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Friday, April 29, 2011

UP FROM THE GRAVE (Freelance Friday)

1. Rising from dead
2. Revival of something old or long disused

Synonyms: rebirth, revival, put back into use


Definitions? Wait a second. Am I at the right blog? This doesn't sound like a "Carol" post.

Well it is. It's actually my first post as part a blog chain with my friends at (see the links to the left and read them all).

Our blog theme for April is "resurrection." Originally, I wrote a very clever post about zombies. Don't worry. I related it back to Jesus. But upon reflection, it occurred to me that zombies as my first Christian Writers post might scare away my blog chain friends. So, here's my grown-up attempt at a more "scholarly" post.

Back to the dictionary.

When thinking about resurrection, I wondered if there was something else besides Jesus’ resurrection; something inherent in the word itself that might be an encouragement to us. I found the following:

Types of Resurrection

Jesus’ physical resurrection is the foundation of our Christian assurance of eternal life with Him. But His physical resurrection is also a metaphor for three types of spiritual resurrections.

Resurrection means “rebirth.” Before we accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation, we were dead to Him. When we believed, Christ raised us to life with Him. It is the underlying meaning of the phrase “born again in Christ.” We were dead spiritually. We are born again. We have been spiritually resurrected.

Resurrection also means “revival.” If life has gotten in the way, worries may have overtaken us. We may have stopped seeking after God. We may no longer be attuned to His leading or feel Him pursuing our hearts. Sometimes Christ needs to raise us BACK to faith. We may need to ask Him to resurrect our faith. And then trust that He will.

Resurrection also means, “to put back into use. “ Perhaps, our faith is strong, but God has something new for us to do. A way He can use us for His purpose. Are we attuned to the leading of the Holy Spirit? Can we sense when God is trying to resurrect us for His purpose?

The Timing of Resurrection

Jesus spent three days in the grave. The God of the universe could have let Jesus die on the cross and then bring him back to life immediately. But He didn’t. Jesus lay dead for three days before his physical resurrection. We don’t know why he lay dead for three days. We don’t need to know why.

What we can apply to our faith is, in addition to trusting God to bring us back to spiritual life, we must also trust in His timing. God is able to spiritually resurrect us immediately. But WE may need time for a divine process to take place within us. God meets us where we are and at whatever level of our faith.

Then He allows us the time we need for the resurrection to occur.

Jesus’ Example of Resurrection

Jesus was our example not only in life. He was also an example to us in His death and resurrection. We are born again in Christ; resurrected from the death of sin. He can resurrect faith that may have faltered.

And Christ can raise us to new life again and again to new use for Him each day.

Rise up and sing praise for His ongoing work of resurrection in us. Up from the grave He arose…

PRAYER: Thank you Jesus for the cross. But not for the cross only, but also for your resurrection, giving us full assurance of your victory over death. Please resurrect our faith when we need it. Please help us be patient for your timing. Please utilize us for new uses that are for your glory. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Have you experienced resurrection in Christ? Have you had your faith renewed? Are you being put to new use by Christ?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? (Writing Wednesday)

Our book club just finished Angela Thomas’ latest book, Do You Know Who I Am? And Other Brave Questions Women Ask.

Unanimously, we agreed that we loved the book. Even those in our group who don’t generally read non-fiction thought it was worth the effort to think it through.

In her book, Thomas asks 12 questions that we women pose as we strive to live godly lives but feel inadequate to the task. With a seminary degree and years of bible teaching behind her, Thomas does an excellent job of combining relevant scripture and narrative in a way that speaks to women’s hearts and assures them that they are loved by the God of the universe.

While many authors use examples of people who have accomplished enormous things in their lives, Thomas looks at the daily lives of typical women. She freely uses examples from her own life, opening her heart to us. She uses examples from other women’s lives, also. All combine to encourage us that although our trials may seem small to the world, to us they are big. And they are important to God.

