Inspirational thoughts and random writings from the alumni and friends of Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Introducing Sharon Wilhite

Pity or Pity Party?

Nine family members' bags packed, presents wrapped and bagged, leftovers eaten, last load of laundry completed, two pet fish carried over to the neighbor's, plants liberally watered.

 I fall into bed after 11 p.m. tired but excited about our next day's much anticipated trip to my sister's home in Missouri.  We haven't made this trip in years.  The children (especially the younger boys) have been talking for weeks about seeing and playing with their cousins. 

4 a.m.  I am awakened by crying in our bedroom doorway.  One of those young boys has apparently come down with the flu.  Sigh...He has a headache, fever, and terribly aching joints.  He can't quit crying not only because he physically hurts all over, but also because he knows that the rest of the family can't go on vacation now as planned...and it's his fault.  I put him in bed with my husband and me and hold him close.  Neither of us can sleep.  I am disappointed and tired, but I love my son far more than a long awaited vacation.  I rub his legs and pray for him.  

9 a.m.  His closest brother in age comes in, disgruntled look on his face, an angry, complaining spirit filling the room.
"What?  We're not going this morning?  I'm mad at you!" his face says.
 Normal human nature?  Unfortunately, yes.  Godly nature?  No!  

A verse comes to mind.  I search my Bible to find it.  Psalm 103:13-14.  I read, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him.  For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust."  
Just as a Mom or Dad can unselfishly put aside their wishes/expectations for the needs of their children, so the Almighty God puts aside His position as Sovereign of All to meet my needs-your needs.  

Psalm 103 wonderfully reminds us that the LORD forgives and heals us, redeems us from destruction, crowns us with kindness and mercies.  He renews our strength.  God is merciful and gracious.  He is slow to anger and plenteous in mercy.  

Yes, the LORD pitieth His children.  He feels our sufferings; He understands our humanity and, therefore, can truly show us sympathy and compassion.  
I pray that my selfish young son will mature spiritually and take on the character traits of His Heavenly Father.  
I pray that "I" will not fail to consistently model godly compassion as a wife and my son's mother. 

Help me, Father.

Sharon Wilhite is the wife of one Terry Wilhite (teacher, chimney sweep, and handyman) and mother of seven children (4 girls and 3 boys, ages 6-19).  She likes to write children's picture books, poems, and insights from her personal devotions.  Her other joys in life (other than her children) include taking pictures of bugs and flowers and eating dark chocolate.  Homeschooling, housework, and cooking take up most of her time.  If anyone has a beachfront cottage they would like to loan her in order for her to write in peace and quiet, she would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011, A New Year, A New Me?

For today and today only let’s pretend you are the recipient of a great gift.  You have a ticket on a time machine.  But there is a catch.  You can only go back as far as December 31, 2009.   As you think back over the past 12 months, can you think of any day that you would go back to and change in the time machine?
Would you study for a test?  Still say those things to your husband, your child your mom, brother or sister?  Would you let yourself gossip about that irritating person?  Would you again tell that little white lie, or skip those quiet time with God? 

Take a moment to think about the past year.  See if anything comes to mind that you would change if you could.  Owning up to our failures is the first, painful step on the road to something better for our lives.

Now let's really put our imaginations to work.  You've just figured out how to turn the time machine forward.  It's December 31, 2011.  What have you been doing for the past 12 months?  Think about what will be different, what will be the same. Will you a kinder person?  Are there different attitudes in your home?  Are you happier, more loving?  Are you walking with Jesus, involved with the church? 

Don’t be afraid to dream.  If you never set up your own little row of tin cans to shoot at, you’re not very likely to hit anything, are you? 

Though it's sometimes fun to daydream, it's not enough to just hope and dream about the future and the person we’d like to become.  There's an old saying
"Those who fail to plan, plan to fail."

That rings pretty true in most parts of life. Whether we're talking about work, growing closer to God, even our family and social life, we all benefit from a bit of planning.  We want to take a look at what we can do TODAY to prevent the mistakes we made last year and to accomplish our goals for the future.

