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

Thursday, October 27, 2011


By Brenda Lysak

Preschoolers exhibit high interest and curiosity for language development. They enjoy the sounds of language in terms of stories, rhyme, singing, and developing pre-reading skills. Landmark preschool uses all of the above to encourage growth and development in phonemic awareness. 

Curriculum has been developed with language as a focus. Children are introduced to the names of the ABC’s as well as the sounds they make. We encourage participation by drawing imaginary letter s in the air and reluctant learners are able to focus when the letter is written on their back.  Note: Introducing every letter is not important as we feel that it is more productive to ‘finish’ letters and the words they create. Small groups create an art project or craft exploring the above information in yet another way.  Fine motor and early reading skills build self confidence. 

Curiosity is encouraged and developed with high interest learning centers. We have a magnet, ABC, play dough, cutting, literacy, sorting various materials, train, counting, paint, magnifying glasses to explore natural material, building, and sewing stations. These are rotated according to interest, need, and or theme.  The various stations are designed to encourage imagination, creativity, and independence.
Colors, shapes, and counting skills are included in the moment. During morning rituals, kids count concrete objects in a holistic fashion.  This provides staff with an opportunity to assess counting development. Puzzling is often included in the day’s activities.   Staff helps children choose puzzles with appropriate challenge. Birthdays are celebrated by singing to BD child and counting candles together. Expected outcome is growth of self esteem, fine motor and social skills. 

Free play is respected at Landmark Preschool by utilizing sensitive transitions from one activity to another. We do not hold to a rigid schedule although we do have a schedule. For example when large motor activities is scheduled we observe play to see if children are ready for a change and initiate transition when they are ready. For example: if they have had 45 minutes of free play, and demonstrate an interest or need for large motor play.  

Social skills are developed in the moment as well as outside of the moment. During circle time children are encouraged to respect each other’s space, and share attention.  They share attention by listening to each other and by learning to raise their hands instead of all talking at one time. During play time they are coached through conflict in terms of looking out for each other. For example if someone has grabbed a toy or hit someone the offender is encouraged to say they are sorry and look after the offended child by asking if they are ok. If a child tattles we try not to fix, instead empathize thereby encouraging independent conflict resolution and healthy boundary development.

Outside of the moment, we sing a sharing song during circle time and talk about what to do if someone has upset you or if you have upset someone else. This is done through questions, “what should you do if you hurt someone?”  We practice saying together, “I’m sorry” and “are you ok?” Children’s sense of safety after this conflict coaching increases resulting in more friendship and bonding. Landmark Preschool endeavors to provide a learning environment that is appropriately challenging and pleasurable preventing misbehavior while encouraging healthy relationships. 

Questions/concerns: At the beginning of the year we have a “greet the teacher” Day where children and parents meet the teacher and board members. Also once a month we have a newsletter that communicates learning activities, outings, and birthdates of children. There is a picture from the previous month included. 

There are 2 bulletin boards in entrance with various postings. At the sign in table handouts such as scholastic or newsletters may be found. Children’s names are found on table by each child upon arrival and taken to the classroom.  At Christmas we have a short play the children do for their parents and we all celebrate after with treats at tables. We love volunteers and need you to have an optimal learning environment. Teachers are available at the beginning and end of each day and at events for questions and concerns as well as by phone or email.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Meditation on Psalm 97:11

By Helen Knueven
(Psalm 97:11 KJV)  Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.
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 gone into dangerously 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.

Photo courtesy of Motion Worship

Thursday, October 20, 2011


By Narola (Rolie) Grady

A month ago, I went through a writing drought.  My soul felt like baked earth, and a deadline was looming in the distance.  Desperate for help, I emailed Robin, a fellow writer, and our dialogue changed the atmosphere in my spirit.  This blog entry is our conversation.  I hope it will touch some dry spots in you that need moisture.

Dear Robin,

Great blog this week. You are so honest in your struggle to wait on God, especially  when you see doors for ministry fly open for some of your friends.  I’ve had that experience too.  One of my reactions (inside) is to roll over and play dead, in a manner of speaking.  I get so taken by the gifting displayed in someone else, and then wrongly discredit what God has placed in me.  Not good.

So, Robin, here’s your chance.  Speak into this unhealthy spot.  Pour weed killer on it if the Spirit leads.  There needs to be a focus adjustment…one that promotes growth.  I’ll start the conversation with myself:

God has given you many gifts with words and music.  You have been stoking the proverbial fire with good, positive kindling from people like your new friend, Robin.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem to be enough.  But this isn’t the time to retreat and play Freecell on your computer.  Will there be challenges as you take the next step?  Yes, just like there have been for every one of your brothers and sisters in Christ. But God wants to show Himself strong on your behalf against enemy weapons that beat you down……….   Take it away, Robin.

