Writing --- Reading & Everything In-Between

Monday, July 14, 2014

IN SEARCH OF THE LIGHT By Michele Fleming

Tracy sat at the dining room table, peering at the mound of bills in front of her. It was the most dreaded time of the month  bill-paying time. Was it her, or was the stack in front of her growing before her eyes? It seemed that no matter how hard she tried, she could never get everything paid these days.

The hospital laid her off four months ago and Jim's construction jobs started dwindling soon after. He had to start traveling to get any work at all. To top it off, the twins had been sick with a cold for two weeks, adding to the already mounting doctor bills! She felt the weight of it all coming down upon her.

"Lord," she began as she picked up her checkbook, "I thank you for what you have blessed us with. Please help me to be able to get the most important things paid this month."

After an hour of "robbing Peter to pay Paul", Tracy placed the stamp on the last envelope and placed them all in a neat stack on the corner of the desk.
"Well, there you go." She then looked at the stack of unpaid bills. "Maybe I can get to you next month."

Tracy then made her way to the kitchen to prepare a meager dinner of chili and hot dogs for her family.

 ******
Later that night, Tracy tucked the twins in bed and walked down the hallway toward her bedroom. The weight of all her troubles hung around her like a steel blanket.

She walked to her bedside and knelt down.

"Dear Lord, I don't know what to do. I feel so overwhelmed. I know You will work things out for our family. I know You have great plans for us and I need to be patient. Please, help me with that, Lord. Help me to turn all the worry over to You. In Jesus' name, amen."

Tracy climbed in bed and willed sleep to overtake her, putting an end to this long and tiring day.

                                                             ******
 Three days later she was fixing the twins breakfast when the phone rang.

"Hello." Tracy expected it to be the usual bill collector.

"Tracy Lester?"

"Yes."

"Ms. Lester, my name is Margie Stone and I am the Director of Nursing at the new nursing home in town. Mrs. Winston, your former supervisor, gave me your information. She explained that you were one of the unfortunate in the recent layoffs at Mercy General."

"Yes, ma'am." Tracy wondered where this was going. Her heart sped up with anticipation.

"Well, we are looking for someone to head up our acute care wing and Mrs. Winston feels that you would be perfect for the position. Would you be interested?"

"Yes, I would be!" Tracy fought to contain her excitement. "You should know up front that I am the mother of twin three year olds and my husband is doing a lot of traveling with his job. It may be difficult for me to pull weekend or night shifts."

Tracy knew from experience that this information was usually a deal breaker.

"No problem! This would be a weekday shift,  a straight forty hour week. Can we set up a time to meet?"

"An interview? That would be wonderful!" Tracy couldn't believe what was happening.

"No, Mrs. Lester, Mrs. Winston's opinion of you is all I need to give you a chance. You have the job, if you want it."

"Oh, my! You have no idea what this means to my family and me!"

"I look forward to working with you. Is it possible for you to come in this afternoon, say around three? And please, bring the twins."

"I don't know if that would be such a great idea, Ms. Stone."

Bring the twins. . . Really?

"It would give you a chance to see how they like the daycare center we have here. Employees get a wonderful discount."

This was too much!

"Well, alright then. The twins and I will see you at three."

"Great! I will be looking for you."
Tracy hung up the phone and hit her knees right there in the middle of the kitchen floor. Tears streamed down her cheeks.

"God, you are truly amazing! You have shown me once again, that there is always a bright and shining light at the end of every dark tunnel. Thank you!"

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com <a href="http://www.faithwriters.com">CHRISTIAN WRITER</a>

Monday, June 30, 2014

SHARING THE GOSPEL IN A TERRORISTS' CAMP

My pastor told us one day that a Christian who cannot boldly preach Christ and win souls have failed in his primary assignment.
“It was Jesus’ final call to all believers and if you are not winning souls for Jesus, you are like a fruitless tree. What did Jesus do to the fruitless tree in Matthew 21:19? He cursed it!  And in Luke 13:6-7, He ordered it to be cut down!”

This made me really restless. I was an introvert. I had been a Christian for close to five years and hadn't won a soul for Christ. I love God and His Word and all I wanted was to be a productive Christian. I began to pray for the grace for evangelism.

Weeks later, my prayers were answered. A 19-year old girl, Deborah, told me of how she and twelve other girls were kidnapped by terrorists while on field trip to Northern Nigeria. The terrorists informed them they were hostages to get the government to release three of their arrested members. They asked those who were Christians to lift up their hands. Deborah and four others did. Out of fear, two Christian girls did not indicate. The terrorists told Deborah’s group that they won’t be Christians for long.

