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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Braggin' on God

A very special welcome to Twila Belk, our guest blogger for today!  Twila is the founder of the Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference, where we bloggers connected.  She is also an author, speaker and personal assistant to Cecil Murphey.  Welcome Twila!

Hi, I'm Twila Belk, otherwise known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal. As you get to know me, you'll discover that one of my favorite things to do is brag on God. In fact, I've coined a new phrase - Braggin' on God. I'd like to invite you to brag on God with me.

Are you aware that there are benefits to braggin' on God? Let me tell you about them –

  1. Braggin' on God helps us remember. And we need lots of help remembering, because we can tend to be forgetful - especially when facing unpleasant circumstances. The more we talk about God and brag on God, the more we remember who He is and how big He is. If we can remember what God has done for us in the past, we can trust Him for today and tomorrow. We need to revisit His goodness often.

  2. Braggin' on God encourages others and gives them hope. If others hear us talk about God's faithfulness and goodness and provision and care and healing and love and all the wonderful things He does, they should be encouraged. They should be filled with hope by realizing that God is a big God and that He is fully able to do the same thing in their lives.

  3. The best benefit of braggin' on God is that it glorifies Him. And that's why we were created in the first place! When we brag on God, we shine the light on Him. When we brag on God, He smiles. Big time.
I personally believe we should have braggin' on God parties instead of Tupperware parties. What do you think? It's a great thing to do.
Would you like to join the braggin' on God party?  I invite you, as the psalmist did in Psalm 105:2, to "Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts." Let's hear your story.

Twila Belk, also known as the Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, is a popular speaker, writer, radio personality, and conference director who works full time with veteran author Cecil Murphey. She is the co-author of Because You Care with Cecil Murphey (Harvest House, January 2012) and author of Gotta Get 'em Fixed!. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Spirit of Christmas (St. Martin's Press, October 2011),  Christmas Miracles, and Disciplines 2009. She hosts the Cec and Me radio show, which airs live on Tuesday nights at Twila is a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Booksellers Association, The Writers View, and Christian Humor Writers.
You can contact Twila at

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chariots of Fear

By Marie Tschopp

Have you ever wanted to smack someone upside the head?  I’ve wanted to, especially after reading passages like this:   

“Joshua replied, “If the hill country of Ephraim is not large enough for you, clear out land for yourselves in the forest where the Perizzites and Rephaits live.”  They said, “The hill country is not enough for us, and the Canaanites in the lowlands around Beth-shan and the valley of Jezreel have iron chariots—they are too strong for us.”  Joshua 17:15-16 NLT

What was the Israelites’ problem?   God miraculously brought them out of Egypt, led them by a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day, caused water to flow from a rock, sent manna from heaven, and parted the red sea while destroying Pharaoh and his army in the process.  Yet, they still whined that ordinary men with iron chariots were too strong to overcome.  Sheesh! 

In retrospect, sometimes my faith journey isn’t much better than the Israelites.  For example, my husband injured his back this winter and couldn’t work.  The injury appeared as a Canaanite with an iron chariot, too strong to overcome.  (Insert a good head-smack here).   I knew better.  I’d seen the faithfulness of God too many times—times when there was more month than money, and the money stretched.  Times when I needed an encouraging word and the phone rang.  Times when the factories my husband worked for closed, and other employment opened.  Time after time, miracles dropped from the Father’s hand straight into mine, and this time was not different.  I shouldn’t have been afraid. 

Take it from me, if you should spy a Canaanite, don’t despair at the spinning wheels of his iron chariot.  Instead, recall the faithfulness of your Father and heed the exhortation from Joshua 17:18 “…you can drive out the Canaanites from the valleys, too, even though they are strong and have iron chariots.” 
If you have problems doing this, let me know.  It’s been a while since I smacked somebody. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pressure to be Perfect

by Lori Boruff –
Pressure to be perfect may push us one of two directions- overwork or under achieve. Some people strive for perfection with unlimited preparation and perspiration expecting everyone to do the same. Others throw in the towel before they try because they know it's not going to be perfect. Either way, results lead to dead dreams and unmet goals. How do you respond?

I believe accomplishing a task with excellence honors God. However, fear of rejection often becomes our driving force taking us in the wrong direction. Our self-worth mistakenly depends on our ability or inability to perform. We long for approval from others, even God.

God says it himself in Matthew 5:48 (NLT) - You are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Talk about pressure to be perfect!  It's tough enough living up to an imperfect earthly father's expectations let alone expectations of a flawless Heavenly father.

Don't be discouraged or defeated. A little understanding of the word perfect gives new perspective and passion.

Ironically, the modern meaning for “perfect is imperfect from a biblical view. Webster's Dictionary defines it as having no defect or fault. Thus, the pressure humans put on themselves or others.

