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

Monday, February 27, 2012

Leapin' Leap Year!

By Gail P. Smith

“Time is the currency of the new millennium,” or so I read back in 1999.  (Wow, that seems so long ago, now.)  If that is true, then I have a gift beyond measure for you this week, something not even Warren Buffet can buy.  It’s the gift of time.

This Wednesday only, ladies and gents,   I’ve been authorized by Pope Gregory XIII to offer you the extremely rare and incredibly precious gift of 24 extra hours to your week! I’ve heard all you moaners and groaners out there carrying on about how you NEVER have enough time, and so this week I’m presenting you with entire day, free of charge, to get those procrastinated tasks done.  But . . . maybe that’s not what you’d do with an extra day.

So I want to know—what will YOU do with this “extra” day that’s been added to your life?

Now I know that most of us have obligations that don’t recognize that of all days, Leap Year Day should be a holiday and we should be left to our own devices.  I’m afraid that in order for  most of us to enjoy this day to the fullest we will have to take a trip to another nation—the imagine-nation.  It’s a great place where we can just take that day and use it any way we want.  How will you use your extra day in imagination land?  Go skiing, fly to Paris or the moon, or visit Disneyland or Hogwarts?  The only limit to your journey is your own creativity.

Maybe you’re lucky enough to actually be able to choose what you want to do this February 29.  What’s your plan?  I sincerely hope you don’t intend to let this valuable and one time (every four years) gift go unwrapped.  Grab this Wednesday, tear the paper off that puppy and DO something out of the ordinary.  A day like this doesn’t come around every week, month or year, you know.   Create your own memory by doing something, (anything) special or silly or sweet or even daring, (like swimsuit shopping, --no, that’s TOO daring!)

I am posting this on Monday to give you plenty of time to plan what you’ll be doing with your “plus one” day.  Read a book, bake a pie, call a friend, take a nap (that's for the mommies reading this,) go skinny-dipping or sky-diving. Or just take a walk in the park.  Leap day is your gift.  It’s up to you what you’ll do with it. 

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to take a moment to thank the Creator of Time for this precious present not only of today, but of every day of your life.  When you think about it, isn’t every day a gift of love to each of us to use as we choose? 

 Thank you, Lord for the gift of an “extra” day this week.  May we use it in a way that makes you smile.  Amen
Thanks to for the perfect picture!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


By Jeannetter Doran

Winter comes with a deep sleep of the land when all possibility of life seems bleak and barren. Darkness and cold settle over all. Bare branches give no hope of future growth. Yet soon we see how lovingly the gentle snow blankets the fields, giving needed protection. Later we watch melting snow providing the wanted water. As the necessary winter of the land prepares for the future abundance our soul’s fruition depends on its own winters.
In our soul’s winter it’s a time of solitude and waiting, a time of prayer. Yes, God is hidden in the darkness but the stars do shine more the darker the sky. Our winters can be long and intense. Just as the land’s bleakness and sleep seem long and severe so, too in our soul this is felt. In our heart we seem to find no joy or meaning. It appears to be a time of emptiness, and absence. This is also a precious time for secret soul growth when one nurtures the seeds of hope and faith. Holding on in the darkness and nothingness we believe God is with us and will carry us through our winter to the joys of a heavenly spring. We grasp with all our hearts our God, who is near in the dark. We trust and believe we will never be abandoned but someday will hear our Beloved call our name with great tenderness. Our winters are times when we learn to live in the light of faith while feeling surrounded by darkness. How necessary it is to wait in our spiritual journey, to wait in silence, to try to turn off all external stimuli and search with all one’s being for interior silence. To penetrate into the silence as the seed enters the womb of the soil. As we come to listen to and to taste the silence we find rest in the silence and becoming more enfolded in the silence a light will shine from our innermost being. This light will eventually radiate out to all about us as the spring blossoms diffuse their delicate fragrance. May we all know the vast beauty of this radiant fragrance.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Brain—Writers’ Plight

By Kristi Paxton

Book Brain. I heard an NPR discussion of a so-called syndrome that reportedly plagues writers everywhere. (Perhaps it happens when a brain becomes so occupied writing a book, that it’s simply too exhausted for everyday use) As I recall, writers often stop, mid-conversation, and can’t bring the proper common word to their tongues. Then they panic, and the word loss gets worse. Some smart person named the malady “Book Brain.”