Each of Thomas’ 12 chapters begin with a question that God can answer based on His character. They are:

  • Do You Know I Am Afraid to Dream Big?....He Is Worthy
  • Do You Know I Am Invisible?....He Is My God Who Sees
  • Do You Know I Am Trembling Inside?....He Is My Comfort
  • Do You Know I Am Worn Out?....He Does Not Grow Weary
  • Do You Know I Am Suffering with a Thorn?...He Is My Sufficiency
  • Do You Know I Am a Sinner?....He Is My Savior
  • Do You Know I Am Lonely?....He Is Here
  • Do You Know I Am Undisciplined?....He Is My Strength
  • Do You Know I Am Hesitant?....He Is Generous
  • Do You Know I Am Ordinary?....He Is My King and Father
  • Do You Know I Am Broken?....He Is My Redeemer
  • Do You Know I Am Disappointed?....He Is My Hope

Thomas finishes each chapter with the focal point of that chapter, posed as a question to God. “Do you know I am …” Then she writes, as if God were answering the question, by focusing on one attribute of God’s character revealed through scripture. This sweetly-written chapter ending is as if it comes from God’s heart directly to the heart of each woman reading.

Thomas’ writing style is light and humorous at times; touching and tender at others. Her grace and openness to share her own pain and vulnerability give the reader courage to look at her own pain and find comfort, knowing that God sees the pain and stands ready to love us through it.

Angela Thomas’ book, Do You Know Who I Am?  is a *Life Encourager book*.  (See below for my review designations.) You can find out more about Ms. Thomas and her books at her website:

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for teachers who understand your scripture and your heart and can share it with others. Thank you for the lessons you wish us to learn. Help us learn them. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Have you read this book? Tell us your thoughts.



DESIGNATION                   WHY IT’S GIVEN

Life Encourager                 Thought provoking, moves you forward in your faith
Life Changer                       A must-read; may require courage to read it
Just for Fun                         Something light, but with a solid foundation of faith
Can’t Put Down                 A novel that is just that—you can’t put it down
Read Along                         A pick-up-anytime, good read


Monday, April 25, 2011

LIVING LARGE (Meditation Monday)

In the past few months, several Christian books have fallen into my lap. Christian agents, editors, friends and pastors have echoed their theme: God wants us to dream big dreams and live a large life for Him.

Many of us are prevented from dreaming big dreams because of fear. We fear putting our dreams above other things in life. We fear that we are incapable. We fear we will fail. We fear other people will laugh at our dreams. Or will laugh if we fail.

God gave us our one and only lives on this side of eternity in order to love and obey Him. And to bring Him glory in everything we do. Because He deserves all the glory we can give Him and more.

Marianne Williamson, in her “Everyday Grace” says: “I was meant to shine, as children do. I was born to make manifest the glory of God that is within me.”

Are we afraid to live large for God? Do we feel safer living a small life? Do we think if we live small, we will remain unnoticed?

God notices.

Sometimes we worry about our calling. We think, as Christians, we need to listen for that one big thing Jesus is calling us to do for Him. But could the word “calling” refer to something else? Something—in addition to or instead of—the one big thing?

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:9 that God has called us to a fellowship with Jesus. God has “called us.” If He called us, isn’t that, too, a “calling”? We have been called to live for Him. Our calling may not necessarily be to “do one big thing” for Him. Perhaps our calling is to “live one big life” for Him.

Maybe it means both. But until such time as we hear God calling us to “one big thing” we’d sure better be living our “one big life” for Him.

We can dream big dreams. Not for pride or personal accomplishment. But because dreaming big, and working toward those big dreams, brings glory to Him. We can make manifest the glory of God within us.

For He is worthy.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, you know we have dreams. Help us have dreams for you. Thank you for this one and only life you have given to us on this side of eternity. Thank you for calling us. Help us live large for you today. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have dreams you are afraid to dream? What are they? What first step might you take today toward living large for God?

Friday, April 22, 2011


I love Easter. It celebrates the day my Lord proved His power over death. It represents second chances (and 102nd chances). It represents my assurance that I will spend eternity with Jesus.

I also love Easter because I was born on Easter Sunday. Easter brought literal new life to me. Easter hops along the calendar from year to year, almost never landing on the same date twice. Without getting technical, I'll just say that I'll never have another birthday on Easter Sunday again.

