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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Top Five Things to Love About Conferences

Lisa Lickel's 
Top Five Things to Love About Conferences

1. Networking
2. Teachable Moments Abound in Every Arena
3. Book Fairs
4. Food
5. Autographs

The weekend of September 23-25 wasn’t only for the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, but also Wisconsin Writers Association, which met in Stevens Point. While I claim being one of those Introverts, I recognize that meet and greet is a necessary part of the writing and publishing business and it’s slowly coming a little more easily. I was given the opportunity to teach a workshop on a topic that was new to me – editing vs. critiquing, so while I prepared to teach with great handouts, the reality of fifty minutes goes by too way fast, and I was woefully under-prepared for the amount of participants. Lesson for me: focus more tightly next time! I enjoyed the book fair more this time around and had fun talking to people who stopped by my table. Lesson for me: when I stop worrying about what I’m going to say or if I sound nosy and focus on other people, I have more fun. I loved meeting the poet laureate of Wisconsin and buying an early signed Christmas present for my hubby. The hotel served great food, and that always seems to loosen up the crowd.

How about you? What do you like about conferences? Let’s share our favorite moments.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


By Charis Seeley

               The tiny plane rose higher and higher into the sky. I hunched over on the floor, sandwiched between the pilot and small door. My instructor, Dennis, sat in front of me. Only the pilot had a seat. Too late to go back now.

                I pressed a finger to my carotid artery. My heart pumped stronger, but no faster, than usual. I fought the urge to fiddle with the chest straps on my harness. Are these tight enough? I looked at the pack on Dennis’ back. I check my altitude bracelet. The needle danced at 9,000 feet.

                Dennis turned around. He joined our harnesses so that my back touched his chest. He checked a bunch of clasps I couldn’t identify. His right hand extended over my shoulder and gave me goggles. “Are you ready to jump out of a fully functioning airplane?”

                I’m not sure if I nodded or said yes. Whatever it was, it wasn’t a ‘No’.

                He twisted the handle, and the plane door popped open. At that height, there’s almost no way to conceive how fast you’re going. I remembered the instructions he gave me on the ground. He’ll put his right foot onto the step. My right foot goes outside his. Then I’ll move my left foot onto the step. He’ll pull back on my head and count into my ear. Then we’ll jump. While in freefall, I only need to let my arms and legs relax. He’ll do the rest.

                I moved closer to the doorway. Something in my body railed against this. In that moment, I knew I should be afraid of falling. I laughed in my head. That’s why I’m here! And the fear was gone. I looked down and saw his right foot on the step. I guided my foot to the place it should be. Or I try. The wind was so strong that it blows my whole leg around like a flag. I don’t remember how my left foot ended up outside of the plane. Neither of them ever touched the step.

                Dennis spoke and counted. Then we fell, twisted and flipped in the air. My body was not relaxed and concave.  I had pulled a ‘Superman’; my legs and arms were stiffer than a sheet of plywood. I felt his ankles wrap around mine and yank them back. We steadied out. His hands gripped my biceps and cracked them into the proper position.  I felt something snap on my left shoulder. My arm had come out of socket and he pushed it back in.

                The rest of the flight was smooth. At 6,000 feet, I pulled my own parachute. We landed to the cheers of friends. It wasn’t like the drop on a rollercoaster, but it was definitely fun.

                My right foot reminds me of when God asks something of us and we obey without commitment. On the ground, Dennis said “I have a vested interest in your safety. We’re strapped together with one parachute. I want to live. You’re going to be fine.” It put my mind at ease. I knew I didn’t really have to try very hard. Dennis would fix it. When we obey God’s original call to action but do not follow it through with the actions He requires of us, we’re bound to get hurt. It is important to put your right foot onto the step, but a lack of commitment will have you uncontrolled freefall and your endeavor will not bear fruit.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Heaven Has No Coda

by Robin J. Steinweg

“It’s fall,” my friend says.
“No!” I surprise us both with more volume

and vehemence than I meant.
More meekly, I explain my stand.

“It’s summer still. You want proof?
The trees are green; the grass wants mowing.
I still see Japanese beetles ravaging roses.
The calendar says there’s still one more day.”

(my friend laughs)
“Hang on if you want. As for me, fall’s the season.
Rip up the garden, toss out the old vines
and spent blooms. Till the soil, add organic material
to rot over winter. Cool nights make great sleeping.”

