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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Focusing in an ADHD World:

By Shelly Akins

There’s a half-finished puzzle on my dining room table. Some of my Christmas decorations are still up on the high shelf. I’ve got a first draft of a novel in the drawer waiting for revisions. I’ve got countless sewing and craft projects in various states of completion stuffed in totes and boxes.

I used to pride myself on being the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. But now, I just find it frustrating. I look at all those unfinished things as minor failures. I jump from one thing to the next to the next just because it’s new and shiny. Then I get bored and move on without finishing it and seeing it through to the end.

I told my husband the other day that I felt like the Little Dutch Boy with all my fingers stuck in the holes in the dam. The problem is, I’m running out of fingers. There’s always one more thing, one more demand on my time, one more five minute thing that someone needs me to do.

Enough.

I’ve spent the last year of my life doing some soul searching and figuring out what it is I want to do and be. I’ve lost focus and drive. I’ve lost my purpose and goals. I’ve quit too many things. What really makes me happy? I didn’t have an answer for that question. I still don’t. But I know that too many projects stresses me out. I don’t have time to really concentrate on the things that make me happy. Heck, I don’t even have time to do the laundry.

So I’m focusing, narrowing my lens to a few things. This means making some sacrifices: I’m dropping out of the cast of a play, I’m cutting back on my writing obligations, I’m not taking as many sub jobs. But it also means looking at the important things: walking my son to and from school, quilting on Tuesdays, going to lunch with friends, focusing on my consulting business. These are things that make me happy. The other stuff (as much as I love those things) are just getting in the way.

What makes you happy? What distractions are getting in your way? How can you move those things out of the way and continue on your journey toward happiness?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Still Life

By Rolie Grady

Here is something for those who see the world at a slightly different angle.  Since I houseclean for a living, I have to be aware of my surroundings….to notice the way a room is laid out, and plan my work strategy without disturbing it’s essence.

  Every family is unique.  Some ladies are very particular about their knick knacks and pictures.  Others live in casual disarray and they welcome me with open arms each week.  As I dust and vacuum,  I think about the personal expressions being made. 

 For example, one house’s d├ęcor is early colonial American. There are times when everyone is gone on my cleaning day.  It’s nice to take a final walk through the house after the work is done.   If I sit quietly,  each room begins to talk,  sharing stories with me.    Homespun wisdom is deeply embedded in roughly hewn tables and chairs.  Authentic New England-built fireplaces are flanked by  kindling and axe cut logs.   Wooden plank floors join a modern kitchen to its older counterpart in the open dining area.

 What can I learn even when people are not present?  Plenty.  Even though the outward forms change, the essential expressions of life – eating, sleeping, working, playing – go on for generations.  And each family leaves it’s mark for others to observe, whether in this time and place or somewhere down the road.

 What do I want to say to others who visit my home?  What do I need to hear from my surroundings?  Probably the same wisdom that has been passed on to me:  Saturate your life with love of God and family.  Cling tightly to laughter, peace, and joy.  Let the rest pass through your fingers. 

 At the end of the day, busyness fades and our spirits need nourishment.  Thankfully it can be found where it’s always been.   In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.  Be still and know that I am God.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Good Increase

By Robin Steinweg

Here is a list of Things that Expand, Grow or Multiply:

§         Interest on an unpaid loan (a bad increase)
§         Yeast in warm conditions (good or bad, depends on where the yeast is growing)
§         Bunnies in all conditions (bad unless it’s a 4H project or you are a bunny)

 §         Harmful bacteria in a body (a bad increase)
§         Dirty dishes on the counter (a sad increase)
§         Baking soda and vinegar (a volatile increase)

§         One’s waistline as one ages (a battle-worthy increase)
§         Rumors (a bad increase)
§         The influence of our words (a sure thing, for better or for     worse)

 The last is not the least! Here are a few quotes about words:

Words are the most powerful thing in the universe… Words are containers. They contain faith, or fear, and they produce after their kind.” –Charles Capps


 “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” –Proverbs 15:23 (ESV)

“A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.” –Emily Dickinson

If my words have such power and impact, I want them to be good words, encouraging words. Let the following good words be my prayer:


“Take control of what I say, O LORD, and guard my lips” (Psalm 141:3 NLT).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Precious Life-Giving Words

By Lori Boruff

29 year old Christen Ringle went home to be with Jesus on Jan.9, 2012. Her husband and two babies have been left with her precious life-giving words written on her November 1, 2011 blog. What message will you leave behind for your loved ones, families and strangers? What is your legacy? What do you believe?