But I still love the holiday. Yes, I agree that Easter has become a commercialization of one of our most sacred holy days. But that doesn’t mean those commercialized symbols still don’t mean something beneath the flash and glitzy packaging. So think about three of our top Easter symbols: Easter eggs, jellybeans and chocolate bunnies. 

  • Eggs, because they represent new life. Hard boiled like us.

  • Jellybeans, tiny eggs, also represent new life. And like us, they've got a hard shell on the outside and a heart of jelly inside.

  • Bunnies, with their propensity to multiply also represent new life.  Chocolate outside represents our darkness; I don’t need to even comment on how the air-filled emptiness inside is like us.

In spite of commercialization, I think Jesus would love the colored eggs and jellybeans and chocolate bunnies. Would He love the goofy guy dressed up in the fake fur bunny suit and oversized pants, passing candy to the little kiddies? Yes, Jesus would love him, too. Because that's the main point of Easter.

Jesus' unwavering love for us. Unexplainable outside of His love.

So bring on the colored eggs, the jellybeans and the chocolate bunnies. Even bring on the goofy guy in the fake fur suit and oversized pants. Bring it all on. Because however we celebrate it or whether other people "get it," Easter is for everyone.

And hopefully, one day everyone will understand.

PRAYER: Jesus, thank you for the cross. Thank you for then proving your power over death. And thank you for the new life we have in you. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have special celebrations that your family uses to observe Easter? What does the holiday mean to you?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


We’re so clever. Ancient man wrote on unusual things—cave walls, dead animal skins, strips of dried papyrus. Finally we came up with the idea of smashing trees into pulp and spreading it into thin sheets we call paper.

We’ve also been clever with writing implements. We scraped coal-coated sticks on cave walls. We crushed rubies and emeralds to adorn insides of tombs. We crafted styli to gouge divots in wet clay. Animal quills were dipped in ink. Fountain pens leaked in jacket pockets. Ball point pens blobbed ink across paper. Felt pens created permanent artwork on clothing, living room walls and children’s faces. Typewriters clickety-clacked. Computers crashed. Cell phones texted.

Hold on. Back up past the computers and fancy gadgets. Back to the quills.

A quill represents a return to basics. Not as basic as coal on a cave wall. But more basic than a laptop in a coffee shop. It represents timeless writing.

A quill also comes nicely equipped with subtle implications. The feather of a quill can be teasing, ticklish, or soothing. The writing tip of a quill can be blunt, razor-sharp or gouging.

So can our words.

Words are also magical. I don’t mean hocus-pocus. I mean that our words have the power to change people. To inspire, educate and entertain. That’s why my sister website to this blog is named It incorporates the aspects of returning to the basic craft of writing with the magic that words contain.

Our God is the God of miracles. The closest we can get to performing miracles is to try to create something magical. By our words, our actions and our work in this world for Him. As He works through us.

As a Christian, I realize that any talent I have for writing was a gift from God. But He didn’t give it to me for me. He didn’t even give it to me just for the benefit of other people. He gave it to me for His glory. For His purpose. For His agenda.

That’s a weighty responsibility. But with it comes the realization that I am a conduit of His glory. My writing is not about me or any publishing success I have. It’s about how He created me to shine so that others can see Him through me and so they are encouraged to shine for Him, too.

If I shine for God through my writing, He is glorified. As you shine for God through what you do, He is glorified. Turn on your heart light, friend, and let it shine.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the talents you have blessed us with. Please show us how you want to use those gifts for your glory. Attune our hearts and minds to your plan. Help us shine for you. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Even if you’re not a “writer,” you probably write every day—emails, notes of encouragement to others. Do you ever intend to use a dove’s quill and discover later it came from a porcupine? How can you shine for God through your words today?

Monday, April 18, 2011


I was all grown-up before I ever heard the term “life verse.” Folks memorized a verse from scripture that helped them focus their lives for Christ.

I wanted a life verse, too.

I soon discovered that all the really cool Christians had Philippians 4:13 as their life verse. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Yeah. I wanted that life verse, too.

But God kept getting me stuck on Philippians 4:6-7. “Do not be anxious over anything but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace that passes understanding will fill your heart and mind with Christ Jesus.”

