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

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


By Michel Elmore

Have you ever had to travel through a desert? I have and believe me it was not an adventure I would like to repeat anytime soon. Many years ago, I my young family and I were moving from Iowa to Los Angeles in an old 1974 Grand Safari station wagon with a leaky front transmission seal pulling a 6’ x 12’ U-Haul trailer. It seemed like every hundred miles, sometimes less; we were stopping to top off the transmission with oil or the radiator with water. Our car dangerously over heated several times on the 1800 miles trip.

After traveling over 1000 miles of Rocky Mountains, sometimes barely creeping over each new peak before us, we found some respite when we stopped for a day in Las Vegas to rest. As we headed west out of the city the next morning, we were surprised to discover that we still had to cross another 800 miles of desert terrain filled with mountain range after mountain range.

A few miles into this leg of the journey a sign appeared along the shoulder of the highway which read: “No water next 156 miles”. Sure enough, about 50 miles into the desert our car over heated and my thermostat on my radiator exploded. Slowly, we coasted into a rest area (with no facilities) wondering what we were going to do?

I happened to have been quick witted enough to pick up an extra thermostat along the way, and even five gallons of water. However, when I looked in my car’s tool box I was short one 9”x16” box end wrench – the only one that would enable me to replace the broken thermostat on the car. I remember praying super-fast and super-intensely because I had no idea how my wife and I and three young children were going to get out of this seemingly hopeless situation.

No kidding, just as I ended my prayer, a long-haired guy in a white panel van pulled up beside me and noticed me working under the hood of the car. He saw my frustration and asked me what was wrong? I told him about the missing wrench and my broken thermostat. He told me he thought he might be able to help me out. The guy went to the back of his panel van and returned in just a few minutes with a 9”x16” box end wrench – the very one I needed! He told me that he was a mechanic and that he was moving to Los Angeles as well and had all of his tools in the back of his van. I fixed the thermostat and went to return the wrench to its owner who simply said, “Keep it – you might need it again.”

Crossing a desert can be difficult and dangerous. Sometimes God’s people find themselves traveling through desert places in their lives. Perhaps you are traveling across a desert in your life right now. If you are, I am sorry that you have to endure it. However, one thing I learned through my desert experience is that God is the God of the deserts of life. Even the deserts are subject to His deity, serve His purpose and must render glory to their Creator.

God has left a precious promise to those traveling through the deserts of life in Isaiah 43:19. Isaiah records these words, “I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Just as in my situation when I felt the most stuck, the most helpless and the most hopeless, God made a way in the desert for me. My desire is to pass on to you a message of hope - if God made a way for me, he can also make a way for you.

Some well-meaning folks would say: “stop being impatient, just wait for God”; “He’ll bring the answer in His timing.” I learned that out in the desert sometimes we need help right away – if help doesn’t come right away we may not make it. The sun is just too hot and our thirst is just too great.

God knows how hot, dry and dangerous the desert can be too. That is why in verse 19 he recognizes our urgent need for help in desert situations. Isaiah reminds of the immediate availability of God’s help when we find ourselves out in the desert. “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”

Just as God was aware that I needed His help immediately in my desert journey, He is well aware of your need and your time table in your circumstances too. God wants to remind you that His help is already on the way – “Even now it springs up!” The Hebrew word for “now” means that “help has already been prepared and stands at the ready!”

I want you to know that I am no stranger to the desert. I have had my troubles there too. I think you can see that. I will even go so far as to confess that I have been anxious at times, angry at others, felt depressed and sometimes even distraught. However, I have learned a great lesson that I hope that you can learn too. God is God over every desert you face in your life. He has already made a way for you to pass through it, and “even now His help springs up, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19).

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Samson's Hair, God's Grace

By Helen Knueven

Every beautician knows that hair grows!

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that hair grows; how God’s gifts and God’s callings are irrevocable, and when my enemy rejoices to his highest hee-haw, that is when God is about to breakthrough in unprecedented deliverance.

I have learned this from reading the book of Samson. One may think, that because of his lack of willpower, he would be excluded from the anointing of God working in his life ever again.

Sometimes as Christians we can feel excluded from God using us. A few moments of indiscretion, a bad decision, or even a string of events that had the chain effect of failure, seems to disqualify us. There are also times when we don’t understand the reasons for perceived failure, being passed over time and again, and not realize the things in our lives that our good.

Samson was a man of God with supernatural strength in his hair. Where is your supernatural strength? If you are a Christian, I believe that you have it. It may be an outward obvious strength, or it may be an inner gentle strength. Is it in the ministry of hospitality? Or writing, music, preaching, drama, or evangelizing?

