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

Thursday, November 29, 2012


By Sharon Wilhite

I have SO MUCH! Most Americans have More Than Enough, but a lot of the time it still isn't "ENOUGH."
Why??? Because I am not really thankful for what I have, for what God has already given me.
 No wonder God says that, "godliness with contentment is GREAT gain." (I Timothy 6:6)
 May I take Thanksgiving into the Christmas season, thank God, forget "stuff," and BE CONTENT ! (Matthew 6:24-34)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Need before Greed

By Charis Seeley

I’ve never gone shopping on Black Friday. The crowds, the lines, the chaos, none of it appeals to me. I’m not a very aggressive person. Every year there’s a terrible story of someone who was injured at a Black Friday sale. If I went, that person would likely be me.

It is amazing to me that an event that started as a way to get lots of Christmas shopping done has turned into a day of buying as much as we can. And not because we need it or really want it, but because it’s there and, well, we can.

When my mom asked me what I’d like for Christmas this year, I gave her an unexpected response. Since leaving the house and starting my own family, Christmas gifts have become an awkward dance. My husband and I have been blessed and if we really need something, we go buy it. We don’t wait for Christmas to come around. So, really, there’s nothing I truly need; I already have enough.

I know so many adults who say the same thing. What do you give someone that can easily afford what you’re giving them? I’m exhausted of buying gifts that I know the receiver doesn’t need and very well may not use. So I proposed a solution to my mom.

I told her about a Christian organization called World Vision. They work in impoverished parts of the world, helping struggling communities and families. On their website, you can purchase farm animals like chickens, goats, ducks, rabbits, and World Vision will give them to struggling families. The animals provide food, clothing, fertilizer for crops, and can be sold at market to cover the cost of other basics a family needs.

What would I like for Christmas this year? For myself, nothing. My mom feels the same as I do. Our lives are already so blessed. What more do we need? We won’t be exchanging physical gifts this year. Instead, we’re giving our business to World Vision and celebrate the birth of Christ (while skipping all the lines and chaos) and remembering that in Christ, we already have everything we need.

And, honestly? I think it may be the best Christmas yet.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

By Helen Knueven

Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

I am drawn to these scriptures this Thanksgiving. Even though Paul wrote from prison, he wrote with contentment. While in need, he resonated with confidence and a grateful attitude as he realized Christ alone to be his strength.

The Phillipian church, known to be the poorest church, gave Paul a gift that he needed very much. It caused Paul to rejoice for their expressed love.

In this time in our country, we are faced with many uncertainties. Homelessness, unemployment, and the threat of natural and manmade disasters dot our country’s future with question marks. We who look towards the unforeseen future can also look back at God’s faithfulness.

I would like to say Happy Thanksgiving! Because in this all – we who seek the Lord will not be disappointed in our pursuit of Him. He will not leave us alone. His presence is finer and more precious than any possession or experience we have had or still desire. He alone is our strength!

The Lord does not delight in our suffering – not does He necessarily always delight in our abounding – the Lord delights in us.

Today, if you are fortunate to be with family and share a meal, would you let yourself be courageous and reach out to someone? Who knows? Your gift may cause them to rejoice as the Philippians’ gift did for Paul. You may not need to look very far to find someone who needs help or encouragement.

Perhaps you are not so fortunate as to be with family today. Consider He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. The presence in the Lord within you can cause not only you, but someone else great comfort. Who knows how God can use us when our focus is on Him instead of ourselves? Our testimony of Christ’s love is our best gift. Although it’s not always easy to shift focus, when we focus on Calvary something happens. Someone you know needs what you have.

My parents’ secret coping mechanism was finding someone poorer than themselves to share a small meal with. To be honest, it wasn’t always easy finding someone in that situation. But as a child, I thought we were rich! And I guess, now that I think about it, we were after all. It was their way of showing His love to strangers.

Prayer – Lord, you deserve the highest praise and the most extravagant thanks – help me to develop a continual thankful heart. Thank you for your most extravagant gift of your Son, Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Election Promises

By Helen Knueven

Now that the election is over, I decided to list a few of the promises that have been made by different candidates and research the Bible concerning these situations.
Aren’t you glad that God’s promises never overwhelm Him? He never compromises – He delivers what He says He will and there are no grid-locks. He sure gets a lot of bad publicity, but it doesn’t make him nervous. No checking the polls to see how long He can sit on the throne.
So whoever you voted for in the American election – the most important question is – in your heart of hearts – who are you voting for? I’m so glad that when we vote for Jesus we can be sure that we are in the winning party that will never end. I also was warmed to find this scripture that God has voted for those who believe in Him!
I Thessalonians 1:4 - For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you,
I hope this encourages you as you look to God’s long-term plan for those who worship Jesus Christ.


1 We will secure all loose nuclear weapons in the world within four years.

  • A Isaiah 11: 6 And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the kid, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them.
  • B Isaiah 2:4 And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war.

2 We will create secure borders.

  • A Psalms 147: 14 He makes peace in thy borders, and fills thee with the finest of the wheat.
  • B Isaiah 60: 18 Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shall call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.