Galatians 6:7 tells us  "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap."
What percentage of your life today is producing something of value to God?  Is it time to reassess the way you spend your time and how you live your life?  What better time than now as we turn the page on the calendar to reevaluate and set God-honoring priorities for ourselves?

How would you like to have a roadmap for 2011, personally designed just for you, guaranteed to get you where you want to be in just 12 short months?  You can, you know.

Resolve: decide; determine; express as a resolution; a tool to help us achieve our goals for the coming year.

Let me start out by sharing some of MY favorite resolutions.  I was never one to make New Year’s resolutions until one of my kids was doing a school paper on the great Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards. As I was helping her do some research, I read a part of Edwards’ dairy that included the following resolutions: 

He said,
"Resolved, to live with all my might while I do live;

Resolved, never to lose one moment of time, but improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can;

Resolved, never to do anything which I should despise or think meanly of in another;

Resolved, never to do anything out of revenge;

Resolved, never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life."

Now, those are some powerful, life-changing resolutions.

These words of a great man have inspired and challenged me to set goals for myself to live at a higher level with each year that passes.  I may not always achieve my goals, but I have, at least, set a target I can hope to hit.

 My very first resolution I made and kept several years ago was simple—I resolved to stop running yellow traffic lights.  The act of writing it down seemed to imprint the idea on my heart and mind and caused a simple but lasting and needed change in my life.

Since then I’ve made resolutions for every new year in the manner of Rev. Edwards, beginning with the word “Resolved:…”   I enjoy looking back at the end of the year and seeing how I’ve done, even if I wasn’t particularly successful.  The chance to evaluate your goals and your attempts to achieve them is a gift only you can give yourself.  Please consider giving it a try this year.

As with any endeavor of this sort is it best to begin with prayer.  The New Year is a great time start out relying even more on the grace and mercy of our gracious Heavenly Father.

“Dear God, I want the new year to be different for me…” 
Now spell out in your prayer and on your own “Resolutions for 2011” page some of the changes you’d like to see in your life. 

End your prayer this way: 
“Lord Jesus, I know that I’m going to need a lot of help for this.  So right now I place myself in your hands.  Help me to rely on and receive your strength. Amen.”*

Very good.

Now you’ve got a much better chance of a
Happy New Year.

Gail P. Smith

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Introducing Helen Knueven

Heaven’s  Commentaries to Earth on Jesus Christ

We sing, “Silent Night” but I doubt the suggested silence of the first Christmas
Heaven’s First Commentary

An angel appeared to shepherds tending their sheep that first wonderful Christmas.

Luke 2:10-11, “But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:13-14 “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

Surely the shepherds suddenly knew that they were included in God’s beautiful plan even if they did not understand it.

Heaven’s Second Commentary

As wise men sought the Lord Jesus – a star guided them.  It charted the path for them as they searched for Jesus. 

In Matthew 2:9  “…and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.”

Even the stars cooperated with helping wise kings find the divine baby!

Heaven’s Third Commentary

Jesus came to John, the Baptist, to be baptized.  As Jesus came out of the water – in Matthew 4:16-17- the heavens were opened up, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
What a confirmation to John!

Heaven’s Fourth Commentary

In Luke 9:35 Moses and Elijah talked with Jesus about his crucifixtion.  The disciples were taken up into a cloud with Jesus.  They wanted to build three tabernacles; one for Jesus, one for Elijah, and one for Moses.
Suddenly there was a voice out of the cloud that said, “This is my beloved Son: hear him.”

The fact that Jesus alone was worthy of worship was established by the Father.
Many times it seems that heaven is silent – but when it comes to announcing Jesus Christ, it will speak.  He is not shrouded in mystery to those who seek Him.

I believe that these four commentaries all tie together into the message of Christmas.

It seems to me that heaven went out of it’s way in more than one way to speak to Earth in a way that we could understand.

I would summarize it this way:

  • 1st commentary – Angelic visitation to shepherds concerning Jesus’ birth.
  • 2nd commentary – Cosmic visitation and guidance to wisemen concerning Jesus’ birthplace.
  • 3rd commentary – Divine public endorsement by the Father that Jesus was/is the favored Son of God.
  • 4th commentary – Another public endorsement and instruction to “Hear Jesus” alone. 

