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

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


By Sharon Wilhite

The other day I saw a sign that advertised "Unlimited Zumba, only $32 per month!" My first thought was, "Wow! How much zumba could one do in a month, and would it be worth $32?" My second thought was, "Just think of the many 'unlimited' benefits God promises His children - benefits worth more than any amount of money could buy. Here would be God's advertisement: "UNLIMITED BENEFITS! FREE UPON JOINING!" (read your Bible or go to your local church for details)

FREE membership! (Rom.5:18 - "...even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men...")

FREE benefits:

Unlimited Mercy (Psalm 23:6 - "Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life...")

Unlimited Grace (Romans 3:24 - "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.")

Unlimited Forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7 - "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.")

Unlimited Love (Romans 8:35-39 - "...neither death, nor life...nor height, nor depth...shall be able to separate us from the love of God...")

Unlimited Joy (John 15:11 - "These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and your joy might be full.")

Unlimited Peace (John 14:27 - "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you...:)

Unlimited Blessings (Proverbs 10:22 - "The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it.")

Unlimited Life (John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.")

Remember, membership is FREE upon joining. It costs you nothing - it cost Jesus EVERYTHING! (Hebrews 12:2)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Filling Inner Emptiness

By Michael Elmore

People live such utterly meaningless lives. Victor Frankel, a survivor of the Nazi Concentration Camps wrote a book entitled, “Man’s Search for Meaning.” In it, Frankel suggests that the reason he survived the Concentration Camps while multiples of tens of thousands didn’t was because he found a sense of meaning that gave him a sense of purpose that kept his hopes and himself alive.

It is my belief that most of us walk around with huge gaping holes in our souls that I describe as a feeling of emptiness. Emptiness is an extremely painful but all too common condition. The deal is that people seem to be on a constant hunt to find something, someone, some career, some addiction, some something – most anything to fill the inner emptiness they pathetically bear. Most of us would do anything to fill the “holes in our souls”. Have you ever had this feeling. Most of us have – I put myself in that category too.

St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (c. 325) expressed much the same thought, “Our hearts were created for Thee O God and our hearts remain restless until they rest in Thee.” Similar phrases echo throughout the centuries by Christian writers and philosophers. Rene Descartes, a French mathematician in the 18th Century coined a most perceptive axiom on the subject. Descartes wrote, “Within all of us is a God-shaped void that can only be filled by God himself.” Sandu Singh, a Christian missionary and philosopher from the sub-continent of India during the 19th Century echoed the same thought when he wrote, “The human heart is such a tiny thing but only the infinite God can fill it.”

I have recently been reading in the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, meditating on the words of the man who Scripture says was the wisest man that ever lived – Solomon. I think Solomon was particularly aware of the inner emptiness that he felt. And his empty feels must have been great because he attempted to fill them in such numerous ways. Read along with me some of the things Solomon attempted to use to fill the inner vacancy his heart must have felt.

In the first seven chapters of the book of Ecclesiastes he describes all of his personal attempts he tries to use to find fulfillment. He tries scientific discovery (1:10-11), wisdom and philosophy (1:13-18), entertainment (2:1), alcohol (2:3), architecture (2:4), property (2:7-8), and luxury (2:8) and least but not last, sex; the man had a thousand wives and 700 mistresses. Solomon turned his mind towards different philosophies to find meaning, such as materialism (2:19-20), and even moral codes (including chapters 8-9). He found that everything was meaningless, a temporary diversion that had no purpose or longevity. After all of his personal efforts to fill the emptiness that he felt within, Solomon concludes that every one of his diversions is “utterly meaningless”. In fact, he states over 35 times through this relatively short book of the Bible that every attempt he ever made to find fulfillment and fill the emotional hole of his life was futile, pointless and meaningless.

A song that recently came out on the radio asks an interesting question, “Have you worn out the world yet?” I think that Solomon did. The world held no meaning, no purpose, no satisfaction for him. I think another song might resonate with King Solomon if he had lived today – “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones. It captures much of the same essence.

However, I do not believe that we have to end this little essay on a note of despair; Solomon didn’t. At the conclusion of his book we catch a glimmer of hope that Solomon finally found the one thing that would fill the “hole in his soul” – he comes to accept that faith in God is the only way to find personal meaning. He decides that life is brief and ultimately worthless without God.

