. I was shaking so badly, in body and voice, the tape was later deemed to be technically unstable. I still shudder when I think about that interview.

In the years since, I have wondered how my mass communication skills could have plummeted so far and without an inciting incident. Somehow, it just happened.

Or did it?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. Maybe I’m in a new season of life. A season with a different harvest. A season of writing and not of speaking. God knows that I still have a lot to say. And it is, perhaps, that pent-up need that now propels my words onto paper.

Three books after that fateful interview fail, the words are still coming, but on paper. I can now say that I’m a storyteller, a novel writer, a woman with a testimony. But I’m not a speaker, and that’s okay. The seasons have changed but there is still a harvest.

How has God changed you through the years? To what end has He changed your ‘purpose under heaven?’

Kathy Harris is an author by way of “divine detour” into the Nashville entertainment business where she works as a marketing director. For several years, she freelanced entertainer biographies and wrote, as well as ghost wrote, news stories and columns for various music publications. She sold her first Christian nonfiction story in 2007. Her debut novel released in 2021.

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Encouragement General Humor Inspiration for Writers

Finding a Balance That’s Just Right

Goldilocks had the right idea: neither extreme worked for her—she chose the one that was just right. 

The same is true of social and civic commitments. Too many commitments cause us anxiety and stress and result in poor performance in one or more areas of our lives. Often, that’s the area that affects our family. We might wish we could be a superwoman and do it all, but we can’t. 

Something will suffer—our health or our family’s well-being, a relationship with a friend, or maybe even our position at work. Saying yes too frequently can lead to anger and resentment, if that yes causes us unnecessary stress or makes us put our family in second place. 

Before giving an automatic yes to a request, we women need to learn to first say, “Let me pray about that decision.” Sometimes saying yes is the easy way to keep peace or get the job done. 

But at times, saying yes means robbing someone else of the blessing of taking on that role or responsibility.

We need to pray diligently, read God’s Word, and seek counsel from mentors, if necessary, before making a decision that might over-commit us. And to abide in his will, we just might have to learn to say no more often.

On the flip-side, too few commitments don’t benefit us, either. God commands us to serve others. Even if we’re busy with work and family, we need to seek a balance so that we can still find ways to bless and serve those around us in some manner. Volunteering at places like a women’s shelter, homeless shelter, fostering organization, our child’s classroom, or church takes our mind off the stresses in our lives and brings a peace that comes from obedience to God’s instructions. Helping others helps us even more. 

Be like Goldilocks (aside from the breaking and entering, of course) and find a balance that is “just right” for you. 

Julie Lavender is the author of 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories (Revell) and Children’s Bible Stories for Bedtime (Z Kids/Penguin Random House). She’s had seasons of balance, and seasons of chaos, but she’s happiest when she allows the God of peace to reign in her love, equipping her with everything GOOD for doing his will. The above story is an excerpt from Be Still and Take a Bubblebath, a devotional she co-wrote with Michelle Sauter Cox. 

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Encouragement General Humor Inspiration for Writers

First Impressions

Today’s Fascinating Friday insight comes to us from award-winning author Linda Rooks.

It was my first book to be published, and I was excited about flying to Colorado Springs to meet my publishers at their headquarters. 

Coming from Florida and having been warned of the possibility of a late spring snowstorm in Colorado, I carefully picked out my clothes for the trip to make the best impression, strategic about packing a separate suitcase for cold weather and snow.  But the next day when the plane arrived in Colorado, my suitcase with my cold weather gear was missing.

I awoke the next morning to find a blanket of freshly fallen snow outside my hotel window. Wanting to look my best, I donned my new suit, fussed with my hair, then pondered what to do about shoes. My boots were in the cold weather suitcase that had been lost, and all I had otherwise were the open toe shoes I wore in Florida. One with high heels, one with low. I decided to go with the low. 

When I arrived at my publishers, I was surprised at the long winding snow-covered walkway leading from the parking lot to the front entrance. I looked at my open-toe shoes and the distance to the front entrance and sighed. 