Hmmm…what was God trying to say? That maybe I need to worry less and trust Him more? Probably. Since I had perfected the art of taking my worries out, cradling them in my arms and whispering softly to them. Day after day; night after sleepless night.


Okay, so God knew best. Philippians 4:6-7 became my life verse. Over the years, I kept that verse in my heart, along with jotting it down on slips of paper tucked inside my Bible; post-its slapped on the front of the fridge, scraps taped to my computer, steam-rumpled notes sliding off my bathroom mirror. It was my life verse alright—I’d placed it everywhere, reminding me to give it up to God and let the peace flow.

A funny thing happened. As I gave my worries to God, peace DID flow. Eventually I no longer missed the holding, cradling and whispering. It didn’t happen all at once. But it happened. A little bit at a time. In the amount I was willing to give over to Him, I learned to trust Him more.

God gave me the exact life verse I needed in order to teach me something I needed to learn. The giving up and trusting still isn’t always the automatic, every-time FIRST thing I do. But at least it’s no longer the last.  

Guess what?

God recently gave me a new life verse. From the Book of Esther. Esther? He didn’t give me a Jesus quote? Or something one of the disciples said? Or—dare I hope—the “I can do all things” verse?

Nope. Esther. The one book in the Bible in which God isn’t even mentioned.

Esther 4:14 “Perhaps you have come to royal position for such a time as this.”

Royal position? Queen Carol?

No. Princess Carol. Because I’m the adopted daughter of King Jesus.

This verse reminds me that I belong to Christ. I’m bought and paid for with His blood and more than that, I belong to his family. I’m his child. His daughter. I’m a sister to other Christians. His kid. Daughter of Abba Father God.

Mighty royal position to be in. And I’d better remember that as I go through life.

This verse also reminds me that my focus should be outward. Queen Esther didn’t go to her husband the king to ask for half his kingdom or request a new tiara. She risked her life on behalf of her people. Her motive was outward—the safety and benefit of others.

As a Christian, my focus should be outward too. This verse reminds me to keep my attention on how I can love other people on behalf of the King. How can I encourage others? How can I be part of Jesus’ salvation plan? How can I use my royal position for Him and for others? Right now. Right here where I am.

I like my new life verse. I also like that Jesus took me from an inward focus on my worries to an outward focus on others. It is heart evidence of the growth in my faith.

Little by little, God is showing me that truly, I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Maybe one day that’ll be my ”official” life verse.  But until then, I’ll focus on learning the lessons from this one. And maybe the next.

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us scripture to meditate on and learn from. Thank you for making us teachable and for not giving up on us as we stumble along in our faith. Remind us that we are your adopted children and show us how to live up to the honor of our royal position. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have a life verse? What is it? What does it mean to you? If you don't have one, what one part of your faith do you struggle with? Might that be the focus for a life verse?

Friday, April 15, 2011


Welcome to "Freelance Friday." On Fridays we'll chat about whatever. It might be a devotional. It might be about writing. It might be about kids. Or it might be about...hmmm. Stay tuned and find out.

I delight in small shiny objects.

When I go clothes shopping, I walk into the store, scope out the racks of colored fabric hanging in neat rows. If one sparkles at me, I head straight for it, like a cat pouncing on a bug.

Those of you who know me, understand that I never actually wear sparkly clothing. Nope, solid colored, button-up shirts with collars and simple slacks for me. But the clothing that attracts me glitters. Always.

I get my glitter fix with jewelry. Maybe that's the secret reason why I don't wear glittery clothing. You don’t want to overdo things, too much, right? Let the clothing be the backdrop for the jewels. Yeah, now that's classy.

It's all about the jewelry for me. And there’s a theological reason for that.


I believe that when God created earth, His plan was to fill it with beauty. And He did. Mountains, plains, oceans, lakes, rivers, creeks, ponds and puddles. The cloud-filled sky, whether blue or gray. The grass, trees, flowers, critters. It's all a reflection of the beauty that is God.

But when God was all done covering the earth's surface with beauty that reflected Him, it still waned in comparison to His glory. Since He still had so much of His glorious beauty left, He hid some deep inside the earth.

