Thursday, January 29, 2015

REFLECTIONS/Donna Mann

How do we spend these dull winter days in creative ways? I have reason to leave my Christmas tree up longer than most people. In January it creates reflection, not only in its privileged position, but depending where I stand in the living room, I can see small white lights in two large windows. As well, the stained glass pieces that hang in the windows constantly change according to the sun, moon or whatever light is on in the house.

Even on the dullest days in winter, our sunroom is a happy 
environment because of the wood stove. A beautiful garland, a gift from a creative friend many years ago, reflects itself along the ceiling. Petite childhood wooden toys, golden grapes, and colourful ribbon create a bed for miniature lights to peek through the imitation evergreen branches.


Winter is also a good time to polish all the glass in one’s home, not to get rid of the dust (although that helps), but to shine, and reflect what light is around it. The hospital thrift shop often has glass to boost reflections at a very low cost.

Even as I sit in the sunroom on a dull winter’s day, I look at a picture given to us thirty years ago by a young man in his twenties who came to visit us for a few days and stayed a few months. And I see a reflection of the garland’s lights shining brightly in the picture’s glass.



I liken all of the above to a recent stained glass piece I completed. One picture frame, in different settings, takes on a different colour depending on what other lights are present.

Think of people left alone, who might become depressed, despondent and withdrawn. Yet, in the midst of energy, love and encouragement, they begin to reflect their surroundings. And sometimes, even enough to be a light to others.


Perhaps, as Christians, the greatest gift we can give a hurting world is to reflect Christ’s light and love to others in darkened areas. I am the light of the world is Jesus' second “I am” declaration. The sharper the Light in our life, the brighter it will reflect to others.  It’s a little like preaching a sermon without using words.

Blessings,
Donna

Check out donnamann.org for good reading.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My 2015 Writing Menu - Tracy Krauss

The month of January is almost over and so far I haven't even begun to tackle my list of writing projects. The truth is, last year was such a productive year for me that I'm still trying to catch my breath. Two devotional books, a collaborative Science Fiction series, my novel NEIGHBORS that came out in nine different instalments over the course of the year, LONE WOLF - the sequel to my novel WIND OVER MARSHDALE, and an illustrated children's book... and my head is still spinning.

One thing that I have been doing is trying to capitalize on some of the promotional opportunities that I just didn't have time for in 2014. I had so many new releases coming down the pipes that I sometimes didn't know what was releasing when. And that's not a good thing. Lesson learned. Hopefully I will do better this year.

If and when I get back to writing rather than just playing promotional catch up, I plan on writing a sequel to NEIGHBORS as well as polishing up my nanowrimo project called WHISPERING WINDS. It will be a third novel in my WIND OVER MARSHDALE series.

That's what's cooking in my writing kitchen. What's on your menu for 2015?

Tracy Krauss is a multi-published author, artist and playwright. Visit her website for more. http://tracykrauss.com 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Yea Thou I Walk Backwards I See His Mighty Power at Work by Glynis M. Belec

My little sister, Sue. May your sleep be peaceful,
free from torment and struggle
     Yea thou I walk through the valley of yet some more terrible news, I know I will get through it. Last Wednesday, my sister died suddenly. Her Celebration of Life was this past Saturday. My heart weeps for my little sister but I know that I will get through it, in time, because God is my refuge and my strength. Right now I will rest beside the still waters so that my soul can be refreshed. It still hurts. But God promises to take away my pain one day. I choose to believe that. 

I will fear no evil because I have been through the basic training and God has shown me how to put on His whole armour. Four months ago when my dad had his heart attack I wondered how we would cope. Dad didn't want to stay in his house any more and the challenge of caring for an elderly parent in his own home was becoming great. Not to mention, We were caring for two households which was a monumental task some weeks. [Well at least it was starting to seem that way]. Then God opened wide the door. Our house that had been for sale for almost a year just wasn't selling. So we took it off the market. One hour after the decision was made for Dad to move in with us, his house sold. At first I was baffled. But then I realized that our original intention when my hubby and I put our home up for sale, was to downsize. If our house had sold that would have meant there would have been no room for Dad to move in with us. God wasn't kidding when He said: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. . ."