Nevertheless, raising my umbrella to protect my carefully coifed hairdo from the falling snow and blustery weather, I gingerly stepped onto the snowy path. My feet immediately sank into two inches of snow.

Halfway up the walkway, a gust of wind seized my umbrella and pulled it inside out. 

Mustering all the confidence that every new author should have, I continued slushing through two inches of snow in open-toe shoes, with my umbrella inside out and my button-less coat flapping back and forth in the wind. 

And there they were, watching from the front door and holding it open—all smiles— with a large banner behind, saying, “Welcome Author Linda W. Rooks.”

Yes, my publishers all had a good laugh at this Florida girl wearing open-toe shoes on the worst snow day of the year. My only consolation was that I had enough sense not to wear high heels. 

 Linda W. Rooks has a ministry of hope for those in broken marriages. Her award winning book, Fighting for Your Marriage while Separated, and her first book, Broken Heart on Hold, Surviving Separation walk with those in the midst of marital breakdown to bring hope and practical guidance to those desiring reconciliation. Linda writes for both adults and children, and her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family, HomeLife, and Today’s Christian Woman. Linda has participated in numerous radio and television interviews across the North American continent. She and her husband reside in Central Florida and thank God for the many reconciled marriages they witness through their ministry and the classes they lead.

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Encouragement General Inspiration for Writers

Collected

            The bear showed up again last night, and trash lay all over the driveway and front lawn. 

            Black bears start bulking up from midsummer through fall before they hibernate for the winter here in the Sierra Valley. It’s easier for them to forage through people’s dumpsters than through the forest that surrounds our mountain valley, so they wander from neighborhood to neighborhood looking for fridge castaways.

            Groaning, I began the gross and time-consuming task of collecting the litter. One more thing. It was one more thing on my cluttered to-do plate.

            After a four-day conference halfway across the country, I came home to a cluttered desk, writing deadlines, numerous Zoom meetings, and shopping and other prep for a four-day writing retreat I would host just a few days later.

            I felt as scattered as the trail of trash spread out in front of me. If I could only collect myself, I muttered as I picked up eggshell fragments and cans of Dinty Moore beef stew–my husband’s go-to meal when I’m gone.

            How would I get it all done? Why did I say yes to so many responsibilities? What was I possibly forgetting?

            Back inside a half hour later, I determined to clear my desk. After I filed away receipts, bills, and sticky note reminders, I saw what I had forgotten. My Bible sat there waiting for me to read that God collects scattered people (Jeremiah 28:25-26). He patiently allows me to blow away in the winds of struggle and hardship and even prideful too-much-to-do, so that I get to the place where I just cannot pull things together on my own. And then he gathers to himself those fragments of me that I have become, sets me securely in the place he has made for me, and gives me the security of his arms.

            And somehow he makes beauty out of a collection of litter.

Janet McHenry is an award-winning speaker and author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the best-selling PrayerWalk. A former high school English teacher, she and her husband Craig raised four children in the Sierra Valley, where he is a rancher. She would love to connect with you: https://www.janetmchenry.com.

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General Inspiration for Writers Writing craft

Asthma Treatments in History

In the process of writing Testing Tessa, I learned that asthma is not a recent affliction but has been around for thousands of years. First mentioned in Chinese records around 2600 B.C.,  the disease wasn’t given its current name until around 600 B.C. when Hippocrates linked the symptoms to environmental triggers. He recommended a concoction of owl’s blood and wine to alleviate symptoms, not recognizing that asthma was, in fact, a disease.

Through the years, other cultures attempted other treatments, including heating of herbs on a brick and then inhaling the fumes in 1500 B.C. Pliny the Elder, in 50 B.C., realized pollen was a contributing factor, and prescribed an early predecessor for epinephrine to alleviate breathing problems.

In the late 1800’s, Dr. Henry Salter tried various non-traditional remedies, including sleep; avoidance of opiates; hot, strong coffee; and the conservative use of belladonna. 