Over time, as mankind digs deep into God's rich soil, underneath the beauty at the surface of our earth, through all the wiggly worms, the gnarly roots and crumbly dirt, we find sparkling, glittering treasures. We dig them up, dust them off and hold them up to the light, exclaiming, "beautiful!" And we call them "precious."

We name those treasures gold, silver, platinum, copper. Diamond, sapphire, emerald, ruby. They are precious to us. And they are a reflection of God's glorious, excessive beauty.

Yes, this is Carol's theology. But remember Jesus' parable of the man who found a treasure in the ground? He covered it back up. Then he sold everything he owned and bought the land so the treasure could be his. The treasure in Jesus’ parable was the Gospel, the priceless good news of our salvation through Christ.

Carol's parable has two meanings and I admit they aren’t as important as Jesus’. But here they are.

First these hidden treasures show how we can seek God's glory in everything around us. It is everywhere for us to see if only we take the time to look. It is in nature, it is people, it is in God’s Word.  When we find it, it is a sparkling, glittering, precious delight. And it is worth the seeking.

Secondly, these hidden treasures reflect how God has placed a sparkling, precious delight inside each of us. It is up to us, with God’s help, to dig through the dirt, past the worms and the roots and find it. This treasure is our desire to know and love Him. He placed that desire deep inside each of us.

When we recognize our need to love Him, we can let Him dust this treasure off and hold it up to the light. Our internal treasure, our faith in Christ, is a delight to Him and a sparkling light shining God's glory to the world.

It is worth the digging.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for your glory and for the reminders of your beauty around us. Please work in us so that we are a delight to you. Help us seek your treasure above all else. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What treasures in your life do you see as God's sparkling delights?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Welcome to Writing Wednesday. Each Wednesday we’ll look at the craft of writing. But Wednesdays aren’t just for writers. We’ll always bring the subject back to God.

Writing the first draft is agony. Every word has to be gouged from of my brain with a crochet hook and hauled onto the computer screen accompanied by great spasms of moaning, wailing and gnashing of teeth. For other writers, the first draft is the fun part; it’s the revision that’s anguish—trying to make the book resemble the brilliant story sparkling inside their heads.

Children’s author Bruce Coville loves the revision process. In fact, he loves it so much, he says his books only get published because they are “snatched from my quivering fingers by heartless editors.”

As writers, we know that the first draft of a book is meant to get it out of our brains and onto a paper where the words are in front of us and ready to be changed. Each writer has a different process for these revisions, sometimes starting at the global level and looking at structure or plot; sometimes starting small by cutting or expanding threads and subplots. Whatever your process and whether you like revising or hate it, it has to be done.  

Mr. Coville shared some of his thoughts about revision at a recent SCBWI conference. 

1.       He cuts out something on every page of text—maybe a word or phrase, maybe the whole page; but he always cuts something.
2.       He looks for passive voice and weakly-written sentences and turns them into strong writing.
3.       He gets rid of as many adjectives and adverbs as he can and relies instead on action verbs.
4.       Then at some point, he stops revising and declares it “good enough.”

God does the same thing with us. In the ongoing story of our lives here on earth, God continues to work on us, cutting out the bad, reworking the good; expanding our faith and increasing our understanding of Him.

Relating God’s work in us to writing,  

1.       During revision, God cuts out something on every page of our lives—the physical and the spiritual, how we think, feel and act in this world and how we think, feel and act in our relationship with Him.
2.       God looks for passivity and weakness in our lives and trains us to replace them with a desire to actively seek Him and develop strength in our reliance on Him.
3.       God seeks to rid us of the extra, unnecessary clutter in our lives and urges us to action for His kingdom.
4.       God keeps revising us until we are called home to spend eternity with Him. He brings us to the point where we are "made acceptable."

Look at Philippians 1:6 from a writerly point of view:  God “began a good work in you (His rough draft) and will carry it on to completion (God’s revisions) until the day of Christ Jesus” (God’s final draft).

We know God as the author of life. Through human hands, God wrote the “greatest story ever told.” And He spoke the universe into existence. God is the ultimate wordsmith.

As writers, we see how our stories grow better and stronger through the revision process we take them through.  God grows us better and stronger too, through the revision process He takes us through. It’s all part of His perfecting the story of our lives.