We are called to go the second mile to make God known to others, but He went from heaven to earth to make Himself known to us.  I am reminded of the scripture in Jeremiah 29:13    And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."  God chooses how He will speak – but He is the best communicator.

The Lord desires us to know Him.  God did not come to us in lightning bolts, but in voices of guidance.  May we truly hear what Jesus says to us by opening our hearts to Him.  

I pray that this Christmas you, too, will hear the sounds of heaven as you seek Him. 

May you have a truly Merry Christmas!

Helen Knueven
I had an encounter with Jesus Christ  that changed the direction of my life forever.
Most of the songs I write are about Him.
I teach private piano lessons and write devotional studies, short stories,Bible studies and songs.
I'm lucky to be married to the greatest guy - Mike!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Introducing Robin J. Steinweg

Christmas for the Relocated

What do you do if Christmas is going to be different this year? It’s unsettling when holidays must be spent in a new place with new people.

My family was in this position a few years back.

We’d kept the same traditions for years. Now we found ourselves in a new place. The first year we did it all wrong, and I spent much of the Christmas Eve service crying in the ladies’ room. I neglected the most important thing: go to the One who understands and ask Him specifically to help (my prayers were more along the line of rehearsing my loneliness). Jesus was displaced from His heavenly home, born into a displaced family. He would have helped, if I’d asked.

The next year wised us up. The Lord led us to blend former traditions with new ones. We put up our favorite decorations and wrapped one gift to be opened Christmas Eve. To start a new tradition, The Lord let us be found by another displaced family. We went to a candlelight worship service together. Afterward, we went over for a light, easy supper and games. We sang some carols, prayed together and called it a night. A good night.

Whether you are displaced this year or know someone else who is, invite them to share the old and the new with you. Invite the Lord—who’s been there—to show you the way.

Menu for the Unsettled at Christmas:
1. Pray about it
2. Find another displaced family to invite

3. Serve easy foods
            a. Wisconsin Cheese (and cheese curds), summer sausage and crackers
            b. Christmas cookies and hot cocoa or cider
4. Play board games
5. Sing together, pray together
6. Your ideas: __________________________

Blessed Christmas!

Robin J. Steinweg thinks life is sweet right in the middle of homeschooling; writing children’s books; directing, teaching, writing and arranging music; leading worship; and listening for the Music of the Master’s voice. Robin writes devotionals for the online magazine The Christian Pulse.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Introducing Charis Seeley

At least I wasn’t trying to buy alcohol.

All my life, I’ve had two constant physical characteristics—blonde hair and deceitful youth. Recently, I exchanged blonde for black, hoping to look older. Despite being twenty-two, married, and a mother, I am commonly mistaken for a teenager. The doctor’s office will ask my age before giving me unsigned paperwork, and I’ve been stopped at grocery stores by employees wanting to know if I’ve “lost my mother”.

The worst of these happened at the bank last year.

My husband, Matt, and I went after Christmas, to deposit some checks we had received as gifts. One of them was made out to our daughter, who was two months old at the time. My husband asked the teller if we could sign the check for her, since she clearly couldn’t. The woman smiled, and said yes.

When the transaction was finished, she gave me an odd grin and a long look. She then looked at Matt and said “Can she have a lollipop?” Matt was confused, wondering why she was offering a lollipop to a newborn. He stuttered out, ”Sure,” and the woman dug up her lollipops, holding them out to me. At this point, it was too late to object and embarrass her, so I decided to ride it out. I plucked a butterscotch, and thanked her.

Meanwhile, Matt realized her blunder, and he knew it would bother me later. He put on a offended face, leaned in and asked, “Can I have one too?”.
On the walk out, he put an arm around my shoulder. Inside the car, we shared a laugh, and enjoyed our spoils of mistaken age.

