Categories
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.

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 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.

Categories
Encouragement

A Creative Challenge

Jeanne Dennis
Jeanne Dennis, host of Heritage of Truth TV

A Creative Challenge: Try Something New

By Jeanne Dennis

Life for me has been changing rapidly. After 11 years of part-time caregiving and the deaths of several family members and friends, I’m finally coming up for air. I’m able to enjoy writing, art, cooking, and music again.

One writing project especially challenges and excites me. My dad used to journal often and made me promise to do something with his musings. He died three years ago, but his journals and notes had been missing for five years, ever since my sister died. We thought they had been discarded accidentally with some of her papers.

What joy it gave us to find them in an old file cabinet a few months ago! Now I plan to sort through his writings and “do something” with them, probably in the form of a memoir about Dad’s and Mom’s lives. When Mom told others their story, people always said, “You should write a book.” So perhaps I’ll do it in her stead.

In the past month, I’ve also tried my hand at urban sketching. Drawing buildings and bustling street life has never appealed to me before, but I’ve found it enjoyable. Scribbles done the right way can look amazingly similar to people, cars, and architecture.

Though I’ve always enjoyed cooking, I’ve recently faced new challenges in the kitchen. Last fall I discovered I have gluten and other food sensitivities. Tragically, my favorite homemade whole-wheat sourdough bread had to go. Now I’m learning to cook with vegetables, fruits, and proteins with little to no grains. It has stretched my creativity and our food budget, but we’re feeling healthier and I was able to lose weight for the first time in many years. I also make my own dark chocolate–yum!

Finally, I’m writing music again and working on a Christmas album, which will be my third album.

Can I challenge you to make the most of your summer and try something new, fun, and creative? Don’t get frustrated if you don’t succeed at first. Half the joy in accomplishment comes from the journey it takes to get there. So enjoy the creative journey!

Jeanne Gowen Dennis hosts Heritage of Truth TV http://heritageoftruth.com, is a commissioned Colson Fellow and Centurion, and is a multi-award winning author of a dozen books. For over twenty years, she has been helping families understand, live out, and pass on biblical heritage through her writing, speaking, teaching, original music, and online ministries. She and her husband of over 40 years serve actively in their local church and enjoy spending time with their family, including three amazing grandchildren.

Categories
Devotional

Advent Family Project You’ll Love

Kathy Collard Miller
Kathy Collard Miller

Hello from Kathy Collard Miller in the Southern California desert near Palm Springs where it’s finally cooling down. I’m looking forward to our “winter” that is never a winter wonderland, but still wonderful.

Years ago I created an Advent family activity I called, “Box of Blessings.” It helped our family’s thoughts focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Here are the directions to create it.

Wrap a large box with Christmas paper, wrapping the lid separate. Gather 24 visual aids, wrap each one individually, write out tags for each with an object lesson, Scripture and discussion question. (On each tag, write a number indicating the order it should be opened). Place the gifts in the box.

On December 1, open the large gift-wrapped box containing 24 small wrapped gifts, and read the enclosed tag: “Today we are beginning a Christmas project. We will open a different present for the next 24 days to help remind us of God’s most precious gift His Son Jesus.”

Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing for your own “Box of Blessings.” If you’d like to receive a full list of the 24 visual aids along with the object lesson, Scripture, and discussion question, reply to this email or email KathyCollardMiller@gmail.com and write “Box of Blessings” in the subject line. I’d love to send it to you.

Gift: Several pieces of any kind of food. READ: Does food always stay the same even after a long time? No, it changes when it gets old, doesn’t it? But Jesus never changes; He is always the same. (Hebrews 13:8) Why do you think it is important that Jesus never changes?

Gift: A heartshaped object. READ: Hearts remind us of love. We love others, but did you know that God loves us even more? (I Corinthians 13:47) How many things about love can we find in these verses?

Categories
Writing Business

Transform

Bob Hostetler
Bob Hostetler

Bob Hostetler here, offering another prayer for writers:

Lord Jesus,
you turned a meager lunch into a banquet for thousands,
a common lake trout into an ATM,
a brash fisherman into a water-walker,
a skeptical Thomas into a staunch devotee,
and a grisly death into death’s defeat.

