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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Please Pass the Planner…

By Robin J. Steinweg
…because I can’t get enough. Yes, I’m referring to Thanksgiving. No, I’m not talking turkey. I’m talking family. I can’t get enough of family. The catching up with those who live far, the chatter of younger ones, the smiles of older ones, the bulging sides (of the house, not the feasting visitors), Grandma’s ready wit, cousin antics, sibling jibes, Grandpa’s horse-back rides--even Uncle’s groan-worthy puns. Can’t get enough.

Every time we gather as a family, someone says, “We should do this more often.” Everyone nods, everyone agrees. “Someone” is right. It’s important. It may not be urgent, but it is important.

For the next family feast, I’ll ask each person to bring something. Not food. I’ll ask them to bring their planners. We’ll get a date on the calendar and make it a priority. There may be those whose work schedule or vacation won’t cooperate—but maybe they’ll make it next time, or the time after. Forget all the objections; I want to see a date on the calendar! The days are too precious—the people are too precious—to wait a year.

Please pass the planner!

Friday, November 25, 2011

"Do Unto Others" Even on Black Friday

By Shelly Akins

The holidays have now officially started. Tomorrow people will crowd the malls and fight each other for big screen TVs and some random toy that their child has to have. When I heard that some stores were starting their sales at midnight, my first thoughts were not of the sales or of the deals that stores are offering. Rather, I’m thinking about those people who have to work all night trying to keep mothers from killing each other over a game. Those people need to be mentioned in our daily prayers from now until after the first of the year. They don’t get paid enough to put up with someone screaming at them at 2 a.m. on Black Friday about why there are no more 62 inch plasma TVs left on the shelf.

I must admit that I have never gone and camped out and waited for sales. As a result, I’ve probably spent more money than I could have for Christmas presents. I did accidently go to Wal-Mart once on the afternoon of Black Friday to pick up something like toilet paper. People had been waiting in the layaway line for four hours. FOUR HOURS to put something on hold that they don’t have the money to buy. Think about that.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to shop. My mom and I have been known to spend hours in the same store. I find shopping cathartic. There’s something simple in getting something new, especially if it’s something that you’ve saved for or have been looking for a long time.

Christmas shopping is different. There’s pressure with Christmas shopping. There’s a deadline. There’s things that have to be done and bought and wrapped and shipped and opened and put away. There’s the endless lists and hoping that you’re getting the right thing and wondering if $20 is enough to spend on your mother’s cousin’s best friend’s daughter who always seems to show up unannounced Christmas afternoon.

The meaning of the season is lost in all the pushing and shoving. I know that Advent is the time to wait and prepare for the coming Christ, but it’s more than that. It’s time to spend with family and friends, eating, laughing, catching up. It should be more about a few perfect moments than about how much money we spend and who wins the retail wars.

So, over the next few weeks when you’re out and about, tired, trying to cross everything off your list, remember those who are working in retail helping you find tie for Uncle Rick or standing at the register listening to Jingle Bells for the 4,563rd time today. It’s not their fault the line is long or that someone ran over your foot with a cart, or that there are no more copies of The Help on Blu Ray. Smile, thank them and let them know you empathize with them. And say a little prayer for them when that mother with the out of control kids starts screaming behind you.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


By Nerola (Rolie) Grady

As the holidays draw near, my brain is filled with many loose end thoughts. Does anyone want to volunteer as a human Personal Reminder?  I didn’t think so.  To relieve the pressure, I’m going to share some observations about life on Lombard Street.

-Tomorrow I’ll travel to my home town for the funeral of a dear family friend, Carol “Toots” Youngwirth.   Toots was a delightful lady.  Creativity was her daily bread and butter.  One neighbor recalled how she made a purse out of potato chip bags.