(I press my point)
“There’s still harvest to be had! More flowers;
all they need is a little extra care—to be covered
when it’s cold.

(I feel hot tears prick my eyes)
…to be enjoyed just a little longer.”

“Are we still talking about the change of season?”

(All at once I understand my emotion)
My friend has born no losses yet of family. No loved one
 has grown stooped with summer’s passing. 
No frost has nipped the bloom from a cherished vine.
Fall seems short and cruel when winter looms.         

But hurrying in to interrupt my desperate grief
comes the truth with its solace and
unwavering calm, its unending joy:

“Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be
away from these earthly bodies, for then
we will be at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8 NLT).

Life in Christ is a song. Fall is the bridge and
winter the outro. Heaven has no coda! The Composer
keeps adding voices and melodies in an eternal Arioso

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am
He who will sustain you. I have made you and
I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you” (Is. 46:4 NIV).

(I smile at my friend)
“You know, you’re right. Fall has the bluest skies 
and the brightest surprises under the chlorophyll in the leaves.
It has all the beauty of spring, the wisdom of summer, and
the promise of new beginnings.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Suspended in Time

By Narola Rolie Grady

I took a trip of epic proportions this morning.  I didn’t set out to do that, but it just happened.  It reminded me of those time line exhibits in a museum…..the kind that kids race through, while parents are torn between learning something new or corraling their offspring. 

My journey began in the early silences of a new day.  It was the words of a national leader that caught my attention.  “LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.”  Psalm 90:1.  Moses’ heart is full as he looks back over a tumulteous life  with one foot planted in sandy desert and the other in eternity. 

A dwelling place.  I bow my head in reverence as I listen to this private conversation between man and his God.  The One who formed that baby in the womb, and quietly filled his mother’s heart with a determination to keep him alive, even if it meant releasing him to an Egyptian princess. 

Moses carries that dream for his people, one so filled with the fire and power of the Almighty, that it almost destroys him when he attempts to take on Egypt singlehandedly.  But even as he retreats to the back side of a desert, God’s eye follows His every move, waiting until the flesh is broken and Moses no longer trusts in his own strength.

Moses goes on to voice this fiery relationship between Jehovah and a nation bent on living out of darkness.  Now in later years himself, this leader- turned-worshiper yields to a sovereign majesty who makes earthly joys pale in comparison.

Around verse 14, my heart joins in the refrain.  “Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days!”  I’m straining along with those early forefathers to fully enter the Promised Land.

Then I watch as Moses circles back around at the end.  “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us;  yes, establish the work of our hands.”  Peace invades the room, fills the day, and I slowly stand, knowing that this 24-hour time capsule is safely preserved for eternity. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Criteria for Selecting Leaders in the Church

By Michael Elmore

There is a push today in many churches and denominations to advance leadership within the local church. 1 Timothy 3:1 commends those who have the desire and the initiative to seek leadership within the church: “Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.” However, a considerable number of pastors and Christian leaders select leaders in their churches without considering the biblical qualifications for choosing leaders.

2 Timothy 2:2 is a pivotal verse which depicts three qualities in selecting Christian leaders: And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” The apostle Paul depicts three key characteristics that must be followed in choosing those to lead the Church of Jesus Christ. Look at the verse carefully. Note that Paul does not say that these qualities should be on the job training program, they should already be inherently part of a potential leaders Christ-like character based a certain level of Christian maturity.

First Paul states that potential leaders must be someone who can be entrusted. To be entrusted means to hold a trust of someone else’s property or well-being. As we raise individuals into leadership positions we must recognize that we are entrusting them with the greatest responsibility of all: other people’s spiritual lives and destinies.

Second, Paul states that a potential leader must be reliable. Reliability is the quality of being someone that can be counted on consistently. Consistency is a mark of Christian maturity and leaders without this quality are not fit to lead.

Third, Paul states that potential leaders must be qualified. What does Paul mean when he states that they must be qualified? Simply this: a qualified individual being considered for Christian leadership must have been mentored in Christian service. Whether this is through formal education or an in-depth mentoring process taking the time for necessary preparation for leadership is essential. Again, Paul states in 1 Timothy 3:6 that a leader should “not be a novice, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.”