For thou art with me, is a very true reassuring statement of fact. Each time I start to sink, the Lord lifts me up. My son-in-law, who is very dear to my heart, was diagnosed with testicular cancer about nine months ago. It was another devastating blow to our family, but the presence of God was surely with me as we dealt with yet another challenge. But all through the journey, I could feel the Holy Spirit divvy out the blessed hope so vital to positive healing. We remain hope-filled and grateful. 



Thy rod and thy staff they really do comfort me just as God promised. And with that comfort comes sweet relief. His rod continues to be my guide and helps balance me as I traverse the rocky terrain we call life. About a year and 9 months ago, just after we learned that my hubby has CLL - Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia, I felt that I would surely trip and fall. How could I possibly manoeuvre my way through this rocky road? But I soon learned to lean heavily on that rod of God. I was reminded that this was not the first time the Great Shepherd with His secure staff had helped us tackle the rough terrain. I remembered how I trusted God to get me through my own battle with cancer. I knew God would see us through this valley, too. 
 
Who was it anyway, who said to Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials? Seriously?The testing of your faith produces endurance? There are some days I really think I am going to fail the test. And then I read about how endurance has its perfect result, so that you (I) may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. I don't want to be perfect, but I do want to please my Lord. That said, if I need to suffer some more biting news, then I will be ready. I'm going to go dig out the armour. My brain complains because the armour will be cumbersome and foreign. But I am ready to obey. Trust and obey (there is no other way!) 


 Glynis is trying her best to trust and obey these days. She is busy with many projects including marketing her latest children's book - Galloping Gus. Happily she is preparing a colouring/activity book to accompany the popular picture book. Then there are the other thousand writing projects she is working on.  Check out her website to find out what's happening. If you want to just say 'howdy' she would love to hear from you. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ten Books that Changed Me - Kathleen Gibson


For better or for worse, Facebook connects people. On the better side, it provides valuable insights into others. Understandings we didn’t have before: what people are up to, who they love, things they enjoy, even what (and who) influences them.  
Facebook “tag” helps with that. One friend tags some friends with a request. If agreeable, the friends follow through by taking the challenge or making the requested post before passing it on to their friends.

I’m not usually agreeable. So when an avid reader tagged me to post a list of ten books that have impacted my life, I didn’t respond. Honestly, the books listed by others intimidated me. Unlike some, I haven’t read the complete works of Max Lucado, Charles Spurgeon or Leonard Sweet. Not even the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. And most modern literary giants don’t interest me a fig.

Nevertheless, the invitation niggled. As an author myself, I pray to impact people with my words, just as other writers have inspired me with theirs. It seemed only fair to acknowledge those whose works have, over my five decades of reading, contributed to who I am today. But rather than on Facebook, I'm placing my list here. In no particular order of importance (except for the top one) here are ten books that changed (are still changing) me. Check them out – they may change yours too.
1. The Holy Bible – my anchor and life manual, the core of my hope and Christian belief.

2. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White) – Charlotte inspired me, as a primary school student, to live a life that matters even after death.
3. The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis) – This allegorical series stood my spiritual synapses on end. I’m still learning from it.

4. Experiencing God (Henry Blackaby) – gave me a deeper understanding of what it really means to live out my faith.

5. The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizabeth George Speare) – as a child, this book showed me the hazards of making ignorance-based judgments of others.
6. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) – exposed me to the raw beauty and horror of India. Along with other beckonings, God used this book to bring me to India in person.