 Toots and Johnny, her husband, had six kids and several pets to round out their family.  I’ll share two of their pet stories.  There was Dorothy, the white duck, who injured her leg and couldn’t walk.  Rather than get rid of her, Toots and Johnny brought her to the town doctor (my father). “Doc, see what you can do.  Dorothy needs help!”  Dad didn’t usually treat  animals, but he agreed  Dorothy was in a bad way.  While they held her beak shut, Dad put a splint on Dorothy’s leg.  She  got well and lived to waddle for many more years.

The next story is about Happy, their white Scotty dog.  He held center stage until his death  a year ago in January.  Since the backyard was frozen, they decided to delay Happy’s funeral until the spring.  Happy was stored in a chest freezer in the garage.  Johnny built a casket out of fine walnut, and a vault was purchased from the local funeral home.

In May, Toots planned a special ceremony  on Mother’s Day.  About 35 people came, along with ten of Happy’s doggy friends.  Of course, there was a viewing.  Then Dawn, their daughter, played “How Much Is That Doggy In the Window” on her accordion.  Several readings were also given before Toots served a luncheon for the visitors.

There are no words for good memories.  They are just part of life’s fabric.  Those moments weave together a melody of love that is sweet to hear.
-A couple funnies from my Facebook page:
“I’m half Greek and half German.  I’m so upset with myself and am tired of bailing myself out.”  Tina Fey

“Persistence, thy name is small children.  If Guantanamo Bay had used 2-yr-olds to question suspects, they could close the prison down in no time flat.”  (Susan Stanley, my niece)
A Thanksgiving Prayer
Father, thank You there is too much to remember.  Thank You for moments of seeing Your fingerprints on each day,  the beauty of human love, adventures in Your kingdom, and the awareness that You are MORE than enough for whatever I need.  Amen.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pray Like You Are Happy

By Lori Boruff

“Don't pray like you're sad, pray like you're happy.”

These are words of wisdom from my four year old grandson to his daddy as they pray before bedtime.

I'm imagining myself in his tiny tot shoes or should I say Buzz Lightyear jammies to understand what he heard daddy say.

Was it the words or tone of voice prompting that observation from a preschooler? Certainly quiet, reverent prayers before bed could sound cheerless but have great meaning. But I wonder if God ever wants to say Child, don't pray like you're sad, pray like you're happy!

I'm sending the challenge to all my praying friends to belt out prayers of gratitude with verve and vigor. Yes, God does know the depths of joy in your heart, but today if you are happy and you know it shout Amen!

Have a truly Happy Thanksgiving!

Hallelujah! Thank God! Pray to him by name! Tell everyone you meet what he has done!

Sing him songs, belt out hymns, translate his wonders into music!

Honor his holy name with Hallelujahs, you who seek God.

Psalm 105:1 The Message

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thoughts on Autumn Leaves...and Life

By Sharon Wilhite

How does a leaf
decide to fall?
Loosening its grasp
on the branch
That has been
its security
For almost three seasons,
Desperately plunging or gracefully descending.
To join other
fallen comrades
In a glorious profusion
of color
at the base of the tree,
Or to be blown by the wind
                                       far and wide                        
across yards and fields,
To places previously viewed
solely from the safety
of the branch.
Cling tightly
Let go?
Exhilarating freedom
Destructive folly?

Falling Leaves. . .

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:"
(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Thursday, November 10, 2011


By Michael Elmore

Walk through the doors of any Wal-Mart, Kmart, J. C. Penney’s or Sears today and you will see the sparkle of bright decorations adorning evergreen trees, hear the cacophony of Christmas music filling the air and have your eyes drawn to row upon row, shelf upon shelf of holiday gifts.  Close by, anxious managers will be scurrying about impatiently waiting for them to be purchased.

In the world of marketing and sales, a season devoid of profits extends between October 31st – Halloween, and December 25th - Christmas Day. It is called Thanksgiving. In the hubbub and rush of business plans and marketing ploys one of the greatest holidays of American culture has nearly vanished. In the world of cash registers dinging and carolers singing something of great significance has become lost. In some peculiar way we have lost not only the meaning of Thanksgiving but virtually the existence of the holiday itself.