In the end he concludes by advising his readers to focus on an eternal God instead of temporary pleasure. After years of attempting to fill the inner emptiness he felt as only a man as wealthy as a king could do, Solomon found that God alone could fill the inner recesses where the constant ache demanded to be filled. By focusing on God and the purposes for which God had created him to fulfill, Solomon assuaged the pain he felt and discovered the secret to absolute meaning.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Of Republicans, Democrats and Aliens

By Kristi Paxton

I have an idea, well, actually two of them. This would be the spot where my family would collectively groan and roll their eyes. You may join them if you like.

At age 58, I’m past the stage where I believe any president—Democratic, Republican, or Martian—can meaningfully change the way our political system works or fails. No election winner has profoundly changed the way I’ve lived my American life. What’s the popular quote: “If you keep doing the same things the same way you will keep getting the same results”?

We’ve all watched the ads. (Read “witnessed the wasting of millions of media dollars.”) We’ve all answered our phones. (Read “wasted countless hours on phone polls.”) We’ve all endured the debates. (Read “listened to hundreds of empty promises, both sides.”) Rah, rah, rah.

Once again we will elect a figurehead, and it doesn’t really matter which figurehead. Both candidates promise to fix the past, pave the way for a bright future. Blah, blah, blah. One man has the benefit of hindsight: he’s tried it, and knows it’s not that easy. The other man has the benefit of ignorant bliss: pure optimism where all dreams can be accomplished with a fresh start. Both men love their country and plan to make it better. They want the same results: more jobs, less national debt, improved education. They’ve said it themselves.

And now for my ideas for an improved election process. (I love creative license) My outline follows. A bunch of non-partisan smart people can work out the details.

Feel free to groan now, or choose the process you like best:

Process Number 1: The candidate who gets the most votes wins. The runner-up becomes vice-president. Force the two parties who claim to love their country to work together to improve it. You might say, "You stupid person. Dumb idea. Nothing would ever get done.” I may answer, “Soooooo. How is that different from any of the last ten administrations I’ve witnessed?”

Process Number 2: Forget the cut-throat, empty-promise, money-wasting TV ads. End the jangling phone polls. Instead, about six months before Election Day, broadcast black and white identically formatted television/newspaper/internet lists of 3-5 changes each candidate would make. Include concrete ways each would accomplish proposed changes.
Don’t picture candidate names, faces or political parties on the ads. Simply label them Candidate #1 and Candidate #2. Let people vote for the candidate they prefer based only upon his/her plan. Reveal the name of the winner after votes are tabulated.

And if the two candidate parties above really want to help their country, let them donate their campaign millions—saved by using the new low-cost processes—to the cause of reducing national deficit. (Or job production research or teacher salary increases)

Or maybe we should just elect the Martian.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Shifting the Blame

By Kathryn C. Lang

My writing opportunities continue to expand. My dreams continue to grow. My results stay the same . . . and I look around wondering how these opportunities are not meeting up with my dreams.

I want to blame someone else. I want to point the finger at the economy. I want to deflect the truth from where is sits squarely – I am not where I want to be because I am not doing what I know I need to do.

All of the words of encouragement from friends and family will not get me there.
All of the plans for the future (and for the now) will not get me there.
All of the “ifs,” “buts,” and “maybes” will not get me there.

Intentions are great, but they do not build dreams. Only my actions will ever take me to that place of exceeding abundance that I desire. I can, if I think I can and then act in a way that brings the thoughts to life.

So, even though I want to point in another direction, I know where the true and only fault lies. I am squandering my “talents.” If I want to be in that place of the servant that received more, then I have to take action. I have to put the talents to work with a heart determined to reach the purpose of the Master and bless Him upon His return.

It is not about my feelings – although feelings will always try to step in the way.
It is not about the others around me – although people have a tendency to put a kink in my day.
It is not about my circumstances – although circumstances will push me to run or tie me down and make me stay.

Developing Consistency for Action

- do something. Something will often lead to something else which may end me up in the place where I should have been all along. Not doing something will increase the difficulty of getting started in the first place. Momentum begets momentum begets momentum . . . do something.

- get away. The clutter of life can hinder hope. I love my family, but sometimes a few moments alone can be all that I need to recharge. Alone, I can be still. Still, I can hear. When I hear the direction then I can be secure in my steps. Sometimes I have to be willing to get away.

- offer praise. Thank the Lord for all that He has done – in the moment, in the day and in life. Look around at all of the amazing blessings. Write down the good, positive and uplifting things. Hope and faith thrive in a heart committed to offer praise.

“You have been chosen by the ultimate judge above for many great things ahead. I see the light around you.” These words were recently shared with me about my walk and my writing. Confirmation that I am aimed in the right direction. Now I just have to be willing to fire!