For the follower of Christ the biblical definition  means suited for a determined purpose. When God told his people to be perfect as he is, he meant “be fitted for your purpose, to fulfill your ultimate design, as fully as God is.” His command does not come with unbearable pressure or a set up for failure. It's inspiration to fulfill your God-given destiny.

You are already approved by God. Exhale! Obedience honors God. Exhale again! Now, allow him to use those imperfect experiences to move you into his perfect plan and purpose for your life.

God is my strength and power; and he makes my way perfect. 2 Samuel 22:33 (MKJV)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Carpe Diem

By Lisa Lickel

I live with a double whammy of health issues. It wouldn't even be a problem if we lived fifty years ago; and yes, I'll be celebrating the big 5-0 later this summer. There wouldn't be a problem because I wouldn't have known at least one of my genetic health problems and therefore wouldn't care. One of the conditions is controllable – with side effects that don't make me happy to be alive; in fact, I'm struggling to work off the result of the third medication trial. Ugh. I believe the conditions go hand in hand; therefore I choose to ignore the ignoble treatment of the controllable condition; the other issue has no treatment and no cure at this time.

That leads me to ponder what will get me first. The long-standing death at 54 of someone or two in every generation we can count? The controllable issue? The tired semi drive or drunk driver that crosses into my lane? The weather?

Honestly, who cares? I made my peace with God long ago. I raised two great kids who love the Lord and serve him with all their hearts. I published three novels by traditional means. I have made a difference around me in at least one person who was moved to a deeper relationship with God as a result of my work. I may not have the greatest witness, but I am assured that nothing will separate me and my Greatest Joy.

I choose these moments to mentor other writers; I choose these moments to give other writers a voice, a chance to succeed that may not come from any other source; I choose to leave a legacy that my children can be proud of. I choose to know God, to love the Lord, to relish the moments as if each were my last. To enjoy what which I have been given but also to look forward to what I cannot understand with my earthly mind and heart. To sing in righteous voice. To praise without a sin-filled backlight. To know fully, even as I am fully known. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Finding Peace

By Jeannette Doran

Fear and anxiety! How they disturb our peace! To live in tranquility is everyone’s desire. Yet, how is that possible in today’s world? Just turn on the news and we see violence and anger exploding from every corner of our world. Can we keep these external events from destroying our inner peace? Do we realize that we allow ourselves to be swept away with issues outside of us that are sometimes minute ? This in turn can create overwhelming fear and anxiety.

If this happens so easily what do we need to do to guard our peace?

I have come to understand that when I focus on the beautiful in my surroundings quietness envelops my being. I like to call these God gifts. I delight in the dancing willow branches newly blossomed, in the greening grass and bare branches painted in yellows and green swaying with abandon.

The beauty of God surrounds us in creation. My solution is to focus on the positive and the loveliness. To choose what brings peace and not fear. It can be a holding on to a lovely thought as well as looking at a golden crocus amidst the brown leaves, the red tulips in bloom or feeling the gentle breeze on my face. I do whatever quiets my inner being and helps me rest there in peace in God’s presence. May we all learn to look at the beauty around us and find God’s peace in each moment.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Hot Corner

By Marvin Ferguson

The veteran baseball player has been around for a long time. He started with the Boston Braves (1946). Before ending his career as a player with the Milwaukee Braves (1960), he entertained New York Giant, St. Louis Cardinal, and Philadelphia Philly fans.

 He was a successful manager, winning a pennant with the Giants (1962). More managing opportunities followed with the Kansas City Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, and San Diego Padres.

 During his baseball career he received many accolades—3x All Star selection, 2x World Series Champion, 1948 Rookie of the Year, and 1955 Lou Gehrig Memorial Award.

But I remember Al Dark best when he played third base with the Chicago Cubs. He fielded fast moving ground balls, caught sharp hit line drives, and made the long throw across the diamond look easy.

 He described the third base position as "The Hot Corner." Surely, it was a place where it was necessary to stay alert.

 Life is like living on "The Hot Corner." It's a do or die situation—a relationship with God. Either we're in the loop or not. There is no neutral middle of the road position. By doing nothing with our own life doesn't make our relationship with God right.

 Al Dark knew the importance about playing third base. Playing good defense helped win ball games. A poor performance and the team suffered losses.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Finding Hope from the Storm

By Kathryn Lang

The sun woke me up – caused by partial curiosity about what I would see out my window and a growing hope that I would be able to plug in the coffee maker to my battery backup. The devastation around me had not cleared up during the night but saying out loud that I have it bad becomes tough when I know that others around me were hurt so much deeper. It still hurt to see the limbs and debris that reminded me of the trees on the other side of the house.  Matters only got worse when the coffee issue did NOT get resolved. Strike two.

Thursday needed something normal after such a crazy Wednesday. It started at six in the morning with as close to a direct hit as I ever want to encounter. We left for shelter shortly after that first round cleared out. The three trees sitting on the house would have probably anchored us from being carried away, but my husband was worried about the structural integrity more than anything else. A crack in the kitchen and a crack in the boys’ bedroom hinted at some serious damage.