I’m 22, live in Pleasant Valley, IA, and I enjoy writing Fantasy/Fiction/Coming of Age.
My name is phonetically pronounced Kah-REESE, but everyone
gets it wrong the first twenty times.
I cheered for 3 years, and I would rather not talk about it.
My sleeping habits have a few people thinking I'm a vampire. (The non-glittering kind)
I try to be a woman with a short skirt and a long jacket.
I really hate toucans.
I don’t wear orange. I refuse to win by default in pool.
I eat my ice cream in a bowl only. I would rather drink from a glass bottle than an aluminum can. It feels classier.
I work better under pressure, thus I procrastinate with everything.
I'm Plegmatic and Sanguine. Also, I don't believe in horoscopes.
I don't do running or jumping jacks. But I love Captain Jack Sparrow.
I love nacho's. I will never pass up an opportunity to have nacho's. I make a mean buffalo-chicken pizza, which was previously unknown in the mid-west. I've yet to receive the rewards I quite clearly deserve for this enlightenment.
Many people think I'm weird. I'm inclined to agree with them. :)
You can contact me at

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Poinsettias from God

Thanks to Twila Belk, our guest for today's post.
By Twila Belk, founder of the Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference
Guest Writer (Excerpted from: Christmas Miracles)

"Lord, I'd really like to have a poinsettia for Christmas. I know I don't need one, but it sure would make me happy." I prayed that prayer without telling anyone, knowing that the only way I'd get a poinsettia was through God's provision. If God wants me to have a poinsettia, he'll give me one.

Maybe that sounds like a petty prayer, but I love poinsettias at Christmastime. Something about the bright red flowers gives me joy, and I needed joy that year. My husband and I were in the midst of heavy financial troubles and didn't feel we could afford anything extra. He was without a full-time job and had experienced several health problems. Most of the family burdens became my responsibility. I wondered how we'd provide for the essentials, let alone Christmas presents for the children.

I decorated the house as best I could for the holidays, but my heart wasn't in it. I didn't want to decorate; I did it for the kids. I was sad because I wanted things I knew I couldn't have. Seeing festive decorations in stores and in other people's homes, and hearing the fun things others were doing only made me sadder.

The Sunday before Christmas our family went to church. My husband taught the high school Sunday school class and I taught the women's class. Between Sunday school and the worship service, I went into the narthex to visit friends. I watched my husband climb the stairs. His arms held an awkward pile of things. He had gifts from his students: packages of candy, books, and cards. I spotted a small, green pot with a beautiful red flower peeking out.

"Where did you get that?"

"Lauren gave it to me," Steve said. "It was nice of her, but it's kind of a strange gift for a man."

"Oh, no. That's my poinsettia. Don't even think that it's for you." He stared at me and I said, "This is a gift straight from the hands of God for me. I prayed for a poinsettia, and God answered!"

God showed me that year that he cares about poinsettias and he cares even more for me.

By the following Christmas our finances hadn't improved. However, rather than pray for a live poinsettia again, I decided to get by with the fake poinsettia stems stored in my box of Christmas decorations. They were left from the days we owned a bookstore. As fake as they were, they would add splashes of color throughout the house and give it a more festive feel.

I worked the imitation red flowers in with the decorations on the fireplace mantle. I stuck them in baskets. I inserted them between the branches of the Christmas tree. I laid them on shelves. They didn't look special, just okay, but I was determined to be content. Each time I looked at one of the poinsettia stems, I remembered God's goodness to me the year before.

On the last day of school before Christmas break, our friends Rick and Nancy visited us. Rick is the head custodian at the nearby elementary school. They came into the house carrying two huge poinsettia plants, one red and one white.

"We thought you might enjoy these. We know how much you love poinsettias." Nancy placed the two foiled pots on my kitchen counter. "They were left over from the kids' Christmas program."
I stared at how big and beautiful they were. Bright red flowers. Big white flowers. "I've never had a white poinsettia." Tears glided down my cheeks as I said those words.

I accepted that gift as if God had personally delivered them. There wasn't a handwritten note that came with the poinsettias, but I understood the divine message: I love you. I haven't forgotten you.

"You'll never know how much these poinsettias mean to me." New tears formed in my eyes as I thanked Rick and Nancy several more times. I explained that I had prayed for a poinsettia the year before and God had provided, but "This year I decided to get by without a real one. I guess God knows the desires of my heart."