And the story will be better because of it.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for being the all-time, number 1, best-selling author of life. Thank you for the revision process you are doing in our lives. Please carry on with the revisions until the day of Christ Jesus. Let our lives reflect the story you want the world to know. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you write? Is the revision process fun or difficult for you? In what ways have you seen God’s hand revising your life and your relationship with Him?

Monday, April 11, 2011


I grew up in a Christian home as a pastor's kid. One ever-present item found on our kitchen table—along with the salt shaker (back when folks used salt), oleo (back when cheaper was more important than healthy) and the daily devotional.

For our family, being Methodist, the devotional was The Upper Room. My father sat at the table every morning, coffee steaming, a bowl of milk and graham crackers munching, Bible open on one side, The Upper Room on the other. I’d tiptoe through the kitchen, making my breakfast, trying not to disturb him, wondering what was so compelling about that small book that made him read it every morning without fail.

Occasionally I flipped through the pages. It didn’t look like much. A scripture, a couple of paragraphs and a prayer. Yet, Dad spent so much time with it. Every day.

After I left home and settled into my own adult morning routine, devotionals were not a part of it. Daily devotionals were probably something only pastors did, I reasoned. I was a “Christian.” I understood the doctrines and believed them, but as for spending time each day with my Lord? Not so much. Especially not first thing in the morning. Even more not so much after young children came into my life and clamored for my morning grogginess.  

Over the years, however, spending those first moments with Jesus have become precious. And one of the best parts of my morning routine is my daily devotional.  Like my dad’s devotional, mine includes a short scripture, prayer and narrative. Usually not quite enough meat for the whole day, but enough to get me going and get me refocused on God.

It occurred to me this last week that the phrase “daily devotional” itself is something to meditate on. Here’s what I discovered.

It is DAILY. A devotional should not just be a now and then salute to the God of the universe. God is with us 24/7. We need to spend time with Him daily.

It is time we DEVOTE. A devotional, while generally short in length, should not be short in the attention we give it. Nor in the time we meditate on it. By starting the devotional in the early part of the day, it helps us align our thoughts to the sacred, giving us a snapshot of scripture to meditate on throughout the rest of the day.

It is an expression of DEVOTION. To our God. It need not take us hours, but if it involves our heart and our mind, it is a small sacrifice of our time and attention, and the first fruits of our morning to our Lord.

As I’m writing this post, I suddenly flashed on the movie, Grease, remembering Olivia Newton John singing alongside a blow-up swimming pool, wistfully admitting that she was hopelessly devoted to John Travolta. If I wake up singing that song tomorrow, I hope God will smile, knowing that by starting my day, each day, with a devotional, it realigns my thinking and affirms that I am hopeFULLY devoted to Him.

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, we thank you for this day made new and for everything you have planned for us today. Help us to be attuned to your leading in all things and to work for your kingdom and for your glory. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Is a daily devotional part of your day? It may not be all you do or read to help you focus on God, but is it a part? What does it mean to you? What is your favorite devotional resource?

THIS POST is an anchor post on the topic of daily devotionals. It begins our “Meditation Mondays” series. Each Monday we will discuss specific devotional resources in publication. We’ll also talk with devotional authors about what they write and where they get their inspiration in order to inspire us. We'll even post a few devotionals here to share. And we’ll generally chat about all things devotional. 

Stay tuned.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Children’s author, Bruce Coville stood at our SCBWI writing conference Saturday and boldly stated, that “children’s writers are people trying to make a living by telling lies to little children.”

That got our attention.

By definition, fictional stories are made up. Technically, they are lies. They are lies told to inspire, entertain or educate. As Mr. Coville pointed out, children may not always obey what adults say, but they will listen to stories because stories are “one heart touching another.”

I agree. We enter the world with no experience upon which to rely. One way children gain empathy for other people, understand new situations and learn a bit about the world around them is through stories.  Situations, seen through the eyes of characters, help mold the personality, morality, and wisdom of the reader. Even the simplest picture book story can teach a child, inspire her and educate her about a part of this big, scary world. And make her feel not quite so small and powerless.

One of my favorite childhood books was The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Its story of loneliness, courage, and friendship is eternal. And it spoke to my heart.