He and I drove back to see our property during one of the many breaks to check on everything or more to see if there WAS anything to check on. The highway was covered with downed trees that had not been there before. A second storm had struck our community. The factory a mile from us had been demolished.

It looked like everything for us was still in the same shape that we had left it. No electricity, a hole in the wall and three trees on the roof. Home sweet home.

We returned to hunker down for two more hours sheltered from the storms then we made the dark ride home. The stars were shining bright but they only seemed to add to the darkness. The town near our home was dark and the drive home was covered with debris. If you did not know your way by instinct then you were NOT going to find it by sight.

It will take months for us to recover from the storms that swept through on Wednesday, April 27, 2011. I walked around yesterday looking for some idea of what I could do and I am still looking. My to-do list includes a lot of boxing up and throwing out and hope.

Hope from the Storm

Faith – I hope that my attitude and actions show my faith in God. He did so much preparing our lives for the storms and sometimes we miss what He has done for what is coming when the storms hit.

Testimony – I hope that what happened that morning allows us to tell of God’s protection and guidance. We were in the roar of the storm, but no one was hurt and even they had a sense of calm during the chaos.

Praise – I hope that this storm draws an entire community together to praise the blessings that can come from the storm. It will take months for all the trees to be cleared, but many of the projects that we have talked about for years will be completed when the work is done. We made new friends and reconnected with old friends during the storm. The calls of concern and support were a reminder that we are not alone.

Determination – I know that I am called to write. Journaling became my only release and I continue to journal about the experience. God put a desire and a purpose in my heart when it comes to writing and I have to be determined to push beyond all of the distractions (no matter what their packaging) to reach the place.

The storms of life come unexpectedly and sometimes with great devastation. But the sun comes up the next day. See past the debris and destruction and dig down for your hope. Never let the things that are right now hinder you from experiencing the blessing of tomorrow.

Let the faith that is planted in your heart through worship, study and prayer grow a testimony that you share through your words. Praise the Hand that guides and be determined to stay focused on Him no matter how the waves try to toss you about.

Extreme Couponing

By Genaire Walker

Extreme Couponing anyone?  I recently became a fan of Extreme Couponing, the new show broadcast on TLC.   Though I watched my first episode quite by accident, something interested me about people who dedicated  considerable time honing a skill that allowed them leave a grocery store with $1,100 dollars of groceries for a mere $52 bucks. 

Intrigued, I began to research and implement couponing in my own home (albeit with a less “Extreme” and more pragmatic approach).  One would think after years writing ads, I of all people, should be immune to “buy it now” web blinkies and 60 second shameless plugs for products and paychecks.

My first month of couponing revealed otherwise.  Not only was I faced with a sobering reality check of my stewardship habits, it forced me to take a hard look at the small fox that has found its way into too many of our homes – the need for instant gratification.

Even I was not immune to a culture where instant gratification is the norm.   Today, everything from our account balances to our oatmeal must be available in only a moment.  Lightening fast Wi-Fi connections allow us to get email, locate friends, share pictures and tweet -- instantly.  It seems everything that surrounds us screams:  SEE IT NOW! HAVE IT NOW! DO IT NOW! 

Much like other areas in my daily walk; couponing requires a serious mental shift, and a lot of change.  Retraining has been challenging to say the least. Here are a few of the things I have learned so far:

·         Couponing requires patience. Instant gratification must be eliminated for success. Extreme couponers only buy when it is the most profitable.  This means getting control of self.

·         The successful couponer has lost a sense of entitlement. They live on what is available and what is on sale, instead of insisting on favorite products, brands or timing. 

·         Couponers think exponentially, plan carefully and act confidently.  (Imagine if more people exhibited faith in this way!)

·         The best coupon clippers realize blessings can be multiplied.  If one is a good deal, why not multiply it and have an abundance share?

One of the best tips I saw on couponing came from  An article suggests taking $20.00  and practice using coupons to donate as much as possible to a local food pantry.  Not only does this practice bless others, but it retrains the mind to let go of brand loyalty and bad spending habits.   Realizing that the author was able to donate thousands of dollars worth of food for only a few hundred got me excited to try and bless others on my meager budget!

As with any reality TV show, some of the people on Extreme Couponing have gone way overboard; complete with family drama; OCD arrangements of coupons and stockpiles that border on hoarding.  But applied in moderation, there are some valuable concepts to be learned.

 I won’t even pretend that I am going to live for months on $1 per day; dumpster dive for newspapers, or fill my home to the roof with toilet paper and ketchup.   I will, however, allow God to make me more thoughtful, hopeful, grateful and giving --- and save a few bucks in the process.  Now that’s a sweet deal!

“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”

-          2 Cor 9:10 - NIV