The Bible states that potential leaders must be able to be entrusted, be reliable and be qualified. In today’s church there are great needs to be met in the realm of leadership. However, when out of desperation we select immature or unqualified leaders in the church we are only hurting ourselves and our congregations. This type of leader almost always falls short. Often, they are a source of constant frustration for those in authority above them. And usually they end up shirking from their leadership role.  Sometimes they must be involuntarily replaced. This is indeed a painful task to perform.

Christ-like character must be shaped and molded carefully. Galatians 4:19 reminds us that developing character takes times. “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” Christ-like character must be formed. Forming character takes time, it takes nurture and it takes patience. Leaders should not be selected too early in the process of becoming more like Jesus.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Home School Mom

By Sharon Wilhite


H - HONOR God with prayer and Bible reading to begin day
O - OATMEAL for breakfast (grins or groans!)
M - MAKE beds so do NOT fall back in them!
E - ENERGIZED by exercise (or dark chocolate)
S - SCIENCE, social studies, Spanish, second grade, Silliness!, etc. etc.
C - CHAPTER books read aloud at lunchtime
H - HEAD to library, bank, post office, grocery store, etc. etc. etc.
:)) laughing - "O" says "ah" as in "octopus"
O - OPPORTUNITIES:  music lessons, volunteering, sports, jobs
L - LAUNDRY, laundry, laundry washed, dried, folded, hopefully put away

M - MEALTIME in the evening with Dad
O - ORDER everyone to bed, ORGANIZE the next day
M - MEDITATE on Scripture, read for enjoyment to end another day 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Meet Me in St. Louis

by Marvin Ferguson

 Our daughter's boyfriend, Tim, held season tickets to St. Louis Cardinal baseball games. And so, Judy and I jumped to the invitation for an exciting weekend.

It was 4:30 a.m. when I put our suitcase in the trunk of our car. Then, in the dark, we traveled through the back roads toward the main highway.

Already traffic was moderate. People were off to visit friends, family, or perhaps going to work or joining us to the airport.

The parking lot at General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee was quiet. A few cars parked in designated spots while people rushed toward the terminal.

Inside the airport apprehensive passengers scanned the arrival and departure schedule. Long lines of people anticipated checking in along with the necessary body search. There was so much to do at the airport.

Down a long corridor Judy and I searched for Gate 15. When the ticket agent mentioned our name I knew we had arrived. "Airtran flight number... is now boarding." How were we supposed to know all the other passengers were already on board?

Twenty-five minutes ahead of schedule and we were airborne.

As some passengers stared out the window at the vast landscape, others either slept or read a magazine. Meanwhile, the flight attendant stayed busy serving us beverages along with a snack.

One hour and fifteen minutes later we were in Lambert International Airport with other people browsing through a gift shop or searching for a luggage carousel.

Finally, with a small overnight bag, two very special people greeted us. After a smile, a hug, and the usual chatter, we traveled toward The Renaissance Hotel downtown. Later that day, it will be an exciting baseball game at Busch stadium.

It was a pleasure to visit our daughter and her friend. But what I liked best was watching all the people. And God loves them all.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


By Gail Smith

Did you know one of our bloggers has a new book?  Congratulations to Kathryn Lang on publishing Practical Proverbs.  In celebration we share her press release below.

Life comes at you hard and some days it takes all the strength you can find just to get through the day. The Book of Proverbs is packed full of advice and steps to help make it a little easier to push on through to the place you desire to go.
"This book is right on target - practical advice and simple steps!" Troy works in Alabama as a contractor and craftsman. He enjoyed the humor and honesty of the way the book unfolded.
"It says practical, and it is! Kathryn Lang writes with the experience her life has given. This is a great read for anyone. I learned so much!" Bethany is a student from Colorado and beginning her own journey to the Proverbs life.
Practical Proverbs breaks down eight of the traits that can be found in the Book of Proverbs. Each trait comes to life with tips and ideas that allow each reader to mold that trait into his or her unique life.
Kathryn C. Lang speaks and writes about encouragement and positive living. Her website,, carries articles about living the Proverbs life and pursuing a life of peace, joy and hope. 
Practical Proverbs is available for eReaders through and other formats. It is available in paperback form through and 
Join me in congratulating Kathryn!  We are all so thrilled for your success and we're praying God will use your book to influence and encourage all.