While the other eight girls ate good food, Deborah and her group were fed with dry bread and water. They did the dishes and laundry. However, the terrorists did not rape them as they did the other girls, because to them, Christians were an ‘abomination.’

Through it all, Deborah said she was at peace. A pocket-sized Gospel of John which she always carried with her gave her hope. She had kept it hidden in her dress. In the middle of the night, she would sneak it out and read, using the faint light streaming through the windows from outside. Then she would pray quietly for their release. Soon, the other Christian girls joined in the secret reading and praying.

One of those nights, she heard one of the Muslim girls crying. She crawled to her to comfort her, read John 16 to her and prayed with her. In the next few nights, all the other girls joined the secret, quiet fellowship and confessed Jesus as Lord. They spent most of the nights reading the Gospel of John and praying.

Two weeks after, soldiers ambushed the camp and rescued all of them. They had read the Gospel of John twice. Deborah told me only two of the girls went back to Islam. The others are growing strong in the Christian faith.

I was challenged by her story. I asked her about the bible. She simply dipped her hand in her bag, brought one out and said, “The rule in my home is, ‘don’t leave the house without The Book.’ Since I was twelve, my mother taught me how to share the gospel with this.”

Deborah told me about the website - http://www.ptl.org. I immediately checked it out. What I saw was an answer to my prayer on evangelism.

Since 1893, the Pocket Testament League has been mobilizing and equipping Christians to read, carry and share the Word of God. Their free resources are a spiritual trove; free evangelism training that makes it easy for timid Christians like me to share my faith with others. I was particularly enriched with the Evangelism Boot Camp, a free, self-paced, 7-part online training course. It is simply amazing!

Two years of using their Free Daily Devotional have grown my faith, improved my relationship with God, and increased my passion for reading God's Word. I have received deep insights, especially from the Gospel of John, through the 21-Day Challenge.

Today, like Deborah, I can confidently witness, even to the most unusual people, in a variety of creative ways. The pocket-sized Gospel of John, for instance, comes in colorful cover designs related to people’s personal interest. There is a suitable cover for your boss, colleagues, that snubby neighbor, soldier, horticulturist, golf player or dog-lover - many attention grabbing covers in a variety of languages. I just hand them out freely, with loads of love and prayers. As they read, they make a decision for Christ. No words of man can be as effective for evangelism as the Word of God.

Since I encountered the Pocket Testament League, my spiritual life has grown amazingly.


Effective and rewarding evangelism tools are just a click away.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

QUOTES ON WRITING

I am currently reading an e-book titled About Writing by Michael LaRocca. It’s a great book for those who want to improve their writing. In it are some quotes by writers. Some are instructive, some comical and some downright ludicrous. I had to go on the web to check out the bios of some of those writers and see what made them impressive.  Enjoy the snippets.
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"Everywhere I go, I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them." Flannery O'Connor
Mary Flannery O'Connor (March 25, 1925 – August 3, 1964) 
An American writer and essayist, she was an important voice in American literature. With two novels, 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries, her Complete Stories won the 1972 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction. She was named the "Best of the National Book Awards" by internet visitors in 2009.
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  • I write fiction because it's a way of making statements I can disown, and I write plays because dialogue is the most respectable way of contradicting myself. Tom Stoppard
  • It is always a good idea, in any type of writing, to imagine what it's like to be the reader. Carl Dickson
  • An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff. Adlai Stevenson
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Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers. T.S. Eliot
Thomas Stearns Eliot (26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965) 


I encountered his writing for the 1st time at the university when we read one of his well-known plays, Murder in the Cathedral (1935). An essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic, He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry."
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  • It has been said that there is no great writing, only great rewriting. Michael LaRocca
  • It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write. Sinclair Lewis
  • When something can be read without effort, great effort has gone into its writing. Enrique Jardiel Poncela
  • Easy reading is damn hard writing. Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Writing comes more easily if you have something to say. Sholem Asch
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I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters. Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright(June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959)

He was known more as a reknown American architect of his time. He was also an interior designer, writer and educator, who designed more than 1000 structures and completed 532 works. Wright authored 20 books and many articles and was a popular lecturer in the United States and in Europe. He was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as "the greatest American architect of all time. one of his most popular architectural designs was the Falling Water.
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  • I can't understand why a person will take a year or two to write a novel when he can easily buy one for a few dollars. Fred Allen
  • Writers have a rare power not given to anyone else; we can bore people long after we are dead. Sinclair Lewis

Enjoy God’s Exceeding Grace


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

DISCOVER YOURSELF
Many people are walking corpses, roaming the earth without knowing who they are.                