In 1892, Sir William Osler, noted the similarities between asthma and other allergic conditions, such as hay fever. As a result, doctors and pharmacies distributed medications to calm airway spasms. 

Once treating the symptoms was recognized as not solving the problem, researchers addressed the cause and long-term management, including strengthening the immune system, avoiding triggers, and enabling the body to repel the auto-immune reactions.

In my book, Tessa’s interest in medicine and her time of medical training in medical school and under the tutelage of a doctor propels her to read and study the latest innovations in medicine. 

About Testing Tess

In 1868, Tessa, a Mennonite nurse graduates from nursing school and is assigned to the Amana Colonies in Iowa because of her expertise in treating asthma and other breathing problems. Will she be able to use her skills? Or will her gender keep her from helping those who truly need her?

Seth, a widower in Amana, is still nursing a broken heart from his sweetheart’s passing two years before. Now raising their invalid son Caleb on his own, he wonders why God didn’t listen to his prayers for healing for his family. Can he trust God and trust medicine, or is faith in one mutually exclusive of faith in the other?  

Check out the book here: https://www.amazon.com/Testing-Tessa-Donna-Schlachter/dp/1943688761

About DonnaDonna lives in Denver with husband Patrick. As a hybrid author, she writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas and full-length novels. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, Sisters In Crime, Pikes Peak Writers, Capital Christian Writers Fellowship, Faith, Hope, and Love Christian Writers, and Christian Authors Network.

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General Inspiration for Writers

On Telephones & Stethoscopes

Did you ever play telephone with the tube inside paper towel rolls? You aren’t alone. The first stethoscope was nothing but a rolled-up piece of paper. In 1816 Dr. Rene Laennec wanted to listen to the sounds of his patient’s heart. Rather than place his ear on the person’s chest, he improvised. It worked! He coined the name stethoscope and called the process auscultation. About twenty-five years later, Dr. Camman added earpieces so he could use both ears. 

Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

Cynthia L Simmons and her husband have five grown children and reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former homeschool mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts magazine. She has written homeschool curriculum, Bible studies, and a series of historical fiction novels. Presently she serves as president of Christian Authors Guild, gives workshops on writing and parenting, and coaches writers. She is fond of history and hosts Heart of the Matter Radio and #Momlife chats to offer women the elegance of God’s wisdom.

Cynthia L Simmons

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General Humor Inspiration for Writers

God’s Humor Is Pretty Fascinating

I’m always fascinated when I read the Bible and identify God’s humor. That’s what happened when I was writing God’s Intriguing Questions: 40 Old Testament Devotions Revealing God’s Nature (co-written with my husband, Larry). Our book examines the questions God asks in the Bible. His questions are fascinating because He asks as if He doesn’t know the answers. But of course, He does and that’s what makes it humorous. He knows everything and asks questions to make people think and examine their motives and comprehension.

The book of Job is filled with God asking questions. They are fascinating because many of them are asked with humorous tongue-in-cheek. After God allowed Job to vent his frustration, He pointed things out in His created universe that are pretty outrageous. In Job 38:4, God says to Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?”

It would be easy to picture God as a vindictive, sarcastic, and mean-spirited being because of this wording. But knowing God as a lovingly-purposed God gives us confidence He responds to us in only redemptive and loving ways—even when He’s using humorous, huge contrasts to point out His outrageous obvious deeds—and our lack of power. He’s saying, “Have you forgotten the beyond-comprehension things I’ve done and how it contrasts with you? You can trust in Me. If I can lay the foundation of the earth, I’m in charge. But let me know where you were at the time. Maybe I didn’t see you.”

Thankfully, Job responds with humility after God compares Job’s abilities to God’s incredible works. I don’t have any trouble imaging God’s huge smile as He’s asking His question. He smiles at us also when we understand how He is reaching out to us.

Kathy Collard Miller is the author of over 55 books and a thousand blog posts and articles. She has spoken in 9 foreign countries and over 30 US States. Her books include women’s Bible studies, devotions, Christian living topics, and commentaries. She and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. www.KathyCollardMiller.com