Do you have the hope of Jesus? Stop. Reflect. Cherish these precious life-giving words written in the midst of the valley. You never know when your road will lead you there.
Christen Ringle Blog post on November 1, 2011.

In the Valley

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runneth over.

I need You more that ever before. Lord knows, as we begin November, I rely so heavily upon His mercy and His grace. For since as long as I can remember, I've suffered headaches. Migraines usually at least once a month. This past month it was 5 or 6. I saw a doctor who would like to put me on a daily med that I am not comfortable with. I've been asking for discernment and as far as I can come up with, I should not take the prescribed medication. Now, I've stood for healing in the past. Many people have fought this battle on their knees on my behalf. But no. I'm not discouraged. God is a good God. He is faithful. He's all that I want. I do desire healing. I believe I will be completely delivered from this illness, but even if I'm not. God is good. You know, I get really weary of saints proclaiming the goodness of the Lord only when circumstances turn out as they would like. You know that even if nothing went "right" and if I am never delivered from migraines, He is good. He is faithful and He is worthy of all praise.

I know His ways are higher than mine. His thoughts are far beyond my own. I trust in Him and allow His purposes to be fulfilled in my life. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all of my days. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Posted 1st November 2011 by Christen Ringle

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cure for Cabin Fever?

By Sharon Wilhite

With each passsing year, January becomes a harder month to endure. I don't do well anymore with long, dark days, freezing temperatures, winter driving, and cooped up children. (Please, someone, bequeath me a beach front home in Florida!!!) To take my mind off January's chill, here are some of my favorite pictures from glorious summer to share.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Avoiding the Squirrels

By Kathryn Lang
 
The more I try to focus on what I know to do the more distractions pop up and demand my attention. I try to ignore them, but they run around me in circles making my head spin. The harder I focus the more determined those stupid squirrels become. I can hear them barking at my heels right now.
 
Chasing squirrels became my expression for choosing the distractions over the things I knew to do. The image came from the movie, "Up" (which I highly recommend if you have not seen it). Squirrels are those things in life that distract me from taking the steps that I know I am supposed to take. These are those things that lead me off track or in so many circles that I end up wondering which way is up.
 
I have gotten so good at chasing squirrels that I thought I would share the best ways to make squirrel chasing part of your normal routine.
 
Tips for Squirrel Chasing
 
1. Never look before you leap - just jump right after the noise or movement. Stop everything that you know to do to investigate that mysterious crinkle in the corner. Change your direction to look into that illusion of activity.
 
2. Never talk to someone who has been there and done that - because I know what is best for MY life so why bother talking to someone else? I just need to follow my gut, my heart or my instinct and let it lead me to the prize.
 
3. Never use logic when emotions can handle the situation - it sounds like a squirrel and there is movement so it must be a squirrel (even if I am in an airplane 30,000 feet in the air).
 
4. Never stick to the plan - no matter how detailed or specific the design, it can always be improved by diverting time, energy and effort into chasing that furry tailed rascal.
 
5. Never learn from your own mistakes - so what if it was just a figment of my imagination last time. This time it HAS to be a squirrel.
 
6. Never let the desire to chase the squirrel be hindered by the need to do what is right - work can wait. Family can wait. The purpose and passion can wait. The only important thing is the squirrel.
 
Getting things done requires doing what needs to be done. I have to learn to refuse to let the squirrels hinder my purpose

Thursday, January 12, 2012

TIME TO RENOVATE

By Marie Tschopp
(welcome back, Marie)

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17 NIV).  

The wood siding needs to be scraped and repainted.  Many shingles on the roof are gone, and the front porch sags.  Still, I wish the turn-of-the-century house I see every day on my way to work was mine.  More than its imperfections, I notice its character.  Bric-a-brac trim, leaded-glass windows, alcoves, and a large gabled roof adorn the old place.  I long to restore the property to its original glory. 

When God looks at people, I think he feels the way I feel about this house.  He knows our imperfections, but, in the midst of our brokenness, he sees a child made in his image. 

God never places a “This Property is Condemned” sign on anyone.  Instead, he offers restoration and renovation.  He’s already purchased us by paying the ultimate price of his son.  He simply waits to be given the key.  

Thank you, Father, for not seeing me as the world sees me, but for seeing me as the showplace you created me to be.  May I never lose sight of your great love and sacrifice for me. 

