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Monday, May 30, 2011


Today is Memorial Day. For many Americans, it means a day off work. For kids it means a day off school and hints at the excitement to come when every day for the next three months will be a day off school. For others, Memorial Day signals the time to start planning vacations, family reunions, firing up the trusty air conditioner and gathering glass jars to store lightning bugs.

AMERICAN SOLDIERS—Past, Present, Future 

Officially, Memorial Day is a time to remember the men and women who have died protecting the borders, rights and freedom of Americans. It is a time to remember also those men and women who have not died in service, but who have sacrificed for us the freedom part of their lives—being away from family, finding courage amid fear, putting dreams on hold.

For our family, this year is a time to celebrate with our friend, Kedar Choksey. Kedar graduated this year from Sacramento State University, as a member of the Air Force ROTC program. This Saturday he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States’ Air force.

Today we thank the members of the military—past, present and future—and honor them all.


We also remember Jesus. Jesus sacrificed His earthly life in order to preserve our freedom and—not our right; but God’s gift to us—to spend eternity with Him. In the heavenly battle between good and evil, Jesus is our Commander in Chief. The Book of Revelation shows us that he rides into battle ahead of the heavenly angel warriors.

He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.
(Revelation 19:13-14)

There is a good old Christian hymn, called "Onward, Christian Soldiers." It reminds us that we Christians are called to be soldiers for Christ—faithful, obedient and disciplined in our faith. As we live our faith, we are to march into the world, with the cross of Jesus before us, like a banner.

This Memorial Day, let us also remember the many Christians who have died for their faith. They have given us powerful examples to reinforce the foundational strength of what we believe. And we thank them for their sacrifice and their example.


Today we remember and honor the American men and women who died to ensure our political freedom in this country. And we remember and honor the American men and women who today and tomorrow are fighting to ensure our political freedom.

We also remember and honor Jesus who died to ensure our spiritual freedom and our place in heaven and who continues to work in our lives by the Holy Spirit, to free us to live for Him.

God himself never forgets us nor forsakes us. For God, every day is Memorial Day, because every day He remembers us. As it should be with us for Him.

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, thank you for the lives of the men and women who protect our freedom. Be with their families; encourage and strengthen them. Thank you, Jesus for dying to protect our souls. Remind us of your love, Holy Spirit, so that we can be encouraged and can encourage others in their faith. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have a family member who has died in the service of our country? Or someone you know who is currently setting aside their personal plans for our sake? “Thank you” to them! 

Friday, May 27, 2011


As promised, I am adding new names to the list of names so that we can pray for people we love based on the meaning of their names. Here are five new names. If you missed my post last week, learn what this is about.

I will continue to compile names and create prayers. If you would like a name added, please use the “Comment” button at the end of this post and send me a name or two. I will research the names, create a prayer and add it to the list.

After today, these five names will be added to the list. You can access the continuing list by clicking on the button at the top, labeled “PRAYING NAMES.”

I pray you and your loved ones will be blessed.

~ ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ ~ 
BRANDON; BRENDON: broom hill

Heavenly Father, I pray that Brandon will live his name. I pray that he will trust in Jesus to sweep his heart clean and maintain his life in a manner pleasing to God. I pray also that just as the woman in Luke swept the house and searched until she found the lost coin, that Brandon would never stop seeking God. I pray also that Brandon’s life will be an example to help others find the treasure that is you. 

CARLA, KARLEN, CARLY: strong; free

Heavenly Father, I pray that Carla will live her name. I pray that she will be strong in her faith in you and that she will understand the freedom she has in Christ. I pray also that her strong faith will be an example to others who will see Jesus through her and seek Him themselves.

JENNIFER, JENNY, JENI, GINNY, JENA:  Smooth, white wave

Heavenly Father, I pray that Jennifer will live her name. I pray that her life will be smooth, without storms at sea or rough waters. I pray that she would ride on the living water of Jesus and trust that He will keep her afloat. I pray also that Jennifer would be a route for others to travel on their own journey to Jesus.

KIMBERLY, KIM: The meadow of the royal fortress

Heavenly Father, I pray that Kimberly will live her name. I pray that she will live a life of royalty, knowing that she is the daughter of the King. I pray that she will look to you to be her strong fortress. I pray that she will lie down in the sweet, restful meadow of your love. I pray also that her life will reflect her faith in you and that she will be a strong, yet restful source of encouragement to others.