A short synopsis of Samson’s story: Samson had such a supernatural strength that he could kill a lion or bear with his bare hands. It was not a strength given just to flex his muscles – the divine plan was that Samson would deliver the Israelites.

His enemies worked hard to stop him and defeat him. They used a woman who deceived Samson into telling her his secret. While he slept, she shaved his head – and the Philistines captured him. They attributed their success to a small god. That is always problematic. Poor Samson had his eyes gouged out. He ended up working in a prison. But as time went by – something happened. Samson’s hair grew. God was avenging Samson – in prison it surely did not look that way to him, but his strength was increasing because it resided in his growing hair.

Judges 16:22-23 Howbeit the hair of his head began to grow again after he was shaven. 23. Then the lords of the Philistines gathered them together for to offer a great sacrifice unto Dagon their god, and to rejoice: for they said, Our god hath delivered Samson our enemy into our hand.

We can see the arrogance of his mockers – They thought that since he had been captured and his strength had left – he was no longer a threat. They did not consider that God was still able to change situations for His own people.

A little background: Even before Samson was born – an angel had told Samson’s parents that Samson would be a deliverer of Israel, and be a Nazarite from the womb, and that a razor should never touch his head. So even though Samson was in this situation that reeked of defeat – God had a plan for his life.

I believe there are times in every Christian’s life that they feel as if they are a shaved Samson. You may be in a situation where you relate to Samson, and yet, if you are going to relate to him, you must relate to him in entirety to understand that God is still at work on your behalf.

Sometimes is it because of sin; and sometimes, it is because of a greater plan, I believe.

Perhaps you are a preacher whom God has used mightily in the public ministry – and you fell. You find you’re incapable of facing crowds now. Maybe you are a music minister and you’ve been tempted to showcase your talent over communicating God’s love. You realize now that people are not so much worshipping God when you play, but noticing your technical ability, and the joy you once knew has disappeared. Maybe God has used you in the healing ministry and instead it going to your heart – it went to your head. There are so many possible situations in which we may fall.

Or maybe you have been faithful in ministry. Doors closed without your ability to even guess why. Maybe those in authority were envious and screeched the ministry to a halt. There are countless reasons why a Christian can begin to feel they can no longer move in the anointing.

You might be a writer gifted with communicating Biblical truth, but you have been rejected like Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. Rejection letters abound to the point you could wallpaper your apartment with them. You may have the gift of giving that people have tried to exploit and you somehow gave in to it. For every good gift God gives – there is always an evil desire of the enemy to thwart it.

For every time that happens, how wonderful it is to remember that we are not just people whom God has chosen to use, but we are people whom God has chosen to love.

Clearly it is not always sin when we sense God pulling back. For when Jesus hung on the Cross – The Son of God and Son of man, our perfect, and sinless sacrifice, at one time cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Back to Samson - One day when the Philistines probably had one drink too many, they ordered Samson in so they could have fun mocking him. It would be, they thought, the icing on their cake, to bring in the man of God and humiliate him further.

Have you ever felt like that? The thing they forgot was that HAIR GROWS. Let us not forget it, though.

This time, however, Samson did not take the anointing for granted. He called upon the Lord and prayed, “Lord, let me one more time be avenged of the Philistines and then let me die.” Samson did not realize that all of the time he was in prison God had been working that out – letting him wait as his hair grew back.

As the Philistines prepared to use Samson as their dartboard, they were horrified to find that the strength of Samson had returned. The whole building came crushing down upon them because of Samson’s strength. Samson was content to die with the anointing of God flowing through him.
The thing about hair – it grows! The thing about the gifts of God – they are irrevocable!
Romans 11:29 tells us, “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

The thing about God’s judgment – it has a purpose.
Micah 7: 8 “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.
9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.”

Maybe you can’t relate to these hardships. Maybe your growth and impact is pushing out on every side. But if you can relate – I’d like to remind you of the seed that waits in darkness in the black soil. The seed was created for one purpose – to break through the ground, clothed in beauty that exceeds Solomon’s costly clothes.

Let the rain from heaven do it’s work – and wait for the balm of the light of the sun.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Time

By Charis Seeley

My husband and I seem to make all of our big life changes at once. We have a three year old daughter, and we’ve recently decided it’s time to leave our current house in search of greener pastures with four bedrooms and a finished basement. In the chaos of trying to prepare our current house for the real estate market, the simplest of tasks seem to pile up. And despite the longer hours of sunshine, the day is still only 24 hours long. We’re exhausted and nowhere close to finished. Too often it’s hard to see where the day has gone.

If I Find Time

It will surely be hiding under the sofa,

       riddled with holes of dust bunny nibbles.

I may have left it in between

       the third and fourth undone laundry loads.

I have searched my dresser,

       where it did not lay under the sweaters awaiting the dry cleaner.