Image Courtesy of Master Isolated Images/freedigitalphotos.net
Ask yourself these questions:
1.      Who am I?
2.     Why am I here?
3.     What do I have in me? ( Gifts, Talents and Abilities)
4.    What am I to use them for?
Try answering these questions.

I have found out, in my years of teaching and counseling, that many do not have these answers. That is why successful people are much fewer than the unsuccessful.
Until you discover yourself, you cannot uncover your destiny. The best thing you can do for yourself in your youthful season is to know who you are. No one can do it for you; it is a personal responsibility.
No one knows who you are
Only God can tell you who you are
Only you can find out from Him who you are
You lose your personal identity by letting people tell you who you are or by imitating others.
Go to your maker and let Him show you who you are and why He created you, it is only then you can move on to the future on the right path.
 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Jeremiah 29:11

You Are Made To Excel
Grace Greatman

Monday, February 10, 2014

EASY WAY TO LEARN

I love life stories.
History and literature were my favorites in high school. I’m interested in people and their history. I have been, since my teenage years, when I started reading autobiographies of celebrities. It made me feel like I knew them personally. I also love to ask questions and learn about people; what they do and how they do it. When I was a kid, I would ask so many questions, my mum would scold me. It was only natural that I ended up a broadcaster and I enjoyed all my ten years of working in the media.
The habit remains. I still ask lots of questions, just to know and learn, and my husband sometimes nudges me discreetly when I switch into the interviewer’s mode with people. 
I have learnt so much from all the stories behind people’s glories, defeats and struggles. It has not only helped me to be a good counselor and life mentor, I have applied some of these lessons personally. Life stories, orally or written, present to us a lifetime of experiences and lessons in a few hours of reading. It may be in the form of a profile, memoir, diary or autobiography. 
Joyce Meyer
Joyce Meyer says, there are three ways to learn:

The Easy way - Learning from other’s mistakes;

The hard way - Learning from your mistakes;

The Tragic Way - Learning from neither;”
No wonder the bible is an encyclopedia of biographies. God wants us to learn the easy way, from bible heroes and villains. His laws and principles are better understood through the lives of these characters.
Some advise you read biographies of successful people only while some recommend you read the good, the bad and the ugly as long as your objectives are clear. You learn from the good how to be good and from the deficient, how not to fall from grace. You learn from people’s great exploits as well as their failings.
Former UK Prime Minister

Instead of learning life’s lessons the hard way, you could take an easier route by standing on the shoulders of those who have gone ahead.
Here are some values I have gleaned from reading other people's stories.
MARGARET THATCHER
"If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at anytime, and you would achieve nothing." 
"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't."
"Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's day you've had everything to do and you've done it."
"No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he'd only had good intentions, he had money as well." 

NELSON MANDELA
"There is no passion to be found playing small in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."
"I have learnt that courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
"Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again." 

ANNE FRANK
"I think a lot. I don't say much." 
"No one has ever become poor by giving." 

MARTIN LUTHER KING JNR.
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensely and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education."
"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase."
JOYCE MEYER
"You can suffer the pain of change or suffer remaining the way you are."
"The only person you should try to be better than, is the person you were yesterday." 

We are a most blessed generation with the crowd of leaders we can learn from. Why not pick up a biography of someone you admire and want to pattern your life after. It's a less difficult way to grow into greatness.

Enjoy God’s Exceeding Grace

Saturday, February 1, 2014

STAY MOTIVATED - CLARIFY YOUR MOTIVES

When a man has not a good reason for doing a thing, he has one good reason for letting it alone.
-Scott
We hardly do anything without a Motive. That’s what drives us and defines who we are. Mimi’s story shows that our motives have the power or energy to drive us to achieve our goals. Motive Power is the driving force behind an action or activity. The force pushes you. It puts pressure on you. It keeps you aflame and committed, even in the face of challenges.
This is why it is crucial for us to consciously identify the reasons for our goals and pursuits.
I mentioned in the last article that my Writing Group decided that for us to record more writing successes this year, one of the things we have to do is purify our motives.