What actions will you take to begin the momentum towards your dreams?

# # #

Kathryn C. Lang shares words of hope and inspiration with a desire that others she encounters will learn to pursue their own purpose with boldness. You can learn more about Kathryn by visiting You can also find all of her books on her website or at most online bookstores. Kathryn was recently award the SELTI 2012 – the nation’s first tourism fiction award - for her short story, “Digging Up Bones.”
The story will be featured in her third novel from the Big Springs series, REMEMBER, available in 2013.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


By Jeannette Doran

Fall is a time of fulfillment, joy and gratitude. We see the fruit of our labors and rejoice with thanksgiving. Over the past year we have worked towards the fulfillment of our desires. We have worked the land with firm hope for the abundant harvest. We begin to see the beauty of the countryside rich with vivid color. We feel the cool breeze; delight in the golden fields, orange sunsets, the wheat and corn waving in the wind. We remember our toil of the past year, our times of furrowing the fields and sowing the seeds. We are grateful for having given time to pruning, weeding and watering during the summer times of rapid growth. As fall comes we gather the harvest and store for the months ahead. Carefully we collect the seeds for next year’s planting. We prune and clear the land for winter’s long sleep. Seeing the fulfillment and fruit of our toils we gather together in thanksgiving giving joyful thanks to God and one another.

Our preparation for autumn’s fruit is a reflection in our spiritual lives. We work our inner furrowing in the land of our souls and we carve out spaces of growth towards a deeper intimacy with our God. All phases of growth are necessary. The desert periods bring rest, deep silence and darkness. These times ready the land of the earth and our souls for the furrowing of the fields and the seed sowing. In the spiritual realm we till the barren soil of our souls through vocal prayer, spiritual reading and reflection and periods of silent prayer. We spend time sitting still waiting for God’s work in the darkness and silence. All of these works eventually bring about the fulfillment of our desires. It may take a lifetime but we see as time deals gently with us so does our Beloved richly reward us. In our soul’s growth our inner being needs furrowing; we want to allow the Spirit to till the soil of our souls, to prepare spaces for seed sowing. We plow as we clear our minds of negative or fearful thought and begin to plant the tiny seeds of faith, compassion, hope and joy. These are watered with God’s grace sprinkled throughout the moments of our days. These seeds will grow and blossom as we nurture them. Our Carmelite rule invites us to meditate day and night on the Word of God and encourages us that a holy thought will guard us from all harm. We grow in faith as we focus on the truths of our faith such as the reality that the Creator of our universe dwells in the center of our being. Deep within our very being our God finds a home, a dwelling place. What a profound truth of our faith! Reflecting on this truth of our faith will fill one with hope and our hope grows as we experience God’s presence in our daily lives. Our hope is fulfilled and this creates a reciprocal love or a loving relationship with our Creator who so longs for our love in return. May we all know the rich abundance of autumn’s harvest and may this overflow into our spiritual growth and fulfillment.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

In the Garden

Photos By Gail P. Smith, text by C. Austin Miles, from the hymn, "In the Garden."

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
 The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own.
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.
I'd stay in the garden with Him,
Though the night around me is falling,
But He bids me go, through the voice of woe,
His voice to me is calling.
And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own.
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

I Believe in Heaven

The Great Blog Adventure has a special post today from well-known authors Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk. As you know, anything can happen when those two get their heads together and you may have just the story they are looking for for their latest book "I Believe in Heaven."

Needed: Stories for a New Book, “I Believe in Heaven.”

Twila Belk and best-selling author Cecil Murphey have contracted for a book called “I Believe in Heaven,” scheduled for spring 2013 release. (In fact, you can already pre-order the book on several websites!)

We want 3 types of stories:

1.First-person accounts of someone who died, went to heaven, and returned. (E.g., Don Piper or the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:1–10.)

2.First-person, near-death stories (such as those who felt they saw themselves above the operating table during surgery, went through a tunnel and into bright light before being whisked back to their bodies).

3.Third-person stories of those who have been at the bedside of a dying person who saw angels or Jesus coming to take them to heaven.

Don't delay--Deadline for stories is November 20, 2012.  You can also help Cec and Twila by sharing this information on your own web sites and with any and all author's groups you might be aware of.  Thanks so much for all your help.

For guidelines on how to submit and further information:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Both Sides Now

By Kristi Paxton

The flight attendant stood up front, and her mouth told all about our plane and our seatbelts. She admonished people sitting in the evacuation row. Her downturned lips did their job. Her heart and mind were elsewhere. Maybe she was mad.