(Robin’s response)
Rolie, you can step into this next place of faith – of speaking out what you agree with God concerning your beautiful design.  You have no competition in God’s Kingdom.  He is lifting layers that reveal more intricacy and gifting and worship.  No retreat is needed, but forward advancing is the order of the day.  You are stepping, your feet hitting the ground, and everywhere you place your foot is your life’s territory!  It feels new, but it’s the path designed for you from the foundation of the world.  You are doing it.

And it’s not works.  It’s that beautiful, unconditional love pouring into you, helping you become the you He already sees you to be.  Redeemed, valued, with eyes that wait to see into the depths of the things of God and bring them out with words – because it’s with words that things come into being – your spirit words flow and you are changed and people who read your words are changed.

And your willingness to be on the journey required of you shortens the path of someone else's journey.  And they find fulness of life because you were willing.  And He shows you the beauty and connects the dots, and you see the grace that holds it all up.

God is always doing something new.  Do you not see it?  He can make a way through a wilderness and cause streams to flow in a desert!  (Isaiah 43:18)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Google, God and Me

By Gail P Smith

“Oh Lord,
There are so many wonderful things to know in this world.  But Your knowledge is better than any other-- timeless, true, and never changing.

Help me to FOCUS-on You and Your Truth. 
Help me to prioritize the incredible flood of information that comes at me
as relentless as waves of the ocean,
as demanding as a screaming child,
and as uncontrollable as a run-away train.”

I prayed this prayer last week as I sat on my porch one morning trying to corral my own run-away thoughts for my time alone with God.
I opened my Bible to Proverbs 23, verse 1 and what I read is in italics. (What I heard, in my heart, is in parenthesis.)

When dining with a rich man (when online on your computer)
Be on guard and don’t stuff yourself, though it all tastes so good: (Watch out, you don’t have to read everything that looks interesting, funny or so good)
For he is trying to bribe you (Cyber space would steal your time and your attention from, the crucial, the eternal to the trivial and meaningless.)
And no good is going to come from his invitation. (It will not help you become the person you want to be.)

I joyfully wrote in my journal:
"Wow, Lord, even as I pray today in October of 2011, You had already answered my prayer thousands of years ago, speaking to my heart through the wisdom you gave to a king so long ago.  You are an awesome, amazing and incredible God.  There is none like You!"

Dear Father,
Let neither my head nor my heart be bribed away from You, for reverence for You, Lord is the beginning and the ending of all wisdom.

I will answer their prayers before they finish praying (in my case about 3,000+ years before
Isaiah 64:24

It's our choice, isn't it?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Identity Crisis:

By Shelly Akins
Identity: identifying ones self as something.

All summer people have been asking me, “What have you been doing now that you quit your job?”  I find myself struggling to answer this question.  I’m not a stay-at-home mom because my kids still go to day care; I’m not working on writing seriously, so I’m not a writer; I’m not a teacher because I just sub.  I started thinking, I’m not really anything. 

That’s not really a true statement.  Of course I’m a wife, mother, daughter, friend, but why isn’t that enough?  Why do I feel like I need a job to have an identity?  Maybe it’s because we spend most of our lives telling people what we want to do and be.  When we’re five people ask: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  When we’re in high school we’re asked, “What are your plans for after graduation?  What are you going to do?”  When we’re leaving college people ask “Do you have a job?  What are you doing next?”  Our jobs dictate where we live, what kind of car we buy, the house we live in, what vacations we take.  We are identified by what we do, for better or worse.

So how do I answer the question, “What do you do?”  I substitute teach.  I do laundry.  I’m a consultant.  I hang out with my kids.  I play Wii games.  I watch Project Runway.  I write on occasion.  I go to lunch with friends.  I quilt. 

I love having control over my time.  Time to discover my new identity and a new way to answer the question, “So, what do you do?”  I do what I need and want to do. Each day is a new adventure and I am enjoying not knowing what it is I do.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Look Again

By Kristi Paxton

At first glance, my daughter’s Brooklyn neighborhood is disgusting. I wove my way down broken sidewalks as discarded papers blew across my path. Inside a tiny cafĂ©, I feasted my eyes on authentic antique dirt, permanently affixed to the walls with ancient kitchen grease. Can’t you just smell it?