CLARIFY YOUR MOTIVES
We need to make the reasons we want to write very clear by being specific and explaining it in detail. Mimi’s initial reason to become a successful author was imprecise and general. Everyone wants to be a successful ‘something.’ You must have a reason more personal and relevant to your need.
Personalizing your motive means, you are not doing it because someone you know succeeded at it. That’s a warped reason to pursue a goal. That your friend won the annual writing competition and got a huge prize for it does not mean you can. You have to discover what God created you for and the gifts he deposited in you before you can rightfully chart a path to your future.
The weakest among us has a gift, however seemingly trivial, which is peculiar to him, and which worthily used, will be a gift to his race forever.
-Ruskin

PURPOSE DRIVEN MOTIVES
There is no road to success but through a clear, strong purpose.
 -Munger
Your motive must leave the realm of want to a realm of need. It must leave the realm of indifference to a realm of passion and obsession. It must be a do or die matter.
Until Mimi got to that point, she didn’t take her dream serious. At the slightest distraction, she abandoned her goals, because she had not understood the purpose. This brings to mind, Myles Munroe’s saying that when purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable.
More men fail because of lack of purpose than lack of talent. Don’t you think that if Mimi had realized early enough that pursuing her desire to write would be her saving grace in future, she would have been more assiduous?

VALUE ADDING MOTIVES
No one is happy or free who lives only for himself. Joy in living comes from immersion in something one recognizes to be bigger, better, worthier, more enduring than he himself is.
-McGeehon
Your reasons for writing must be beneficial, not only to you, but firstly to others. Until you have a tangible, valuable motive for doing something, you may not succeed at it. Our goal must be people oriented and selfless. It is in investing in others that our profiting appears.
Mimi eventually decided that her book will help her increasing patients and others gain necessary knowledge on healthy diet. This is a clear value-adding motive than being a successful author

God has given us two hands - one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.
-Graham
In coming up with motives that are value adding, you must also have very clear self-ideals. What do you believe in and stand for? Until you define this and stand by it, you will continue to compromise your aspirations.
I have personally found out that when your purpose is for yourself, you can easily give up, but when it is people focused, you are motivated to continue, because of the many lives that depend on it.

Do you need to re-assess your goals and aspirations?
Do you need to clarify your motives for better productivity?
Let’s do it together. Drop a comment please.

Enjoy God’s Exceeding Grace

Thursday, January 30, 2014

STAY MOTIVATED - MIMI’S STORY

Image Courtesy of Stuart Miles/ freedigitalphotos
Still talking about staying motivated, you need more than Willpower, you need a strong motivation.
What is motivating you to do what you do?
If you want to write a book; why?
If you want to go to school; why?
If you want to get married; why?
You should not decide to do something because others are doing it, you need a stronger motive than that or you will quit before you finish.
 Mimi is a dietician. About seven years ago, she told me of her desire to write a book on Healthy Eating. I asked her why and she said she wanted to be a successful author.
 Do you think her motive was vague and weak?
She started with so much zeal, and wrote the drafts for five chapters in a week. Then she met Paul and this hot romance started. She soon put the desire to be a successful author on the back burner. For two years, her job at a high profile hospital and her love life with Paul were enough to make her forget her goal.
What happened to her aspiration to become a successful author? 
The affair broke up and she was devastated especially by the fact that Paul left her for a well-known former beauty queen. That dealt a fatal blow on her self-esteem. When she recovered, the desire to be that successful author came back with full force.
Why did the desire return with a vengeance?
How long can the steam last? 
At an amazing speed, she finished the first draft of the book and sent it to me for editing. Her goal was to get the book published in a month. I was so busy then I didn’t have time to see her manuscripts and she harassed me so well I had no choice but to leave every other thing to look at her job. I made some corrections and observations, sent it to her, expecting to get it back in a few days. But it didn’t come. Two weeks later, I called her and was surprised at her response.
She and Paul had reconciled and she had been too busy to see the manuscripts.
Why and how did her desire evaporate so fast? 
Four years and two kids later, a sack letter and divorce papers from Paul, Mimi became a shadow of her former self.
Faced with raising her two kids alone, no paid employment and not only a broken heart but a shattered self-image, Mimi had a strong need to pursue her abandoned dream of writing a book.
She had converted the ground floor of her duplex to a Clinic and started a private practice as a Nutrition Specialist.
As her clientele increased, she found it necessary to finish her book to help her patients and others gain necessary knowledge on healthy living. 
How would you compare this motive with to the first one? 
So, she updated the book and within a few months published it. It was an instant success. She started a blog on Healthy Living that soon began to thrive. This increased her clientele. She wrote two other books within a year and became a co-host for a television health show.
What motivated Mimi to eventually realize her desire to be a successful author? 
What motivates you to do something is what keeps your Willpower on. The stronger your motive and desire, the stronger your Willpower.
The first assignment we have this year in my Writing Group is to purify our motives by making it clear, personal, purpose-driven and value-adding.
I will talk more about this next.
In the meantime, why don't you work on purifying your motives for some of your goals.

Enjoy God’s Exceeding Grace