My friends were delighted to be part of that special blessing from God.

The next year at Christmastime, our friend Jim called. "Janet and I have something for you. Is it okay if I come over and drop it off?" When Jim rang the doorbell, he held a poinsettia in his hands. "We remembered how much you love poinsettias. We saw this and thought of you."

Again I cried at God's goodness.

We've had many lean years, but God has blessed each Christmas with a gift of a poinsettia. They're not always from the same people; they are always from the same God. No matter how they come to me, I see them as miracles.
Poinsettias have become symbolic to me. They represent God's goodness. Each year at Christmas, they remind me that nothing is too small for God's attention. If it's important to me, it's important to him.

Twila BelkTwila Belk, also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, is a speaker, writer, publicist, and director of the Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference. She works closely with bestselling author Cecil Murphey as his manager and personal assistant. To learn more about Twila, visit
© Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson. Published by St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY  10010 Used by permission

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The 12 Days of Muse

by Kathryn Lang

The holidays make me have to sing. Me and my friends, and now my family, have spent many hours crafting our own renditions of many holiday classics. As soon as my mind went in the direction of a holiday theme for this post, the 12 Days of Christmas began to ring clear.

On the first day of Christmas, my muse said to me: “I’m not working without my eggnog.”

On the second day of Christmas, my muse said to me: “Would you go stoke the fire, and remember I’m not working without my eggnog.”

On the third day of Christmas, my muse said to me: “There are three messages in the email, it is time to stoke the fire, and remember I’m not working without my eggnog.”

On the fourth day of Christmas, my muse said to me: “You have four articles due, there are three email messages, go stoke the fire, and I’m not working without my eggnog.”

On the fifth day of Christmas, my muse said to me: “I want to wrap some presents, even though there are four articles due, and three emails flashing, so stop to stoke the fire and remember that I’m not working without my eggnog.”

On the sixth day of Christmas, my muse said to me: “I need a week off to enjoy the holidays . . . I want to wrap some presents, with four articles due, three emails calling, stop to stoke the fire and I’m not working without my eggnog.”

On the seventh day of Christmas, my muse said to me: “Exactly what is a Lord a leapin, I need time off for the holidays, and I WANT TO WRAP SOME PRESENTS, because there are four articles due, three emails flashing, stoke the fire before it dies, and I’m not working without my eggnog.”

On the eighth day of Christmas, my muse said to me: “Stop to clean the house, and picture a Lord a leapin, before taking more time for the holidays, and I WANT TO WRAP SOME PRESENTS, while the four articles come due, three emails flash, and you need to stoke the fire and remember I’m not working without my eggnog.”

On the ninth day of Christmas, my muse said to me: “Just wait until the New Year to start, because you have to clean the house, research Lord a leapin, take time to enjoy the holidays, LET ME WRAP SOME PRESENTS, and the four articles are past due, the three emails have doubled, the fire is just about out, and I’m still not working without my eggnog.”

On the tenth day of Christmas, my muse said to me: “You should have picked a different carol, wait until 2011 to start your novel, clean the house before company comes, discover the secrets of the Lord a leapin, LET ME WRAP SOME PRESENTS ALREADY, your editor wants those four articles, the three emails have doubled, the fire will have to be rebuilt and I’m still not working without my eggnog.”

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my muse said to me: “Quit piping about the novel and do it, if you ever finish this stupid carol, or you could just wait until 2011 to start, because the house really does need to be cleaned, and I still want to know what a Lord a leapin is, and I NEED TO WRAP SOME PRESENTS, the four articles are so past due, and the editor keeps emailing, you’ll have to go out in the cold for fire wood, and I’m still waiting for my eggnog.”

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my muse said to me: “I guess we should get started, quit piping up about the novel and just write already, the carol is ALMOST over, or we could wait until the New Year, company should NOT see the house like this, the Lord a leapin mystery still needs uncovering, and I MUST WRAP SOME PRESENTS, the four articles will never get done at this rate, and that’s why the emails are flashing, the fire has completely gone cold, and you have yet to bring me that mug of eggnog.”