3 I will double federal funding for basic research over 10 years.
  • A Proverbs 8: 12 I, wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.
  • B Jeremiah 33:3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

4 Our military will be so powerful that no one would even think of challenging it.
  • A Psalms 20: 7 Some boast in chariots, and some in horses; But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God.
  • B Psalms 62: 11 Once God has spoken; Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God;
  • C 2 Chron 20: 21-22 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: "Give thanks to the LORD, for his love endures forever." As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.

5. I’ll ensure that every classroom will have a quality teacher.
  • A Psalm 119:99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
  • B Psalm 32: 8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shall go: I will guide thee with mine eye.
  • C John 15: 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
6. I’ll see to it that we use more renewable energy like wind and solar power.
  • A Rev. 21: 23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light. 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honor into it.
  • B. Isaiah 40:30-31 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
7. I’m committed to protecting social security.
  • A. Psalms 23: 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
  • B. Psalms 28: 20 A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that makes haste to be rich shall not be innocent.
  • C. Ephesians 1:11-12 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who works all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


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 that 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.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Press On to Victory

By Kathryn Lang

“Press on: Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge

Press on because the only thing standing in the path of your success is your own mind.
Press on because there is nothing that is as bad as you make it out to be in your mind.
Press on because the mind can barely comprehend the amazing blessings that the Father bestows.
Press on because you may not know in your mind the what, but you know in your heart and spirit the Who and that makes all the difference.

I dove competitively when I was in high school. Every year I went up against the same girl. Every year she beat me. The last year I competed, I spent the night before terrified about getting beat again. I HATE to lose. I called up a friend and he told me if it was stressing me out that bad then I should just go home. My coach pushed me to dive despite my fears. She beat me again. But my fears did not. That was my first lesson in pressing on.

A college professor told me that my writing would never be worth pursuing. My grandmother told me that writing was not something you did for a living because they called them starving artists for a reason. I still wrote. And eventually the internet began to open up avenues for me to pursue my writing with boldness. I am still in this lesson of pressing on and discovering more and more that it is not the talent, but the pursuit that will get me there.

My son started gymnastics last year. He struggled for a while to master the balance beam. He worried about falling off. He worried about messing up. “Keep trying” was the encouragement I offered, until I saw him one day on a log out in the back yard. “Pretend the balance beam is a log.” It made a difference. Sometimes pressing on means seeing things differently (and with a little imagination). I hope that this is the beginning of teaching my own children the value of pressing on.

Press on. Never let the world tell you what you can do. Never let circumstances define you. Never let problems dictate the path. Press on.

# # #

Kathryn C. Lang shares words that she hopes will encourage and inspire others. She desires to see others discover their unique purpose and to pursue that purpose with boldness. You can learn more about Kathryn at her website Her books are available through her website and also most online bookstores.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


By Robin Steinweg

Good Norwegians
Equally good Swedes
All agree
They have their needs

Meat and potatoes
High on the list
Sweets come next
Well, you get the gist

But blowing the rest
All to smithereens
Is a drink they sip
From mugs, saucers, canteens

Morning, noon, night

Any time in between

Coffee’s integral to their cuisine

From what I have gathered

Or been able to glean

They’ll use any means

To get their caffeine

Savored cold or steaming
It’s their cure-all vaccine
The tonic they crave
Here’s cup number umpteen

How happy, how content
When they embody this scene
A fragrant cup
And a good magazine

Teacher, homemaker
Student or marine
Coffee is fixed in
Their daily routine

Although this black potion
Runs in my genes
I’m still of the notion
Coffee’s full of beans

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Swinging in a “Swing” State

By Guest Blogger, Joanie Shawhan

Swings. Swings conjure up memories of my carefree childhood. Higher and higher I flew. I grabbed the chains, pumped my feet and sang at the top of my lungs. But life in a “swing” state has violated this childlike innocence.

A new kind of violence has emerged–political assassination. Traditional commercials bowed to scandalmongering campaign ads. Even Fact Check struggled to sift the truth from the lies.

Debates replaced primetime shows, making the boxing ring appear to be a two-step. Shout. Sneer. Interrupt. Raise a fist. The match is on! Fight over, (oops, debate over). A winner declared.

The presidential campaign trail led to my city not once, but twice! With two large lakes surrounding us, the traffic was rerouted to make way for the entourage of 18 police motorcycles, two black limos with darkened windows, followed by a train of white vans loaded with the press corps. We waited at stoplights while the lights changed from red, to green, to red… No alternate route. Streets barricaded. The 9-5 work force hindered. For security reasons, university classes cancelled.

Robo callers barraged my voicemail with unsolicited political opinions. “Unknown Number” inundated my private phone line, overtaking the volume of personal calls. As the election approached the finish line, I performed the one act that any self-respecting person would do¬–take the phone off the hook.

Now, the election is over. Promises made only to be broken. The other driver, my only traffic hindrance. Verbal assaults and slander return to the soap operas, violence to primetime. The phone is silent. (Did I put it back on the hook?). Chili’s fired-up favorites, adventures in the F4 pick-up and the breakfast of champions have made a peaceful return to my commercial screen. With multiple reruns, education for the aging population is underway once again featuring Boniva, Ginkgo Biloba, Lifeline and Depends.