Before I knew about “Book Brain,” I had already named it “Oversimplifying.”  When at a word loss, every container I tried to name became a “bucket.”  When I couldn’t bring “hopper” or “Crockpot” or “reservoir” or “shot glass” to my lips, I just sheepishly used the word “bucket,” and then made a lame joke about it. “Oh, and dinner is in the bucket next to the sink.”
The day I reported my “Book Brain” discovery to our writers’ group, they emitted a collective sigh of relief, all of them having kept a secret from their family and friends, of their sudden onset of Alzheimer’s or senility or oversimplification. We shared hilarious stories of words that got away at inopportune moments—what name to call a sister-in-law, a mailbox or a pair of capris.

Apparently, “Book Brain” disappears when a writer sits down at a computer or a notebook. Somehow a writer’s brain magically bypasses the verbal part of the brain and translates into black-on-white the perfect word. Brain to paper, easy-peasy. Brain to tongue, not so much.

Frankly, I’m thankful for my, uh, er—what do you call it—Book Brain.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Have you heard?

By Helen Knueven

There is a house that has church services in Glen Ellyn, IL.  It wasn't a one-time event; either.  It has been going on for over a decade.   The picture of the house was on the front page of the Glen Ellyn News.  Can you believe it?  People were assembling in their house with others who were of like mind.  They were not just talking or having a nice dinner, either.  Somehow they had the nerve to pray!  If you don't believe me, it was in the paper as if some covert operation was taking place.   People in a house - praying. 

After a government worker caught wind of it, they were told they needed a permit.  They complied with the government and sought a permit but still seems to be a topic of debate.  It is clearly a violation of the constitution to me, for the government to get involved with ‘the right to assemble’.  It is also an ironic twist on the interpretation of separation of church and state.

I often read of government intervention to prayer meetings in China and how this agitates the government.  You can read for yourself about in the Voice of the Martyrs magazine.

But in the last few years you can read articles cropping up in America that tries to can prayer meetings through zoning ordinances and religious harrasment laws. 

But I think there is a lot of good news here anyway.

I have a feeling they were not just praying for their houses to sell, their bosses to get off their backs, or that they woud have a more fulfilling job. No, I don't think that self centered prayers get too much attention.  I suspect they were praying for the salvation of souls and because of the power coming from those kind of prayers, it was felt within the community.

 Have you ever wondered if your little prayer made a difference?

There is a government higher than any one on this earth - and we can reach the One in charge!  He, who died for us, in front of a multitude, now sits on a throne.  Our prayers are welcome; especially when we want to see His kingdom come here on earth.  There is a promise attached with praying in secret - an open reward.

 However we may need to stretch our idea of that word.  Some have been counted worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus.

 Matthew 6:6  But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Ministry of Accepting Myself

By Brenda Lysak

I did everyone a favor by hating myself. This attitude gave voice to apologetic self depreciating remarks, a cover up. The reality of me scared me.  I thought I was looking after the problem so I wouldn’t be a bother to anyone. I thought rejecting me was a motivating exfoliating punishment. Strangely I was trying to protect myself. I thought if I rejected me, no one else would.

Unfortunately, or happily, not accepting myself turned out to be evil.  The hatred spilled out all around me.  Imagine, the decisions I made during that time!  If I could rewrite my story, what different caring thoughtful exciting decisions might I have made on my behalf?

About 16 years ago awhile reading and rereading Romans chapters 1-6 every day for 30 or more days not only was I radically born again but also experienced a revelation about the evil of hating myself. I did an emotional U-turn.  I had to use my mustard size faith to avoid the plunging emotions of self hatred that had become my default mechanism. But because my belief system had changed my behavior changed.

A perfect holy God accepts me awhile fully knowing the depths of my depravity. If God loves me who do I think I am to hate myself?! I recognized the evil of prejudice yet I was prejudiced against myself. Of all the people I am responsible for how irresponsible to dislike myself.