My muse can be very demanding, and fickle, but fortunately she has never tortured me quite this bad. The one thing you can take away from this little exercise is that inspiration can be unlocked EVERYWHERE. Even an old, often annoying, Christmas carol can ignite an article that you never saw coming.

How will you choose to let the holidays inspire your writing?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Indroducing Lisa J Lickel

From One Peculiar Sort to Another

I assume that if you’re reading this, you’re one of those.

Of course, assumptions get us in trouble all the time.

Assume. What does it really mean? Let’s visit Gail’s favorite book: the Dictionary.

Assume: vt, ME, fr.
1. to take in or receive
                           2. to take upon oneself
                           3. to take control of
                           4. to pretend to have or be
                           5. to take as granted
                           6. to take over the debts of another

Creative fiction and non-fiction story-tellers make a promise to a reader. We tell you right away on the back cover what kind of a story we plan to deliver with a certain type of person who lives at a particular moment of time in a special place and is undergoing a unique and compelling predicament. We promise you an adventure in a way that makes you want to take it in, pretend to step into another world and work hard to cheer our protagonists to victory. A story teller lets the reader take for granted our control of craft by stepping out of the way.

This promise fulfilled keeps readers coming back. This promise lets the reader assume our next book will be as emotional as the first. So, are you one of those? One of those writers who keeps growing and extending yourself and stretching to find the best, most peculiar stories to share? Are you one of those readers who find the reading experience so keen you have to tell everyone about it? If you are here on this great adventure, I assume so.

Lisa Lickel 
 “What if” stories with a twist of grace
Lisa Lickel and her husband live in eastern Wisconsin in a 
150-year-old Great Lakes ship captain's house. Lisa writes 
inspirational novels, short stories, devotionals, radio theater for 
fun, edits, critiques and mentors, reads a storm, reviews and 
recently became editor in chief of Creative Wisconsin. Visit her at, and at facebook and

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Introducing Marie Tschopp


A star appeared in the eastern sky.  The Magi were known for their astrological studies, and they recognized the star for what it was—the King of the Jews birth announcement. For years theologians have tried to explain the appearance of this noble star declaring it was a planet, nova, comet, or a conglomeration of planets.  Although we don’t know the exact means God used to create the star, the most important facts we do know:  a star led the way to Christ, and wise men followed. 

As we continue to read the gospel story, we discover the Magi lost the star. (They must have forgotten to program their GPS—Gaza Pack-animal System).  The wise men ended up at Herod’s palace asking, “Where is the one who was born King of the Jews?”  After much discussion and Herod’s consternation over the constellation, the Magi left the palace and were “overjoyed” to see the star appear again, and “…the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.”  Matthew 2:9 NIV

Can you relate to the wise men’s predicament?  Do you believe God gave you a star of promise, whether it be a job, a ministry, or direction, but now the once brilliant star has disappeared and a black hole has taken its place?  Are your eyes bleary and your soul weary as you search the heavens for a glimmer of hope? 

When night envelops like a shroud, pray for guidance, stay on course, and don’t lose faith.  Even though the sky is dark now, take comfort in knowing God is still God.  Hold tight to the truth that one day the star will either reappear or you will be pointed in the direction of another shining more brightly.  And when God finally illuminates your path, you, too, will find joy. 

Father, forgive me for the times I’ve questioned you and for the times I’ve felt afraid and discouraged.  Help me to have faith and courage when things don’t go the way I think they should or when they don’t happen in my timeframe.   May I never doubt your loving care for me.  Amen


Marie Tschopp is a Quad City native and has been a professional storyteller/speaker for more years than she cares to admit.   Her most popular presentation is a dramatic portrayal of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Marie is the drama director for her church, Bethany Baptist.  She is a member of the Mercer County Christian Writer’s Group and is the founder of Watermark Women, a conservative women’s organization in Mercer County.  In her free time, Marie enjoys the pursuit of the perfect pair of shoes. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Introducing Lori Boruff

A Flying Lesson from Mary Poppins

What was your 'big girl' or 'big boy' dream when you were little?