Santa, snowmen and twinkling Christmas lights will soon replace glaring yard signs. Life is back to normal in the “swing” state.

Joanie Shawhan is an ovarian cancer survivor and a registered nurse. She writes articles of encouragement for women undergoing chemotherapy and is available for speaking engagements. Two of her articles have recently appeared in Coping with Cancer magazine. Joanie enjoys designing jewelry, knitting, and playing guitar.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Gives Thanks With A Grateful Heart

By Marvin Ferguson

As the holiday season once again approaches people are excited with all the joy it brings.

A plentiful supply of food will decorate a family table. Bulging eyes will easily wet many appetites. There is so much to choose from. No body goes away hungry.

And as winter starts to grip the landscape snow may blanket a small town where you live. It sounds like traveling through the woods to grandmothers house. Through a howling wind we bundle up in our best selection of clothes.

Or perhaps you live in a warmer climate where you can dress moderately in colorful attire. The sun shines bright beneath a clear blue sky in a mild breeze as a feeling of happiness travels through your veins like DNA.

I have so much to be thankful for until I visited a warehouse in a remote part of town. There was nothing attractive. It reminds me of a railroad yard like in Walt Disney's movie "Lady And The Tramp."

Inside, people lined up in tattered worn out clothes reaching out for some food and some much-needed clothes. And in a slow low sweet tone I heard them whisper, "Thank you sir," or just plain, "thank you." Their bulging eyes with a tear trickling down a cheek told the whole story. And goose bumps went down my spine watching them walk away with a bag full of groceries while dragging a box full of garments.

Happy Thanksgivings everybody, and I hope you have many more.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Gum Samaritan

By Gail P. Smith

"Grammy, do you have some gum?"  Four-year-old Naomi has already figured out that I'm the "Gum Grammy."  I checked my purse and when I didn't find any we headed up to the counter at Caribou Coffee to get a pack of "Peppermint Vanilla" sugar-free gum. Mmmm, sounds yummy, right?

 Naomi tried one piece and, of course, hated it.  I put it away in my purse, pulling out a piece from time to time, but I never really looked at the package. I mean, who looks at gum packages?

As I got to the last of the gum and pulled the empty package out of my purse to pitch it, the back of it caught my eye.  It read: "Each tray of gum provides 7 meals in American communites." It continued on and hopefully, I've made the above photo large enough for you to read the "FACT" part for yourself.

"Wow," I thought, "I only spent $2 provided 7 meals? That's a lot of bang for your buck." I turned the package over, looking for a loophole of some kind and on the inside I found this:

Unexpected to say the least, but very cool nevertheless. I cut the card out and did my good deed.  I called my daughter from the grocery store to ask if she needed anything.  I was able to help her out by buying the veggies she needed for dinner that night. I delivered them and marked off square #1 and gave the card to her to "pay it forward." She has since passed it on to someone she helped out by babysitting.  Pretty good for just a pack of gum.

To find out more about Project 7 I visited their website where I discovered their mission statement: "We make everyday products for good that help fund seven areas of need across the globe. Join our community and help 'Change the Score.'” They make the point that people think because they can't volunteer, they can't do anything. 

But Project 7 founder, Tyler Merrick believes, "We can change the world simply by changing what you buy. Little purchases can make a big impact."  "Little purchases," like a package of gum, that can feed 7 hungry people.

But, hey, don't take my word for it.  I'd invite you to take a look at Project 7's  website and see for yourself the things they are doing to help the average consumer help change the world. Or you can take a look at them on YouTube.  Check it out.  Maybe there is some small thing you can do to make someone else's life better.

"Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’" Matthew 25:40 (The Message)

It's just a little thing to us, but who knows what God can make out of it? That's one pack of gum that left a real sweet taste in my mouth.

Thursday, November 1, 2012


By Marie Tschopp

Author Michelle Medlock Adams recommends writing in rhyme to spur creative thought as an aid against writer’s block. After staring at a blank page, for 20 minutes and 56 seconds, I decided to give it a try. Here’s the results:


Cain and Abel were the first brothers
The only ones as there were no others.
Eve was their mom, Adam their dad.
Abel was good, but Cain was bad.

God said he wanted an offering
And Abel brought the best he could bring.
But what Cain gave was not at all good
For Cain did not live the way he should.

Cain was jealous and thought, “Just you wait!
In my hands is my brother’s fate.
I’ll silence Abel, that little squirt.
I’ll plant his body right here in the dirt!”

God knew exactly what Cain had done,
And was saddened Cain was such a bad son.
He punished Cain and said, “You must leave.
Move away from your parents, Adam and Eve."

Cain left his family, set out on his own,
For he had to reap the seeds he had sown.
Cain moved east of Eden to the land of Nod
And spent the rest of his life tilling the sod.

Okay, so I’m no Robert Frost or Michelle Medlock Adams, but it was fun. Try it. You’ll like it.