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

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Light Is Sown for the Righteous

 Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. (Psalm 97:11, KJV)

By Helen Knueven
How do you sow light? Sowing represents something going into the ground – being buried in darkness; a seed. (You haven’t seen the last of it though!) It will revisit the earth in beauty. But for a time – darkness will be the companion of the seed, along with dirt. Not such a great sounding situation.
I pondered the scripture and the meaning. To me, it is a fascinating concept. I know that light cannot be overpowered – and by one strike of a match a dark room is lightened. It seems that light would be overpowered if it was sown.
And yet, God’s Word says the light is sown.
I remembered that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World –and I thought about the utter darkness of the Cross. And yet – the brilliant light that Christ gives to all who believe.
Yesterday, I received an email from a missionary friend in Cambodia. She said, ‘Please pray for us – things are not right. Our children had their house broken in – My husband fell into a pit, and my own wrist is broken. And on top of all of that, sickness has attacked.
Then I remembered the scripture. “Light is sown for the righteous.” Cambodia is a dark place where sex trafficking is done without restraint – and God has sent our friends there to bring His love into this dark corner of the world.
Our friends are sowing the light of Christ into Cambodia – perhaps you know missionaries that have went into dangerous ly dark places to spread Christ’s love.
I believe that we can pray for them and sow light into the darkness too. We can be partners with them drawing upon the light that only Christ gives; expecting to reap a harvest of light. Our efforts can seem so weak – so lacking and yet all God expects us to do is give our best. He will pick up the slack and cause seeds to grow.
How will you sow light today?
Prayer: Lord, help me to go into the darkness, declaring your goodness in the midst of a crooked generation, and shine as your light,
in Jesus name. Amen.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Book Nook: A New Year

By Shelley Akins
Happy New Year! 
No I’m not messed up with my calendar. I’ve always thought that the beginning of school was a more appropriate time to celebrate new beginnings and starting over. At the start of the school year, you get a new teacher, new classroom, new people, new unsharpened pencils, clean white paper full of possibilities. You get new clothes and new shoes. Anything is possible in this new year.
As a kid, teacher and now a parent, I looked forward to these new beginnings. When I was a student, I was reunited with friends that I hadn’t seen for an entire summer. As a teacher, I was filled with the hope of the year that was to come and what great and awesome things my students and I would do together. Now, as a parent of a kindergartner, I’ll send Joel off to school on Monday with the anticipation of learning new things, meeting new people and starting his own journey into the school cycle.
In light of this New Year, I have made some reading goals for myself:
1. I will read at least four non-fiction books before the end of May. I’ve been generating a list and am excited to read them.
2. I will read at least 10 books on the Illinois Read for a Lifetime list (can be this year’s list or past years). I discovered new authors and wonderful new stories. I will not spend time reading books I don’t like just because they are on this list.
3. I will read the five books on my shelf that others have lent me and give them back.
4. I will continue to read the next books in the series as they come out: Power of Six, Beautiful Days, and Goliath come out in the next few weeks.
5. I will keep track of everything that I read. This was a resolution of mine a few years back and I am still working at it.

So five goals. If I add it up that’s 21 books to read in nine months. That’s doable.
What are your New Year’s goals?
Shelly can be reached at She’s always searching for book recommendations.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Five "Showers of Blessing" From a Late Summer Rain

This morning sitting on my "porch of praise" I was blessed by a big, loud, blowing thunderstorm.

1.  Rain, pouring down, sweeping in sheets across the avenue, darkening the sky, but brightening my day. 
I love thunderstorms.

2.  Thunder-- rolling, rumbling, crashing, electrifying the sky.
It is beautiful and powerful and awesome~
Just like the Lord God Almighty!

3.  Curb-side creeks flowing down, washing clean the streets and sidewalks.

4. Rain pitter-patter pounding, soaking flowers, fruits and veggies, bring life to dry ground.

5. The fragrance of  rain-washed freshness, fills my heart and lifts the spirit to the all powerful
Creator God
Who rains down all good gifts
Onto all His children
He loves us

And just when you think it's all over
One last shout-out from God, the Rain-giver's exclamation point.

Thank you, Lord, for these showers of blessing! All creation is telling Your glory.

By Gail P. Smith

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Squirrels, Noodles and Forgiveness

By Kristi Paxton

Our relationship with Fluffy Tail and cohorts is complicated. When we were in college, we were poor, so my big burly husband often stepped out the back door of our rented farm shack and shot a squirrel. Have you ever tasted a squirrel salad sandwich or squirrel and noodles? Minus the tiny hairs, it is remarkably similar to salad and noodles with chicken, but more labor intensive.

Now, thirty-five years later, I often see same burly husband sitting on the deck, now a squirrel chase  spectator. He is weaponless. I imagine the squirrels remind him of olden days, chasing his brothers.

Next day, I might catch hubby on the same deck, armed, nobly taking aim at a squirrel that has managed to eat a hole into our house. I wonder how he could murder our furry friends. (Incidentally, I’ve never seen one go down in combat)

One night during the flood of 2008, we were watching CSI and my husband disappeared outside for a while. He returned and took his place back on the couch. I figured he’d left his mower out in the rain and went to rescue it. No explanation needed.

Two CSI episodes later I heard a persistent squeaky sound coming from the basement.  “What is that noise?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s my pet squirrel. I found him drowning outside, saved him, brought him in and built him a little house with a bed downstairs.” Hubby didn’t look up from his show.

“Yeah, right.” I refused to look at him and dignify his response.

Another CSI episode ended and the squeaking persisted. During commercial break, I got up as if heading for the bathroom, but went downstairs instead. Behind the utility room door was the squeak source. In a tidy box with a neatly folded red washcloth was a baby squirrel, his wet hair plastered to his bony body. He shivered and squeaked at me.