Did you dream of being a teacher? A superhero? A princess? Did your dream come true?

My six year old dream was to fly....but not in an airplane.
I wanted to fly like magical Mary Poppins

Surely a windy, Midwestern day and mom's umbrella could take me where I wanted to go.

SLAM went the screen door.
POP went the umbrella.
OH NO – Away I go!

I hung onto the umbrella for dear life.
Up, up and away I began to go to the very tip of my tippy toes.
Guess what happened?

I got scared.
I pulled down the umbrella with all my might.
My feet became firmly planted on the ground.

Slam went the screen door.
Safe and sound in my corner of the world....
Whew went this little girl.

Today, I think about that exciting adventure and wonder....
Can dreams come true if we aren't afraid to fly?

Reflect on these questions:
  • What is my 'big girl' or 'big boy' dream?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • Do I focus on “I can't...” or “How can I...”
  • Am I afraid to fly?

Face your fear and dream big. Don't miss the adventure God has in store for you!

Be Blessed,
Lori Boruff

Lori Boruff believes in the power of hope because she experiences it. Personal 9/11's once caused her to see only hopeless ends until she discovered the secret to ENDLESS HOPE. As a Hope coach, Lori speaks at over 40 womens' events a year but dreams of reaching thousands around the world by producing and hosting her internet radio show - How to live a hope-FULL life launching in January 2011.
    Helping others live life on purpose motivates Lori to step out of her comfort zone and dream big for God. Whether freelance writing, polishing her first book, promoting a Holocaust writing project for children or directing a local writers' group - Lori is answering her God-given call to write.
    She married her sweetheart 30 years ago and they live in Aledo, IL. They've raised two sons and are proud the young men help others through military and community service. The way-to-young-to-be-a-grandma loves play days and afternoon naps with her three year old grandson.
    On the silly side of life, Lori lets bathtime bubbles wash her troubles away and chocolate be her friend.
    If Hope is like oxygen to the lungs and you have no hope - are you really living? Let Lori help you breathe deeply into the life God wants you to live.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Introducing Michael Elmore


Being overweight is an issue I have struggled with all of my life. Of course, I had been through the usual panacea of diets. Dieting and weight loss were like a never-ending yo-yo for me. I eventually tipped the scales at nearly 400 pounds and my life was miserable. What made me the saddest was the thought that within a handful of years I would die and not see my grandchildren grow up.

This led me to having bariatric bypass surgery for weight loss in April 2008. The surgery was successful except that eight months later I developed a vitamin B-1 deficiency. The result was that I woke up one morning with global amnesia, unable to walk or even talk. Eventually, doctors noticed that my blood serum B-1 level was mildly low and gave me an IV which I responded to almost immediately. Later, they told me that I had developed Wernike-Korsakoff's Syndrome, a rare disorder that usually occurs only in alcoholics.

After my release from the hospital the day before Christmas, I began a nine-month stint in therapy and a two years later, I have experienced a miraculous recovery. This is amazing since many Wernike-Korsakoff patients never fully recover and some have to spend the rest of their lives in care centers.
So what is the message behind my story? I have learned firsthand that God is my healer. I weigh 190 pounds now – not 400. I no longer have diabetes or any of the other health conditions I mentioned earlier, and the serious illness I had has resolved. I expect to see my grandchildren grow up and watch them have children. I have been given a second chance to live.

It's alright for men to admit that they haven't done such a good job of taking care of themselves physically and that they need a second chance too. The truth is that God has given all of us a second chance in Christ Jesus. Perhaps you have health concerns that you have not dealt with or have felt guilty about or been afraid to deal with. It is all right. I am familiar with those emotions and I am living proof that God can give you the second chance that you need.

Michael Elmore
Chaplain, pastor, author
The Occult Invasion of Healthcare
The Changing Face of Spirituality in Medicine

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Introducing Kathryn Lang

Becoming a Famous Writer

Getting everyone to know my name in the small town where I live can be a simple task. Finding a way to become recognized all around the globe – and across the internet – can feel like an impossible task. Successful people understand that both situations follow the same pattern.