In Psalm 136: 1 the Bible instructs us to “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.” In this single verse, God’s Word sets forth an imperative to be thankful. The etymology of the Old English word “thankful” means to be “thinkful”.  Being “thinkful” and remembering the first celebration of Thanksgiving is an important way to awaken our slumbering spirit of thankfulness. Perhaps if we remember the religious, cultural and historical roots of Thanksgiving Day, we can re-instill a spirit of thankfulness within our thankless hearts.

Thanksgiving at Plymouth

In September 1620, a small ship called the Mayflower left Plymouth, England, carrying 102 passengers—an assortment of religious separatists seeking a new home where they could freely practice their faith. After a treacherous and uncomfortable crossing that lasted 66 days, they dropped anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, far north of their intended destination at the mouth of the Hudson River. One month later, the Mayflower crossed Massachusetts Bay, where the Pilgrims, as they are now commonly known, began the work of establishing a village at Plymouth.

Throughout that first brutal winter, most of the colonists remained on board the ship, where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and outbreaks of contagious disease. Only half of the Mayflower’s original passengers and crew lived to see their first New England spring. In March, the remaining settlers moved ashore, where they received an astonishing visit from an Abenaki Indian who greeted them in English. Several days later, he returned with another Native American, Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe who had been kidnapped by an English sea captain and sold into slavery before escaping to London and returning to his homeland.

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first harvest proved successful, Governor William Bradford organized a celebratory feast and invited a group of the fledgling colony’s Native American allies, including the Wampanoag chief Massasoit. This day is remembered as American’s “First Thanksgiving”. 1  It is astonishing to think that after the deaths of 63 of the original Pilgrim party, these God-honoring people remembered to be thankful.

Familiar story isn’t it? Although that first Thanksgiving is an archetypical story of our American way of life it is in danger of being forgotten between two other more popular, profit-producing holidays.

It’s good to be reminded to be thankful at least once a year. So in the Spirit of the holiday, I ask that in the middle of family, feasting and football games, please take a moment and remind your children and your children’s children why this holiday is so important to us. I encourage you at the Thanksgiving table to turn yours eyes toward heaven, “from where our help comes” and give thanks to God “for his love endures forever”. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be just another holiday; it can once again become sacred to all.

1 (Accessed November 9, 2011)

2  Please watch Chris Tomlin’s video “His Love Endures forever” at this link to further inspire a spirit of thankfulness in your heart.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Birthday to YOU, TGBA*

By Gail P. Smith
One year ago on today, November 9, we officially launched the QCCWC** blog.  We named it
*“The Great Blog Adventure.”

We began with 16 writers (14 women and 2 men), a few seasoned professionals, some novice bloggers/writers and lots of us somewhere inbetween.  Along the way we’ve lost and gained bloggers and we miss those currently "on hiatus."  As of today we are 14 writers strong, each contributing once or twice every two months. We publish twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  At least that’s the goal, and most of the time we make it.

Among our writers we have a resident baseball expert, several photographers, a writer’s group leader, homemakers, a reporter and a Sister with a capital “S.”  To read more about each of our talented bloggers click on “The Great Blog Adventures/Contributing Writers” tab above.

Over the past twelve months we’ve blogged about our families, jobs, pets and other less welcome critters who've invaded our homes.   We’ve written about wise men, Thanksgiving, Psalms and Proverbs, tombstones, writers block, tests, beauty, swimsuits and spam.  We’ve confessed mistakes and shared blessings, talked about growth, writing and even reality TV. 

At least one of us had a book published this year and I think it may be more.  (In fact, if any of our bloggers were published anywhere else besides TGBA this year, please comment so we can celebrate with you.) 

Best of all, we shared our relationships with the Lord, how we seek Him, how we struggle and what He’s taught us.  What a blessing it's been to read how God worked in each individual life.