     But I made myself look again and I saw America’s melting pot still simmering on the stove. In one block I found three Chinese bakeries and a kosher deli next door to a grill cook creating made-to-order tacos for breakfast. He knows what his customers will order before they open their mouths.

     Across the street I found a combination of shops to put Mall of America to shame. First was a window full of “fine furs.” Next door a row of Peking ducks garnished the window like swags of Christmas garland. Adjacent to the ducks was a storefront full of wedding dresses. All in a row, just steps between them. A bride could receive a proposal, buy a gown and a fur for the evening, then fling a dozen ducks over her shoulder for the reception, all in a couple of hours.

     And in Midwood Brooklyn, I could assemble supper from fresh produce gathered from one of two gigantic markets, a number of international bakeries and a corner grocery all a half-block walk from my daughter’s apartment. And though the people in the store don’t speak much English, they recognized me and soon knew the products I preferred.

     In my Iowa town, I drive my gas guzzler 20 miles to a big box store where I’m pretty sure nobody will know who I am or what I like.

     After a few days, I came to embrace the colorful clutter that is lower middle class Brooklyn, nothing like the Disneylandish Times Square that pops up when I think of New York City.

     Sometimes it is refreshing to revisit our preconceived notions:

Big cities are unfriendly.

Teenagers are lazy.

Old people are slow.


     Second impressions are becoming my favorite kind.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Autumn's Abundance

By Jeannette Doran

 While every season has its own unique beauty, this time of year
 overwhelms one with splendor. Surrounded by fall's harvest of rich
 color, the taste of pumpkin pie and fresh apples, the gentle warmth of
 wind rustling the orange and red leaves, our lives are enriched with
 the fruit of the seed.

 In beholding the beauty of the tiny seed brought to fruition, we are invited to look at its journey.
Perhaps as tulip and daffodil bulbs are fall-planted in the rich soil, soon to bear the depth of winter's cold, or, as the spring seeds are folded into the earth after the last spring frost awaiting their growth, we develop a longing for God. There is a period of darkness amidst cold dampness before the
 tiny green sprout emerges one morning. This is like our own lives.

 Living in Iowa close to corn fields, this reality is clarified.
 Since this year's floods delayed the spring planting for many farmers,
 once the furrowed fields were neatly sown in long rows, we watched and
 waited for the first sign of green. This did come about after more
 periods of threatening rain storms, hot, humid days and warm sunlight.
 While the corn this year was not as "high as the sky on the fourth of
 July," still a few weeks later we watched vast fields sway in the wind
 like waves of the ocean. Now the tall stalks have turned rusty beige,
 a drying out time before the harvest begins. Some years the farmer
 works day and night to beat the coming frost.

 Our garden has nurtured us these last two months with juicy
 tomatoes, green beans, butternut squash and a wealth of broccoli that
 came from a packet of little seeds. This year, a profusion of colorful
 flowers graced our land; it seemed every corner one turned, we
 delighted in a petite blue cornflower or a bright red rose. Such is
 the beauty of creation. We need only to open our eyes to behold God's
 gifts everyday.

 As we remember the seed's journey, we are reminded of our soul's
 path to deeper delights. We believe in the indwelling of the Blessed
 Trinity. Through God's gifts of gentle awareness of this holy presence
 we desire more. We experience long periods of darkness and emptiness.
 Gradually, we find deep in our being a tiny light and warmth that
 begins to emerge after much waiting. As the psalmist teaches, the Lord
 delights in our waiting in love. Our hunger for God grows in the
 dark, and we come to understand that, after long spaces of solitude
 with quiet prayer, we will come to delight in God's holy presence and
 will learn to carry this with us into our daily lives. As the earthly
 seed comes to fruition in the soil's depth, so our spiritual growth is
 nurtured in the night. St. John of the Cross writes to us of our
 spiritual fruition, with this attentive waiting, in this stanza of his poem, The Dark Night:
"O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
The Lover with His beloved,
Transforming the beloved in her Lover."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


By Sharon Wilhite

How can some bloggers write epistles with deep spiritual insights accompanied by tasteful photos and links to related websites EVERYDAY?!!! Why can't I also blog prolifically? Why can't I even blog in a timely manner at least once a month? Here are some excuses - I mean REASONS: (get the beat going first!)
My drain had a clog,
I had to walk my dog,
Too much fog (as in brain),
Time to butcher the hog,
Went out for a jog,
Slept like a log,
Oh, I'm down, down, down in the blog bog! 
(oh, yeah)
Well, enough of the "Blog Bog Blues." I am always telling my children, "Don't make an excuse, make an EFFORT."
Time to make time for some serious writing effort not some sorry excuses.