Tips for Getting Known           

1.      Take time out to know others. People are interested in me when I show interest in them. The more focused I am on my needs then the less interesting I will be to the people around me. Online, or in line at the local store, I need to help others meet their needs by listening to their words and then pointing them in the right direction.
2.      Get out and about. No one will know who I am as long as I stay hidden away in my closet. I have to reach out and connect with others. My online time should be divided between forums, social media and other blogs as well as my own writings. I should also make time to visit conferences any chance that I can get. Contacts will beget more contacts and the only way to make contacts is to get out.
3.      Offer something worthwhile. People waste enough time as it is. I need to provide a good or service that makes spending a few minutes with me worth the effort. I can provide information or products online, or I can simply provide words of inspiration and encouragement. People need to walk away from an encounter with me with more than they arrived.
4.      Bring a smile to the table. Show people that you have the ability to find some laughter even in the tough times. A good heart draws people closer and gives them the desire to know more about who you are and where you are going. Leave the whining to the four year old.
5.      Build a pattern of integrity. Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it, to the best of your ability. Building a path of reliability allows others to spread the word that you are all that you claim to be (AND a bag of chips to boot).

Getting known only begins the process for developing a successful writing career, but it can be the best foundation for a writing platform. Take the time and put in the effort to develop relationships and you will find that those relationships help to push you towards your goals of success.

Kathryn Lang walks to the beat of her own drummer and sometimes her own band. Her unique walk was confirmed during Bible study when the preacher asked what kind of people God calls us to be. "We are called to be a peculiar people. You have that one down, don't you Kathryn?" Writing and speaking allow Kathryn to share her heart and her passion to motivate and inspire others to pursue their dreams.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Introducing Jeannette Doran

Enter into the Stillness

   When  world chaos and noise leave me in turmoil I know it is time to return to my center. I find help in entering into the stillness.  November a time of dying, when the bare land enters into sleep and a quietness settles in,  I begin to long for solitude and stretches of time to enter deep with in my soul. 

     The spring and summer beauty having given way to autumn splendor has begun to diminish. The days have grow shorter and the cool wind blows . Leaves have scattered leaving their multitude  blanket of color, reds, browns, orange and yellow. I find a new loveliness in twisted bare branches. After the rains and the dying of nature we will awake one morning to a soft covering of snow over the rich Iowa farmland. It's a time when all of earth seems to enter into a long slumber. Newly buried seeds or old ones need a resting time; it's the cycle of life. So, too I think we all need a time of leisure, of entering into the stillness to listen in silence to the voice of God. All things of beauty are created in silence someone once expressed. This symbolizes a need to take time in solitude to be Alone with God Alone.

    Reflecting on the reality that the creator of our universe dwells within our very being helps me to realize how unconditional is God's love for each of us. After time I begin to see my God working within my very being accomplishing what I have been unable to do for such a long time. This stirs up a grateful heart for all of God's gifts. My trust and faith seem to expand and I enter into the stillness in silent praise for my Creator's bondless love.

About Jeannette
After graduation I had the joy of living life in the Chiapas jungle, the land which helped to form Karena Shields into the enriching person we knew at U.S.D..This plantation was her inheritance where she arrived strapped on the back of a Mayan Indian. She grew up in this land of Maya, loving the people and their heritage. Most summers students would accompany her as a learning experience... Since I hoped to enter Carmel I felt this time in the jungle would be a space of solitude in the vast beauty of the jungle. Where I would also learn to adapt to another way of life I would need in Carmel. While I pursued my goal of seeking Carmel, I taught school. In June of 1965, I entered Carmel in Boston and went the following year on the foundation to South Dartmouth, MA. A coastland, where the waves splashed against the rugged rocky shore, was a place of splendor conducive for a contemplative life of prayer. Several reasons brought us to the difficult decision to close the Monastery in 1987. My journey brought me to Montreal for a four year study sabbatical. In 1992 I came to Iowa .and in 1994 I lived with a community of Carmelite Hermits in Minnesota for five years and returned to Iowa. Recently to our surprise when Oda Scheer visited her sister in our community we realized we roomed in the same dorm and graduated together. What a wonderful gift!