Heavenly Father, I pray that Richard would live his name. I pray that he will be known as a godly man who leads others to your salvation. I pray that he will be strong in his faith. I pray also that he will understand and rely on you as the one true leader of his life.   

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, continue to show us ways we can pray for the people in our lives. We thank you for prayer and for your assurance that you hear and know the concerns of our hearts. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?  Do you have someone you'd like to pray for based on the meaning of their name? Click on "Comment" below and let me know.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I’m a songbird. 

Well, I’m not a bird. But I do sing. Not professionally. Some days not even very well. But I sing anyway.

I remind myself of David and his dancing before the Lord. From his wife Michal’s comments, David never would have made it past the first week on Dancing with the Stars. But what he lacked in grace or style, he evidently made up for in enthusiasm.

That’s me when it comes to singing. In fact, just try and stop me from singing! I sing all day, every day. Sometimes out loud but always in my head. It can be very annoying, especially when the song that’s stuck in my head is a jingle from a TV ad. Other times it’s a song, I only know the first line to. In fact, I’ll confess right here that I evidently know the first line of every song ever written. But only the first line.

I also sing in my sleep. I know this because when I wake up during the night, that same song I fell asleep to is still running through my head.

Remembering the wisdom that if life hands you a lemon…oh, no! Now I’m singing that 1960’s classic, Lemon Tree.


Like me, you’ve probably had days when you’ve had a song stuck in your head. When I find myself singing an annoying, silly ditty, I stop myself, pick a nice hymn or contemporary Christian song, stick it on the CD player of my brain and suddenly, my annoying habit has become a way to pray and focus on God.

Did you read my post last week about praying the meaning of names of loved ones? Here’s the post

Just as I discovered the joy of praying names, I have discovered joy in praying songs. Singing a hymn throughout the day is one way I can pray unceasingly, without forcing myself to do anything unusual or unnatural.  The trick is to get the right song stuck in your head.


When I wake in the morning, I often find myself singing Cat Steven’s  Morning has Broken. Did you know it’s a song about God’s creation? Listen to the lyrics and chances are it’ll set you off in prayer. You’ll thank God for the new day He has created. Ask Him to use you in whatever way He has planned.

When I sit down to write out a prayer for the Christian Writers forum I’m a member of, I often begin by singing “We gather together (on this site) to ask the Lord’s blessing” (on our writing). Singing that hymn is a reminder that I’m part of a community and that we gather together online to encourage each other and to ask for God not only to bless, but to guide and inspire our writing for His purpose.

When I go for a walk, I begin praying in the Spirit by singing the Doxology. These simple words remind me  that all blessings flow from our Triune God.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him, all creatures here below.
Praise Him above—ye heavenly hosts.
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. 

The Doxology is also a reminder that, I’m joining in a heavenly sing-along. 

In fact, any time I find myself singing a song that doesn’t praise God or remind me that He’s in charge, I will not worry about finding the perfect song. I can simply sing the Doxology and it brings me back in line with Him and my place in His creation.

When I pray for a sick friend, I can sing There is a Balm in Gilead throughout the day and be reminded to pray for her continuously.

When I need courage for a struggle, I can sing Onward Christian Soldier.  

When I feel myself not as loving toward someone else, I can sing Steven Curtis Chapman’s Fingerprints of God to remind myself that the person is God’s creation, too.

And when I just want to praise God, there’s Amazing Grace, For the Beauty of the Earth, Fairest Lord Jesus, and The Halleluiah Chorus. Be grateful you’re not inside my head when I’m singing that one. It’s quite an energetic—if not entirely harmonic—experience!


There are many ways to pray. Jesus gave an example of one form of prayer that we can follow, when He gave us The Lord’s Prayer. Start with praise and recognition of where God resides and that He is in chargeàrequest what we needàrequest forgiveness and protectionàaffirm God’s kingdom, power and eternal character.

We can also jot down people and circumstances that need prayer and pray through them.

We can sit quietly and let the Spirit lead our prayer wherever He sees it should go.

We can pray for others based on the meaning of their names.