7. Something More (Catherine Marshall) – broadened my understanding of the Holy Spirit, and enriched my relationship with God.
8. Open Heart, Open Home (Karen Burton Mains) – as a young bride, this book convinced me of the vital role hospitality plays in living out one’s faith.

9. How Then Shall We Live (Francis Schaeffer) – taught me to continually examine my worldview and line it up with my beliefs.
10. Bonhoeffer (Eric Metaxas) – made me realize how far I have to go in my faith, concerning boldness of conviction.

More books belong up there, but I'll stop at ten, with gratitude to God for authors past and present who obeyed their calling to spread good words. They changed my life and because they did, I like to believe the world is different somehow.
Your turn. Got ten?
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Kathleen's books, columns, essays, and radio spots have found homes in hearts and media outlets worldwide. She prays some of those words have made a difference. Find a few at her website, on Facebook, and in other places.
This Sunny Side Up column was previously published in various Western newspapers.
 
 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Another Year ... and I’m Older by Marcia Lee Laycock




One of the negative things about getting older is that you begin to realize there just may not be enough time for you to accomplish all the things you had planned.

That “bucket list” begins to look like a long list of impossibilities. There are so many places in the world you want to see and just not enough time, let alone resources, to allow you to get to them. That house you’ve always dreamed of right on the ocean, that sizeable nest egg tucked away, that perfect health and perfectly situated family, and oh, that breakthrough novel, well ...

Sometimes the dreams come crashing into the brick wall of reality and all we can do is sigh.
But when the future looks all too short it can also be wonderfully focused. Suddenly you don’t want to travel the world, you’d just like to make it to that one special place. The house by the sea might not be possible but a satisfying reno to the one you live in overlooking that little pond will do just nicely. The nest egg tucked away might seem small but then you realize your wants aren’t really needs after all. Your health is allowing you to live well for your age, your family will never be perfect but they are all connected and involved in your life and that novel ... well ...

There is that new tool you’ve just learned to use that will help a lot and there’s that email you just received from someone who read your latest effort. And suddenly there’s that peace that God is not just in His heaven, but right here beside you, involved in your life, teaching, guiding, drawing you close.

And suddenly the sigh turns to a smile because it is enough. No, not just enough, it is all gift, all joy, all reasons to be thankful for the time, the place, the people and purpose He has given you.

Yes, another New Year is under way. And I am older. So I’m humming a simple old chorus - “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). 
****


Marcia Lee Laycock is the author of three novels and three devotional books. Find her on the web:
Website, Amazon , twitter, Pinterest and Smashwords


Sunday, January 18, 2015

10 REASONS WHY I AM PASSIONATE ABOUT MENTORING-by Heidi McLaughlin

It happened sixteen years ago. A young woman came to me and with tears in her eyes asked me if I would mentor her. I was startled. I didn’t know how to respond because I had never officially mentored anyone. Even though I said yes, I had no idea how this “mentoring thing” would evolve. Over the next two years I experienced a journey of discovery and excitement in my spirit that I did not even know existed. I found that as men and women who have godly influence, we are called to mentor. For the women it clearly states in the bible that: “These older women must train the younger women to live quietly, to love their husbands and their children, and to be sensible and clean minded…(Titus 2:4 NLT). I have discovered that when I am obedient to this command, I also grow spiritually and my own life is enriched and fulfilled.
Here are 10 reasons why I am passionate about mentoring.


