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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.

Categories
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
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. 

Categories
Encouragement Writing craft

Finding God at the Spelling Bee

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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.”

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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.