As as far as "stats" go,  our page has had 38 views today (11-8-11), 25 yesterday, 592 last month, and 5,185 views for the past year.  We have 18 followers (are YOU following us yet?) and our readers represent ten countries and 4 continents.  (So if you know anyone in South America, Africa or Antarctica, please invite them to take a look!)

We’ve had 228 comments on 103 posts, and we are so grateful for each person who has taken the time to read and comment on our writing.  You have encouraged us by letting us know that someone took the time to read what we had to say. 

As we celebrate this milestone for TGAB, we are most grateful for YOU, the person sitting at your computer, reading this post, right now, today.  Without you readers bloggers would be nothing and so we want to say thank to each person who has visited this blog in the past year. 

We hope this year that you have been entertained, informed, uplifted, amused, touched, encouraged or inspired by something you have read here.  Please come back soon and invite a friend. 

At the top of our blog are these words “Read~Write~Learn~Share~Trust.” That is what we've attempted to do for the past 365 days.  Thanks for joining us.

So Happy Birthday to YOU,
Great Blog Adventurers,
and many happy returns.

** Quad-Cities' Christian Writers Conference

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Persistence Rules

By Kathryn Lang

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence." I grew up with this saying on my wall. The only way I would ever reach the goals I set for my life would be if I continued to do what needed to be done until I got there.

Building a Foundation of Persistence

- Believe it. "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are right." Henry Ford. I have to get to the point where the goal that I have for my life is settled deep in my knower.

- Support it. Find people that will believe with you, push you to continue when you want to stop and will carry you when all else fails. The right support can be all the difference.

- Say it. The things you say will be the things you believe. Create "I am" and "I will" statements that will drive you in the direction that you desire.

I set a goal of 6,000 words a few months back and made it - one day. The next day, tornadoes tore through my community and flipped my world upside down. That chaos has been a great excuse for not even attempting my goals, much less reaching them.

The other morning I woke up and realized that I was supposed to be writing. Excuses would always be available, but unless I take the action to make my dreams a reality they will continue to only be dreams.

November is National Novel Writing Month. The challenge to write 1667 words each day provided the motivation to take on my goals once again. Meeting with other writers and writing groups, in person and online, has provided the inspiration to let the words flow.  And making that one statement to my husband, "I am supposed to be writing," reminded me again that the gift and passion I have for words will only get me to my goals if I make the effort to write.

Believe that you are going to reach your goal. Find people that will support and encourage you on your journey. And say the words over and over until you are unable to say anything else.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


By Marvin Ferguson

As the seasons moved along I knew November was here once again when I saw the decorations in Lincoln Elementary School.
Pictures of turkeys in different postures, colors, and plumes, drew our attention as we walked through the halls. And then there were the endless stories the teachers read about the pilgrims. Boring! But what else was there to celebrate about at this time of the year?

Oh yes. I can still hear that favorite tune: Over the river to grandmother's house we go... I knew it so well that I could sing it in my sleep.

As our family, usually a dozen people or so, gathered around the table, our eyes bulged looking at the selection—mashed potatoes smothered in gravy, sweet potatoes, turkey and dressing, carrots, peas, cranberry sauce, and hot dinner rolls, not to mention a red jell-o with mixed fruit inside. There was enough to make our eyes water just thinking about it. And for dessert there were a variety of pies—apple, butterscotch, blueberry, and pumpkin. No body went hungry in our house.

During lots of chatter we shared a blessing or two bestowed upon us from the past year.

Thanksgiving! Yes! It was a time to be grateful for good health, a job, friends, and so much more.

Thanksgiving? Is there a doubt? The tragedy about thanksgiving is that we often forget and take our many blessings for granted.

God has given me so much to be thankful for. And as I reflect over this past year, most of all, I'm thankful for Jesus.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody, and I hope yours is filled with many rich blessings.