1.                  Our great God is a creator and we are made in His image. We are fulfilled when we are also creating.  Mentoring gives me an opportunity to partner with God and create new life in another woman.
2.                  God is a God of order and He has a reason for asking us to do something. In the book of Titus it says that: “older women are to teach the younger women.” When I am part of God’s plan for the way He intended this world to work, my own life is enriched,
3.                  As I interact and minister to other women, I realize that the pain, confusion and failures I have experienced in my life, have given me wisdom that I must pass on to younger women.
4.                  I “get to” have an intimate relationship with another women.  We are created for intimacy and this type of close relationship fills that void in my own life.
5.                  I watch life transformation before my very eyes.
6.                  Younger women ask me questions for which I have no answers. This propels me to seek God more by intentionally digging deeper into scriptures, praying more and asking God for wisdom.
7.                  It teaches me to become honest and authentic.
8.                  Mentoring is a mirror for my own life.  When I realize that the woman I am mentoring watches me, it causes me to look at myself through the eyes of God and the other woman.
9.                  Mentoring teaches me what it means to become a godly woman of influence.
10.              Mentoring gives hope, encouragement, love, and wisdom to other women in every stage of their lives. I am in awe that God wants to use me to be his hands, feet and voice that will accomplish His plans and purposes in other women.
Mentoring for me is like skiing free-style. Each woman is unique in her request for me to mentor her and I need to listen to her heart and her need. I have mentored women to help them with their marriages, to teach them out to grow in their spiritual life, how to overcome being a “child of divorce”, how to live a Christian life after being in a cult, how to survive with 5 small children. And so on and so on. Each woman’s story is precious and distinctive. As Christian writers we have powerful wisdom and insights into helping younger writers craft their words and stories.

As women of influence it is up to us to look a younger woman in the eye and say, “How can I best help you in your journey?” Then let God help you forge the path.
   
Heidi McLaughlin lives in the beautiful vineyards of the Okanagan Valley in Kelowna, British Columbia. She is married to Pastor Jack and they have a wonderful, eclectic blended family of 5 children and 9 grandchildren. When Heidi is not working, she loves to curl up with a great book, or golf and laugh with her husband and special friends. You can reach her at: www.heartconnection.ca




Saturday, January 17, 2015

AS A PERSON THINKS SO SHE WRITES by Susan Harris




A writer must be a thinker. Many, myself included at one time, na├»vely concur that thinking occurs naturally, but thinking is a process that can be taught, and often must be taught. You can broaden your thinking, and hence enhance your writing, by stretching the horizons of your thoughts. Below is a short excerpt about my experience in holistic thinking from my new book "10½ Sketches: INSIGHTS ON BEING SUCCESSFUL RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE which was released on Jan 1.

"In his book, Six Thinking Hats, de Bono describes the tool that is effective for both group discussion and individual thinking, using six differently colored "hats". Our brains think in a number of ways and we learn in a variety of ways, thus de Bono identifies six directions in which our brain can be challenged.

Insight : One can mentally switch hats for every decision, conversation or meeting to redirect thoughts more productively.

The Blue hat manages the thinking process. When wearing this hat, one asks questions like: What is the topic at hand? What are we thinking? What are the goals?

The White hat focuses on information: What are the facts? What information do we have right now?

The Red hat represents emotions: What are the gut feelings, the loves and hates, the fears?

The Black hat symbolizes judgment: What are the cautions and difficulties?

The Yellow hat shows the bright side: What are the positive aspects, the benefits?

The Green hat signifies creativity: Where's the growth? What are the possibilities, options and new ideas?

The six hats are associated with parallel thinking, that is, there is no overlap of thought.
Insight: Regular use of the hats makes it an unconscious process. Engaging in the symbolic act of removing a hat and putting on a different one while naming the color aloud helps one switch focus.
You can generate holistic thinking in a group or individual setting by use of the hats. You can become a more effective writer as you deepen your thinking.

Insight: Caution - Since an individual does not think one way all the time, it is important to keep in mind that each hat must be used for a limited time only. In the natural way of thinking, one can easily overlook certain important considerations, and wearing the hats allows that person to ensure that he has given conscious thought to areas that may have been overlooked."
  


An excerpt from "10½ Sketches: INSIGHTS ON BEING SUCCESSFUL RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE" released on Jan 1, 2015. Available at Amazon worldwide. http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Harris/e/B007XMP4QS
Susan Harris is a former teacher and the author of six books. www.susanharris.ca/

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