Please turn my faulty thoughts and flailing words into something worth reading.
Amen.

Categories
Inspiration for Writers Writing craft

Are You a Scribe of the Kingdom?

"DEFessenden_Headshot"Hi, writers! Dave Fessenden here to ask you a question: Are you a scribe of the Kingdom?

Tucked away in the last chapter of Romans is a seemingly obscure verse: “I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord” (16:22).

Tertius was a scribe, and the ministry he performed was an important one. Though his function was little more than that of a secretary, Tertius stands as an example to Christian writers: he faithfully committed to paper the things he heard from the Apostle Paul.

Categories
Encouragement Speaking

ANYTHING BUT THAT, LORD—By Christine Lindsay

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not
commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be
discouraged, for the
Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”


"Christine
FACT
—According to The Book of Lists, the
fear of public speaking ranks number one in the minds of the majority of
people. Far above the fear of death and disease, comes the fear of standing in
front of a crowd.

Categories
Encouragement

LOOKING FOR LOST DONKEYS–By Christine Lindsay

"Donkey2"You’ve heard the old adage, ‘cast your bread upon the waters and wait for it to come back to you’.

Well how about the adage, ‘looking for lost donkeys’?

Nope? Never heard of that one?

Lately I’ve been testing the waters to see what direction I should take with my career. Not being independently wealthy I need to bring in an income. I know, I know, who of us does not have financial difficulties? We all have our crosses to bear. Ooops, there’s another well-worn adage.

Thing is, we all have our stresses. And we all reach crossroads at frequent intervals where we have to make decisions—-will I go in that direction . . . or in this direction?

You may be looking for a job. Deciding on what college to attend. Deciding what direction God wants you to take in the writing of your next book, or speaking engagements. Perhaps your issue is health related. 

There’s an incident in the life of Saul that each time I read it, gives me comfort. The young Saul had no idea that God had chosen him to be the first king of Israel. He just figured he was an ordinary guy whose father was a farmer and owned a string of donkeys. One day those donkeys went missing, and Saul’s father sent him out to look for them.

Saul travelled through various areas, the hill country of Ephraim, passed through the land of Shalishah, etc., etc., etc. He looked for ages and all over the place. Saul could not find those donkeys.""

I can connect with Saul’s long and unfruitful search for those financially strategic donkeys.

Funny thing is, God used that long and winding search to bring Saul to the prophet Samuel. The Lord had already revealed to Samuel that He had chosen Saul to be that first king. As Samuel unveiled this to Saul, he also told him that the donkeys he was searching for had been found and were already at home, and that God had a totally new direction for his life.

""So, when you’re unclear about what direction to take in your life, or it seems that every iron you place in the fire doesn't get hot enough to provide for you, or you’re not sure which direction to cast your bread on the water, remember that God knows exactly where your lost donkeys are. He’ll bring them safely home in the right time.

The story of Saul and the lost donkeys is found in I Samuel 9

Be encouraged.

Christine Lindsay, www.christinelindsay.com

Author of the Award-winning, Shadowed in Silk

"Chris

Categories
Inspiration for Writers Writing Business

A Season for Trust


JeanneBeach3vvvvsmJeanne Dennis here. Since June, I’ve been a member of the CAN Board. Even though you haven't heard from me personally for several months, I post the CAN book releases on this blog every Tuesday and help keep the CAN website up to date. 

During this holy season, I wanted to touch base with you again and express what’s in my heart. We live in a time of personal, political, and financial uncertainty. Countless people now struggle with poor health or finances; suffer the loss of loved ones, jobs, or homes; or deal with other crises. Pain and loss often feel more acute during this traditional time of joy, hope, and peace.

People need our words as writers and speakers now more than ever. So even if the paragraph above describes our lives, let’s make this Christmastime a season of trust – trust in the One who knows all things perfectly, does all things well, and makes all things beautiful in His time.