It may have slipped into old pacifiers,

        or into boxes of baby clothes stacked for storage.

Perhaps I left it across town,

       forgotten in a shopping cart,

            or pressed between the pages of a coupon flyer.

It must be hiding.

I cannot find it.

I must have lost it.

I could not have thrown it out.

I have looked for my time,

       And I find that it does not gather with the dishes,

            Nor with the anxieties,

                 Or the projects,

                      Or the books, dust, or pipes.

But in a set of eyes still too young to have decided their color,

        grey or blue or green.

Most often,

        It is there that I find my time.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


By Sharon Wilhite

Why is it - with every passing year - that winter weighs so heavily upon me? Three heavy blankets (not “comforters”) of snow, cold, and extra darkness press down on me, making me want to burrow under my actual pile of bed covers and not get up and out until the light and warmth of spring arrives. Sunny, cold days I can tolerate. Grey, frigid days press hard on body, soul, and spirit. I know in my mind that “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” (Eccl. 3:1), but my body and soul are harder to convince. I can help my body with exercise. My mind can fantasize about a winter beach condo in Florida. But my soul is what needs rejuvenating or I am in danger of becoming more depressed with each successive winter.

“My beloved spoke and said unto ME, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past…the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come…the fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” (Song of Solomon 2:10-13)

The invitation is there. Everyday spent with my Lord - in His Word,
in prayer, in song - is a spiritual getaway, a soul “destination vacation” guaranteed to bring back warmth and life to my spirit!

An old song from my teen years mirror my thoughts:
Lord, to my heart bring back the springtime.
Take away the cold and dark of sin.
And, oh refill me now, sweet Holy Spirit;
May I warm and tender be again.
(Kurt Kaiser, 1970)

Oh, Lord, I want to ARISE and COME AWAY - WITH YOU!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Determining my Direction

By Kathryn C. Lang

The seminar promised to provide tips for how blogging and journalism would work together in the future. I went for the connections as much as I went for the information. I came away with a new perspective on what I do and who I am.

It was one of the last questions of the night that sent my thoughts spinning. “What is the difference between a blogger and a journalist?” The panel had several thoughts, but none of them fit me. On the drive home, my thoughts spun around my own question. “What kind of writer am I?”

Do you know what kind of writer you are? Do you even have a plan or do you just let the words flow where they may?

I am a pantser – for you NaNoWriMo fans out there. I have been known to write out an outline. But much like the recipes in my books, they are there for suggestions not to actually follow. I go where the words want to lead. Unless I have to take the words where I want them to go. So I guess I am not a complete pantser after all.

I am a columnist. I write a regular column for the local paper where I offer tips for unlocking a life of peace and joy. I write what I want to write. Unless the editor asks me to do a news story, and then I write what he asks me to write. I guess I am not just a columnist.

I am a blogger – which means I am about starting conversations with others (if the panel from the other night is to be believed). I produce posts that stir emotions and drive comments. Except that my posts rarely produce comments and are more likely just shared by readers with others. I guess I am not really a blogger, at least by their definition.

These were some of the ideas that kicked around my head for the drive home. I left the music off and let the thoughts take the lead. I threw into the mix my purpose, my mission, my vision and other ideas gleaned from my writing plan (think business plan only focused on my writing journey).

Things began to clear up as I turned into my drive. I slept on them and by morning they had crystalized. I am a wordsmith. Through words – written, spoken, blogged, journaled – I help to inspire hope.

What are you?

If you are not sure of your direction then you will never be able to determine when you arrive.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Twelve About ’12 in Seven-Word Sentences

By Robin Steinweg

1. Praise to God for a new year! (Thank You for getting us through 2011.)

2. We observe one year since Dad passed. (There’s not much snow for a February.)

3. We still grieve, though not without hope. (Spring comes early and makes us giddy!)

4. Our sons travel with Madison Master’s Commission. (Acts of service, ministry to young people.)

5. Nine months’ intensive discipleship ends with graduation. (We are proud of each Master’s student.)

7. Our shy-ish Brian speaks to a girl! (Many thanks to Madison, Wisconsin’s Brat Fest.)

8. Tom’s dad is treated for prostate cancer. (At ninety, he is still quite spry.)

9. After a year, Mom is finally well. (Huge doses of prayer and probiotics helped.)

10. Our shy-ish Brian has gotten himself engaged! (This sweet girl is undoubtedly a keeper.)

11. A dear friend comes for a visit. (How can one week fly so swiftly?) (Let’s hope Kathy can come next year!)

12. Choir preparations for Thanksgiving and Christmas abound. (Music-y months are busy, but so precious.)

God is near, ever here—never fear.

Live for Him * Love for Him * Laugh with Him * Linger with Him