Our family moved every year or two. As a result, loneliness was something I knew well. I was always the new kid; always looking for a friend from within the established groups of BFFs. Burnett made me feel that my loneliness was normal. It was painful, but it was okay to feel it because it was real. The fact that other children felt the same pain, made me somehow feel not so alone. Her book also showed me a glimpse into the joy that friendship could be. It gave me courage to seek friendship one more time, whenever we resettled, and for however long we remained.

The book enlarged my tender heart.

As writers, parents, teachers, grandparents and other stewards of the children God has placed in our lives, we can help nurture them by sharing with them our love of books. Books that will enlarge their hearts and place within them the seeds of faith and hope.  

We can write the best books for children we are able. We can read to children the books we loved. We can love the new books they love and seek to understand why they love them.

In other words, we can tell beautiful lies to our children. And hopefully—in so doing—we can enhance their lives.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of story. We love the way Jesus used stories to teach us truths that are hard to understand. We are your children, no matter our age. Those stories still speak to our hearts. Help us use story to teach the children in our lives. Show us how we can enlarge their hearts for you to fill. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What was your favorite book as a child? What did it mean to you? What is the favorite book of your child or grandchild? Why do you think it’s important to him?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Birthdays are a celebration of life. Yesterday was mine. And I turned…well, older. You want to know how old? Nosey.

Okay, but first you have to understand my family. In the 34 birthdays I’ve celebrated with my husband, he’s yet to present me with a cake sporting all the candles set out neatly in a row. That would be just too normal.

No, hubby has trained the kids in proper birthday candle etiquette, according to his never-too-old-to-play approach to life. Yesterday, they made me a delicious cake with appropriately coded candles, shooting off in all directions—including horizontally. There were:

2 spiral-y orange candles representing                       25 YEARS EACH
1 pink and white striped candle representing         15 YEARS
7 small yellow candles representing                            1 NEGATIVE YEAR EACH

For the total you may have to get out your calculator and use advanced algebra.

No, I don’t feel 58. Usually I feel about 28. Some days I only feel 8. And every day I look at my kids and wonder: “How did they grow up when I haven’t gotten any older myself?”

Do you ever feel that way? As if you’re caught in a time warp, living a perennial childhood and one day someone is going to make you grow up?

I think a time warp mentality is part of God’s plan. As Christians, we start out with a simple faith, drinking it in as if it’s milk. Later as our faith grows, we chew on more difficult theology. Our faith is tested and strengthened. But through it all, as our faith grows stronger, I believe God wants us to continue to love Him with a child-like love.

How does a child love a parent? She loves with trust and hope. He loves eagerly and with everything he is. She grasps her mother’s hand as they step into the often terrifying world. He climbs into his father’s lap and rests his head on his shoulder. She falls asleep in her father’s arms, knowing she will be safe, whatever nightmares may come.

Isn’t that how our faith and trust in our God should be?

Birthdays are a celebration of life. But our life in Christ? It should be forever young at heart.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, renew in my heart a child-like love for you. Help me trust you more, leaning on you in every situation you place me in. Help me retain a love for you filled with eagerness to do my best for you and to love you with everything I am. Help my faith never grow old. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Have you retained a child-like love for Jesus?

Monday, April 4, 2011


Some folks seem to naturally spend their lives figuring out ways to encourage others. You probably have a few encouragers in your life. Terrific people. Trying to help make the world better by making people better or by making people be better at what they do.

Other folks need encouragement. Nothing wrong with that. They have different gifts and different ways they make the world better. You probably have a few folks like that in your life, too.

More likely all of us are a little bit of both--encouragers and needers of encouragement. Or we may be an encourager in one area of life and a needer of encouragement in others.

But everyone needs courage. Because courage is the heart of enCOURAGEment. Sometimes it takes courage to accomplish something. Like fight for what's right. Or write what's right. Or live a right life.

Sometimes it takes more than faith to live a life of faith. It takes encouragement from others whose faith is strong at the moment when your faith is weak. And then recognition that when your faith is strong, it is time to be an encourager for others.