I have been on a journey of growing awareness of just how good the Good News is.  How deep, how wide, how high, is God’s love.  I will never forget the day the revelation of God being bigger than my stuff hit me. I could see all of me and smile because I had become aware of who my Savior was.

I sang this song over and over before it hit me. My past, present or future is not the issue, who Jesus is, is all that matters. Jesus, I am resting, resting in the joy of what you are; I am finding out the greatness of your loving heart. You have bid me gaze upon you, and your beauty fills my soul. For by your transforming power you have made me whole. (Jean Pigott, 1845-1882)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Find YOUR Ways to Get Beyond

By Kathryn Lang

Writing for a living can be difficult on many days and worse than pulling a tooth on others. The content may not be something you love or even enjoy, but it is always important to someone. It would be nice if someone could invent a liquid form of "you go girl" for those days when my motivation has burrowed into a hole and refuses to come out.

Take one more step - that is what I keep telling myself. The only way I can arrive at my destination is if I continue to move towards that destination. It is just when the energy wanes and the inspiration dissipates, all I want to do is stay in bed (except to get out and soak in a hot bath). The last thing I want to do is push at something that seems more likely to never happen.

Yes, even a woman that lives in a world of rainbows and lollipops can have her down days.

The difference between a life of success and one of failure lies in a desire that will find some way to get those moments and days of "nothing is going right" and get back into the track of "everything is possible."

Develop YOUR Ways

1. Get some motivation music. It does not have to motivate anyone but you - so whatever makes you want to dance, sing or go sliding through your house in your underwear and white tee shirt is the right choice for you.

2. Build a cheerleading squad. There will be days when you will not be able to find the energy on your own. It may be that the car has stalled in the intersection and it just refuses to budge. It is important to have someone that will get out with you and push - or that will do all the pushing while you try and steer.

3. Accomplish something. A small task, checked off and moved past, can lead to another small task being overcome. Sometimes these small accomplishments can drive the desire to see the mountain as a mole hill and begin climbing again.

4. Create a fall back plan. It is not about retreating, but about taking the time to regroup, reorganize and redesign. Set up a system that gives you the opportunity to recharge when you are stumbling around for hope.

There will be days! Develop some keys to help you push beyond the struggles and begin moving forward to the success that you desire in your writing career.

Kathryn Lang wants to share words of encouragement and inspriation with you. Visit her website to find her blog posts and book links or just to connect.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wait Land

By Lisa Lickel

February is the thinnest month, ebbs
Love and moon-tide, waves of floods of
Observances for presidents no longer in
Office, of silent human trains,
Whispering souls still long
For dignity across the line.
Candied hearts and cherry pie.
Reach upward, sleepy bulb,
Breach loam for ice blue light.
Six weeks more of steamy glasses and lacy breath.
Winter wanes at month's end, waxing March feeds streams
Breaking ice cover, swirling snails like pebbles along bottoms.
The squill shoot blue spikes through the snow.
Popple buds swell, pregnant, red on whispy branches,
While the oak will not give up its dead
A special surprise comes from Lisa this month--she is offering a
copy of The Gold Standard, a print version of my cozy mystery,
to the first person who can correctly identify all the allusions in the poem.     If you think you have the answer, leave a comment below, along and information on how we can reach you. Have fun!

Please note, this is NOT the give-away book, but Lisa's latest, due out in April.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

She’s only two. This is the tip of the iceberg.

By Charis Seeley
My husband and I have a two year old daughter. Being a Mommy has been a real learning experience. Here are 10 things I’ve learned since becoming a mother—

All of the songs in ‘Dora: The Explorer’.

However much time it took go somewhere or do something without a child, double it.

Four hours of sleep is more than adequate if I have enough coffee.

How to do everything one handed.

And how to do most things with an elbow because my hands are occupied.

How to get in and out of a grocery store, with enough food for a week, in less than 20 minutes.

If we have to do an outfit change twice in one day, I call it a good day.

If I put brand new clothes on her, on way or another, she’ll stain them. Every. Single. Time.

In an average day, I play the roles of wife, writer, mother, T-Rex, pony, monster, Queen, and swordfighter.

When I’ve prayed for patience, God didn’t drop some on me and suddenly make me a better mom. I’ve asked, and He continues to provide opportunities for me to grow and learn how to love like He loves us.