And we can pray unceasingly throughout the day by singing songs of joy, petition and praise. Even if you're singing praise songs in your head, God can hear them because the Holy Spirit is right there inside your head, too listening. And probably smiling even if you miss a few of the notes.

We don’t have to be named Celine to sing songs that will be lifted to God in prayer. Just as God loved David despite his lack of a royal choreographer, so will He love our prayer songs to Him.

Keep singing.

NOTE: There are some terrific websites that provide the music and lyrics for hymns. Net Hymnal allows you to search for the name of a hymn. The site will not only bring up the lyrics, but will play a digital version of the song and give you historical background of the writer and musician.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for creating prayer so we can communicate with you. Thank you  for allowing us many forms of prayer. However we pray, please look to our hearts and understand that when we sing praises to you, they come from the child-like love in our hearts for you. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have a favorite hymn or contemporary Christian song? What is it? Can you use that song as a form of prayer that you can sing unceasingly throughout the day? 

Monday, May 23, 2011


We know God loves us. He blesses us daily in infinite and unfathomable ways. We have evidence of His love: creation, His gifts, our talents, our family and friends, Jesus’ sacrifice for our redemption.

But do we feel His love in a personal way?

We love God in return. We love Him for who He is and all He’s done. We love Jesus for his example and his teachings and sacrifice. We love the Holy Spirit who we acknowledge as our companion, our guide, our counselor and friend.

But do we feel love for the three persons of the Trinity in a personal way?

Showing our love isn’t the question. We can show our love by giving ourselves, our worries, our blessings, our sacrifices, our lives over to Him. The simple trust and obedience at the heart of Christianity is the purest way to show our love. We can also show our love by loving others in His name, serving others, sharing the Gospel, being His hands and feet in this world.

No, showing our love isn’t the question. The question is, do we feel His love and our love for Him? For me, the key to understanding how I feel God’s love and my love for Him has to do with how God created us and where love resides.
I love chocolate. That love starts on my taste buds, moves down to my stomach and zaps north, creating neurons stored inside my brain. (Okay, you scientists, please re-explain this for us!) 

I love a walk on the beach. That love starts with my vision of the endless horizon, the smell of the seaweed on the shore, the taste of salt spray on my lips, the rhythmic sound of the waves crashing to the shore and back, the feel of wet sand squishing between my toes. That love ends up stored inside my memory.  
My love for my children, my husband, my friends and family starts with commitment, expands with experiences and time spent together and develops into relationships. That love ends up stored someplace deep inside my heart.

But my love for God didn't start on my tongue or my vision or even in my heart. God placed a love for Him and a desire to know and love him more, within my very soul.

My love for God can grow as a result of a developing relationship with Him but it was always there because He placed it there when He chose me. My love for God is part of who I am.  

Love for my children and love for my God both develop because of experience and relationship. But they reside in different parts of me.

My love for people is heart love.

My love for my God is soul love.

We say we have a “heart” for this or that. We say we “love” this person or that thing. But what do we say about our soul? Our soul is more than what we like, what we do and who we interact with. Our soul is who God made us to be.

Once we are past our love for children or friends or country; once we have exhausted our desire for blessings and things and success and joy; beyond all that stands our ingrained longing to know and love God. He placed it in our souls before we were born. That love remains in our souls throughout eternity. To know and love God is our ultimate desire.

After we are gone from this world, after our earthly bodies have crumbled into dust, after everyone we love has died, our soul is what will remain. Our heart will be no more. But if we love God, have accepted Jesus’ salvation and have allowed the Holy Spirit into our lives, then who we ultimately are—our soul—will spend eternity loving God.

God speaks the language of love perfectly because He speaks to our soul. If we are quiet; if we allow our hearts and our minds to listen, our soul can hear him whisper.

And our soul can respond.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us to feel our soul love for you. Bring it out of the deepest part of us and into the light where we can praise you for it. Show us more of you so that we can worship and praise you more. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Have you accessed this soul love for God? How do you describe it?

Friday, May 20, 2011


Today’s post is part of the monthly blog chain with Our theme is “journey,” commemorating the journey begun by Lewis and Clark to explore and map the Louisiana Territory. Each of us has taken the word “journey” in whatever direction we feel inspired. Click on the links to the right and read what my friends have to say.