This blog is about encouragement. For each other. For Christian writers. For Christian believers. For Christian parents and teachers who are stewards of one of God's most precious creations--children.

It starts with courage.

As a writer, I'm happiest sitting alone in my office, door closed, tapping happily at the keyboard, the cat purring in rhythm, pausing occasionally to stretch (me) or meow (the cat). The hardest part of being a published author for most of us, is the requirement that we promote our work; market ourselves. Create a "brand" for ourselves and our writing.

"No marketing!" we cry. “Leave me alone. The world can read my work and decide whether they like what I write or not. I write. They read.”

Unfortunately that's not it. Because people can't read what they can't find. And they can't find what you've written if you don't promote your work and market yourself.

Enter Internet marketing.

Yes, that's me shrieking. If I put myself out for the world to see, they'll see—gulp—me. They'll see my faults and foibles. Why should I put myself out there for scrutiny?

That takes courage.

Fortunately, I discovered something about marketing.

Marketing can be like the nerves you get before hosting a dinner party. If you focus on yourself, you'll end up a mushy glob of goop. You'll be worried that those dust bunnies under the TV will roll out precisely when your guest of honor steps past. You'll worry that you forgot to bleach that little drain hole on the inside of the sink-- the spot that’s reflected back into the bathroom mirror. <shudder> You worry that your shrimp isn't fresh; your roast is overdone; you've left the broiler on and the house will blow up. Worry, worry, worry.

But all that worry is about YOU and what you do or don't do.

What if, instead, you focus on your guests? You greet them with the attitude that they're the center of attention. Not the dust bunnies. Not the roast. Focus instead on making them comfortable, at ease and valued.

Voila! Suddenly, hosting a dinner party is no longer a worry about you. It is now a pleasure as you focus on someone else. Magic.

It can be the same with promotion. If you focus on yourself and your fears and inadequacies, it can be a mighty scary thing. And you'll need a heap of courage to get started, stay going, and be successful.

But if you make your internet presence about encouragement, the focus becomes others. You don't need courage in order to help other people find their own courage.

That gem is for you writers out there.

It’s also for the rest of us as well. When we focus on ourselves, we lack courage.

But when we focus on others, we can focus on giving others encouragement; maybe giving them the courage they need, right when they need it.

Whether you are an encourager or a needer of encouragement, the heart of encouragement is courage. Courage to give; ability to receive courage   

Let's encourage others.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? In what areas can you naturally encourage others? Do you? In what areas of life do you need enCOURAGEment? Are you getting it?

Friday, April 1, 2011


Surprised to see me in blog-o-sphere?  No, it's not an "April Fool's Joke."

I’m so un-techie, the idea of blogging made my eyeballs explode. Then I learned something that changed my mind.

“Blog” is short for “web log.”  It’s keeping a log on the web. Journaling. Documenting life. For a left-brained gal who lives for lists AND writing, that was too irresistible to…well, resist!

I learned something else. “Web log” was originally spelled as one word: “weblog.” That means you can divide the word so it reads “we blog.” Suddenly I wanted to be part of that “we.” The “we” that “blogs.”

And now I am.

I blog. You blog. He, she, it blogs. We blog.

Our focus here will be encouragement. Encouragement for Christians. Encouragement for writers. Encouragement for those of us who are stewards of one of God’s most precious creations: children.

As Christians, we’ll chat about the tenants of our faith, our relationship with the Trinity and with each other. As writers, we’ll chat about why we write, what we write and for who. We’ll chat about kids and how we can share with them what we know of this amazing world and our amazing God. Through it all, we’ll discover how we can be an encouragement to others.

And threaded throughout every post will be a way to tie it back to faith.

I have friends who dream about writing a book "one day." Do you have that dream, too? Maybe it's time to wake up and live your dream. Or perhaps you’re already moving along on that writing road. I will be participating in a terrific conference this weekend for children’s writers and illustrators. Next week I’ll share with you the jewels sprinkled throughout the conference by the editors, agents, authors and illustrators who love children.

Until then, if you’re a writer or dream of being one, go to the "For Writers" page on my website There you will find several articles on writing. Maybe one will encourage you.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Are you a Christian? A writer? A teacher or parent? All of the above? In what areas do you need encouragement?