“I met your friend,” I commented, staring at the screen.

“Yeah, he almost drowned and I saved him,” said my husband proudly.

Next morning, “Pink” (We named him “Pink” after the Pink Squirrel beverage) was fully fluffed, full of fleas and ready to join the family. I glanced at our two leering dogs and suggested we release “Pink” far from home. My husband resisted. He’d already bonded with his new baby.

“You know, some day you will have to decide if you want to murder them or adopt them,” I said.

When he left for work, I delivered “Pink,” in his house, still lying in his bed, to the animal rehabilitation expert in our town. I don’t think my husband ever forgave me.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

By Sharon Wilhite

How beautiful is a well-watered, well-tended garden - lush with colorful fruits, vegetables and flowers! I love planting, photographing, and picking the fruits (or veggies) of my labor. 

I do NOT like weeding my garden (nor do my children!). However, left unchecked, weeds grow much faster than the seeds I planted and will soon take over - ruining what could be beautiful and flourishing.
While out weeding together, I tell my children that weeds are like sin in our lives; fast and easy to grow but so hard to eradicate once firmly established. If the soil is dry, some weeds are almost impossible to pull, and a sharp hoe must be used to dig them out; if the garden is moist from a good rain or hose watering, then those same weeds come out with much less effort.

Consistently watering one's life from the living water of God's Word will keep the soil of our heart soft - making it easier to weed out the bad and grow what is good and pleasing to God.

"But GROW in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ." II Peter 3:18

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I'm Turning Fifty!

By Lisa Lickel

What I've accomplished pre-fifty:

·         Got married and raised two pretty nifty kids

·         Enjoyed my college degree in history by living local history

·         Visited the 49 continental states

·         Published three novels and a great load of other stuff

·         Lived in a really cool house with a garden and grapes and lily of the valley all over

·         Learned to like venison over beef and ice-fished bluegills over catfish. Still working on the asparagus.

What's on the Bucket List before the next fifty closes:

·         Hold a grandbaby

·         Help the kids move One Last Time

·         Move ourselves to the farm (as in, not the funny, but our own)

·         Sign a half-dozen more contracts for novels

·         Figure out how to use a smart phone

·         Use my new passport for a country not attached to America

How 'bout you? Got any burning bucket list desires?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

In July, I was called and selected for jury duty. The defense attorney asked us relevant questions and irrelevant ones, such as “Who’s your favorite comedian?” and “If you could live anywhere, where would you go?” The latter caught me off guard, and I tried to think of where I would move; only I couldn’t. When I recounted this to my husband, he was just as shocked as I was. Iowa has muggy summers and bitter cold winters, two things I don’t do well in. But we have a toddler, the school system here is amazing, we love our church and our friends are like family.
If I could live anywhere, I’d live right here.

By Charis Seeley

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Breaking Through the Fog

Are you THE Kathryn Lang - the one that writes for that paper?” My husband’s groan could not be heard, but I could see it written all over his face. He sat helplessly as my head began to swell.        
 “Yes, that’s me.”

 “I love what you write.”

The one compliment would have made my day. The fuss the ladies began to make over me made my year! It seemed like the perfect time to pitch my book.

 “I’m editing my book right now.”

 “I know it will be great. Never stop writing.”

That has been my problem in the past. I have stopped doing the things that I found a passion to do. I stopped writing when I was a teenager because I got a rejection (just one did me in). I stopped dancing in college because one coach told me I did not have the body to dance.

The praises that I received were an amazing boost to my ego. It was definitely something that I could get accustomed to hearing. But it was the reminder to stay true to my passion that meant the most.

Over the last few weeks I have struggled to stay on task. The dollar signs have clouded the passion and made it difficult for me to find my way. The fog began to lift yesterday. The encouragement from these women made everything crystal clear.

Never stop. Once you grasp your passion and your dream then pursue it to the end.

Humor is Grave Business

By Robin J. Steinweg

My mother and I visited the monument company to choose a headstone for my dad’s grave. We’ve cried enough tears the past five months to start a new river. We miss him. We know the verse from Psalm 116 that says “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” This is a solemn undertaking. Both of us recognize that. So how is it that so many things strike us funny at the wrong time?

The proprietor took us to the back room to see samples. A prominent sign displayed this boast:
“We guarantee all of our headstones for life.”
(Whose? Think about it.)

Mom has a propensity for popping off poetry at a moment’s notice. She dreamed this gem one night, and it was true of my dad: “I am a steamfitter, it’s the life I have led; stopping and starting and bumping my head.”

Mom wondered if we should engrave that on the back of the stone (which otherwise will be as bald as Dad’s head was). I mentioned it’s only fair to include a verse for Mom, too, since if the Lord tarries she might share the same resting place. She didn’t miss a beat: “Roses are red, violets are blue—I’m happy now, ‘cause I’m with you.”

Do you know any amusing epitaphs? I found a few:

Here lies Johnny Yeast. Pardon me for not rising.
I told you I was sick
Here lies Lester Moore—four slugs from a forty-four. No Les No More.
Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake—stepped on the gas instead of the brake.
I knew this would happen
Beneath this grassy mound now rests one Edgar Oscar Earl, who to another hunter looked exactly like a squirrel.
Owen Moore: Gone away owin’ more than he would pay
She always said her feet were killing her, but nobody believed her.
Here lies Ann Mann, who lived an old maid but died an old Mann

Johnny was a chemist, but he ain’t no more; what he thought was H2O was H2SO4.

On an atheist’s stone: All dressed up and no place to go