“There is something about her eyes. I don’t know what it is,” said my seat mate, a new friend I’d met at the Christian Communicator’s Conference in Asheville, North Carolina.

“She is tired, hates her job and is worried about something at home,” I responded, suddenly recognizing the emptiness in our attendant’s eyes, the dark bags holding them up. I’d seen that expression in my mirror for the 26 years I’d spent in a job that didn’t fit my passions. In a flood of memory, I saw sick children I’d carted off to sitters those days. My dad, dying of congestive heart disease, I’d left at home alone while I scurried off to a job I didn’t love.

We landed rather roughly, and a look of relief came over our attendant’s face. My friend and I were happy to be released from her care. The feeling was mutual, I bet. “Please fly with us again!” Our hostess forced slight upturns at each end of her mouth.

“I’d rather have bowel surgery in the woods with a stick,” I thought. I’d been reading Bill Bryson on the flight and my brain borrowed his eloquence.

My connecting flight, on the other hand, was announced by Trudy Blair, the hostess with flair, the ying to that earlier flight attendant’s yang.

“Welcome to our little plane with a big heart,” said Trudy. “Let me know if there is anything I can do to make your flight with us a little more fun.” And then Ms. Blair turned her back to us and applied a red karate scarf across her forehead. “Just call me Gram-bo!” she said, and then proceeded to tell us all the serious rules and regulations of her little big-hearted plane. Chop-chop. Now we were cozy partners on a grand adventure.

Gram-bo maneuvered the bulky cart down a skinny aisle, looking each of us in the eyes. She tried to figure out what we liked best, cookies or pretzels. We felt like she’d offered T-bone steaks or baked Alaska. If she failed to make someone smile, Trudy found out what made her guest click, and then handed over more cookies.

“You do a really nice job!” I exclaimed, enjoying the glimpse of a time when air travel was exciting, attended by glamorous stewardesses. “How do you keep it up?” I wondered aloud.

“Well, I got my MBA late in life, went to college with the youngsters you know, and landed a systems analyst job with an airline,” said Gram-bo. Of course, I only got to work six years before I was downsized and lost my job. But they offered to give me this, my dream job. This was something I wanted to do when I was 12 years old!” she added. And then Trudy told of her travels and thankfulness at having a second chance. She was probably about my age, late fifties. She beamed.

When she saw how much I loved coffee, Gram-bo went and made a fresh pot. “I think I’ll sit down and have a cup with you,” she said.

Our little plane full of new friends landed smooth as a milkshake. We deplaned, (I squelched a desire to hug Gram-bo good-bye) and I began a sleepy drive home. As my brain replayed the day’s travels, I knew Gram-bo was set for life. But what about empty-faced hostess number one? Slogging away in her home on the plane, where seldom was heard an encouraging word. Could I have offered her a smile or a silly joke, changed her focus for one lousy day?

What if a stranger had encouraged me during my 26-year slump?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Are You A World Changer?

By Lori Boruff

You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had
your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him,
giving him trouble every chance you got.
But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross
actually dying for you, Christ brought you to God's side
and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence.
Colossians 1:21 – 23
Are You A World Changer?

It was my son's cell number that brought me to this meaningful passage in God's word. After his arrest, with wrists reddened by tightened handcuffs and ankles chained together, he shuffled to Cell 121.
That was his home—his identity—for nearly a year.

On the other side of the bars and bulletproof glass, my mama's heart tried to make sense of the pain.
Believing there are no kwinky-dinks when God is involved, I knew 121 was a significant number.
I went to God's word for answers. The Holy Spirit led me to Colossians 1:21

The next three verses filled my heart with hope. It described my son's life having turned his back on God. I understood God knew his heart better than me. The verse became God's promise to me. I believed through Jesus Christ, my son would be brought to God's side and all that seemed lost would be restored.

While in jail, my son did come to God's side. He did a 180 and turned towards God. Five years later, my son is known by a new number—The 180 Zone. He directs hundreds of volunteers who help the hopeless and broken put their lives back together.

This past Saturday night, my son stood on stage with recording artist Matthew West. The singer/songwriter describes my son as a 'world changer.' His newly released cd, Into The Light, includes the song We Are The Broken inspired by my son's real life experience. West calls the song an anthem—a victory song.

You too, have a victory song. It was not written with pen and ink but by the blood of Jesus Christ. By believing he died in your place, you become a world changer because God is The World Changer.

Are you on God's side?
What is the name your victory song?
How is God using you to be a world changer?