Author’s Note:  When God begins a restoration project, he does not use a wrecking ball.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What's New???

By Marvin Ferguson


There is something to be said about the human psyche that turns people on when they think about something new. Suddenly, it arouses their attention with raised eyebrows.


When family and friends gather around the Christmas tree, curious eyes scan the many decorated boxes. And surely, minds are racing attempting to guess their content.


New cars dazzled the show room beneath the bright lights. Immediately, dad raised the hood to examine the engine while mom scanned the dashboard. And where are the kids? Already, little Tommy, Jimmy, and Alice are bouncing around on the back seat.


When Maggie stepped into the church for the Christmas Eve service, immediately, everybody saw her new hairdo. Whispers echoed off the walls competing with the congregation singing old familiar Christmas carols.


And so the lists of new things goes on that livens up the atmosphere.


A twelve-year-old boy grew up in a Christian home. One summer day he lined up with all the other kids to board a Greyhound Bus behind the church. Then it was off to church camp for some fun and excitement.


Following cabin devotions on the first night he was restless. An experience of fear permeated his entire body and soul. Then, on a cold concrete floor in the men's restroom, while on his knees, he asked Jesus to come into his life.


"I've heard the story many times before in Sunday School," the boy thought. "The story about Nicodemus and his desire for a new life rang out loud and clear. John 3:1-18."


When I got up off my knees I felt like a hundred pound weight had just been lifted up off my shoulders. I had a new perspective about life that was much different than before.


It was an experience that yours truly will never forget. And you asked, "What's New???" The answer: A new life in Jesus that will dazzle anybody's imagination. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Time for Second Chances

By Michael Elmore

Author, Max Lucado shares a great piece of insight in his monthly newsletter that all of us need to take to heart. In case you haven’t read it on Crosswalk.com let me share it with you:

"It was small enough to overlook. Only two words. I know I’d read that passage a hundred times. But I’d never seen it.

But I won’t miss it again. It’s highlighted in yellow and underlined in red. You might want to do the same. Look in Mark, chapter 16. Get your pencil ready and enjoy this jewel in the seventh verse (here it comes). The verse reads like this: 'But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.'

Did you see it? Read it again. (This time I italicized the words.)

'But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.'

Now tell me if that’s not a hidden treasure.

If I might paraphrase the words, 'Don’t stay here, go tell the disciples,' a pause, then a smile, 'and especially tell Peter, that he is going before you to Galilee.'

What a line. It’s as if all of heaven had watched Peter fall—and it’s as if all of heaven wanted to help him back up again. 'Be sure and tell Peter that he’s not left out. Tell him that one failure doesn’t make a flop.'

Whew!

No wonder they call it the gospel of the second chance.

Those who know these types of things say that the Gospel of Mark is really the transcribed notes and dictated thoughts of Peter. If this is true, then it was Peter himself who included these two words! And if these really are his words, I can’t help but imagine that the old fisherman had to brush away a tear and swallow a lump when he got to this point in the story.

It’s not every day that you get a second chance. Peter must have known that. The next time he saw Jesus, he got so excited that he barely got his britches on before he jumped into the cold water of the Sea of Galilee. It was also enough, so they say, to cause this backwoods Galilean to carry the gospel of the second chance all the way to Rome where they killed him. If you’ve ever wondered what would cause a man to be willing to be crucified upside down, maybe now you know.

It’s not every day that you find someone who will give you a second chance—much less someone who will give you a second chance every day.

But in Jesus, Peter found both."

I love Max Lucado’s explanation of Mark 16 its excellent. “The God of the second chance”. God knows that we all need one. Peter is a prime example. So are others. I think of John Mark in Acts. After he left Paul as they travelled together, Paul refused to travel with him so violently that he and Barnabas split up. Later, Paul gives John Mark a second chance to join with him in his travels and ministry Its interesting to note that John Mark, a "second chance guy,"  was the one who Peter dictated the Gospel of Mark to. I think John Mark understood Peter’s experience.  

“Second chances” are something God does in our lives all the time. The Bible is full of “second chance stories and we need them. Perhaps this New Year’s time you have found your relationship with Jesus to be a little out of sync . . . maybe more out of sync then you’d like to admit. Remember Peter wasn’t unique. If you find yourself needing a second chance this New Year’s season, open up your heart and receive the Christ afresh. Jesus tells us that “he stands at the door of our hearts knocking” (Rev. 3:20). Open the door let him in and the joy of second chances can be yours.