I’m a lover of books. As a child, I’d head to the library on Saturday and drag home as many books as my library card allowed. I’d devour them during the week and be back the next Saturday gathering a new pile. Over the years, I harbored a secret desire to write some of those books myself.

One day, when our kids were at an age when they needed fewer hours being hovered over, after hubby and I had wound up a business that no longer needed my attention, and after I reached the age when I was searching for that next big challenge to tackle, hubby suggested I write.

“Write? Like a book?” I stared at him open mouthed.

“Sure, why not?” He asked.

To which I responded…well, actually I had no response at all. Rather, it got me thinking.

And then it got me sitting. In the office chair. In front of the computer. With my hands on the keyboard.
My fingers began to move. Every day for 3 months. And then I had it. A book I had written all by myself. And it was good. And it was funny. And it was mine.

Okay, it was a 400-page middle grade novel from which you can deduce it wasn’t that good. But it was funny and it was mine and it was the beginning of my love of writing and creating books.

This month as I’ve been thinking about my writing journey, I forced myself back into that place where I started 11 years ago. As I was reminiscing, I found something which made me smile.

Tucked away in a corner of my word document files, was a folder neatly titled “words for said.” My very newbie writer self had created a list of words I could use instead of saying “said.” You know, those dialogue tags where one character says:

“Hey, Joe,” Bob said. “How are you?”

In my eagerness to write fabulous dialogue, I figured I needed amazing words to describe how my characters spoke. So I created “the list.” Here it is:

Answered, announced, asserted, affirmed, argued, alleged, appealed, articulated, acknowledged, blurted,  blasted, bellowed, brought up, chirped, clucked, claimed, cited, confessed, cried, cried out, cheered, contended, clarified, declared, disclosed, described, divulged, disputed, expressed, echoed, howled, hooted, inquired, insisted, imparted, mentioned, murmured, muttered, notified, pronounced, pointed out, pled, piped, proclaimed, professed, quipped, quoted, retorted, replied, revealed, remarked, recited, recounted, rumored, returned, responded, said, stated, spoke, swore, specified, stressed, shrieked, shouted, screeched, told, uttered, voiced, whispered, whooped, yammered, yelped

Did you notice they are in alphabetical order? In my actual list, they are also set out in tidy columns and separated by letter of the alphabet—i.e., all words beginning with “a” are grouped together. I’m so utterly left-brained. I’m surprised they weren’t color coded.

I mean, really—how many times will one of my characters “hoot” something to another character who will then “whoop” his response?

It didn't take me long to realize my list was silly. By that time, I had revised my book to delete all the clucks, hoots, chirps and yammers. My characters were people, after all, not animals.

I finally understood that “said” is an invisible word to readers. It’s not boring if the characters do all their talking using “said.” It’s comforting. Other words are simply distracting.

Before long however, a writing group discussion developed over whether a writer should say, “he said” or “said he.” What? Oh, dear, now the order is important? 

Not really. Consistency is more important, I decided. Use “he said” or “said he” but try not to use both. Keep it invisible by keeping it consistent. Now we were getting somewhere.

Ultimately, my writing journey has taken me to a place where I prefer not using “said” at all. Rather, I prefer action tags to clue the reader into who is speaking. For example:

Bob extended his hand. “Hey, Joe, how are you?”

When I opened that “words for said” file today I cringed and then smiled at the realization of how far I’ve come as a writer; how much I’ve grown; how much I’ve learned. And that’s just looking at one single word and understanding how to use it. The dictionary is filled with words. And the writing life is waiting to be filled with lessons learned.

Nonetheless, in writing, as in life, you never know how far you’ve come until you look behind you and see the distance you’ve covered.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the journey you take us on in life. Thank you for lessons learned and lessons yet to be learned. Thank you for making us teachable. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do you have a lesson to share that you learned about writing?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


We’re very happy to have Debbie Dillon with us today. Debbie is a Christian writer with a beautiful blog and a brand new book. Thank you, Debbie for being here. <applause>


CAROL: Debbie, I’ve enjoyed your blog, at Writin' 4 Him Cafe. How long have you been blogging?

DEBBIE: Thank you for taking the time to read it, Carol.  I started it in January of 2010.

CAROL: What led you to start blogging?

DEBBIE: It began as a journal of my writing endeavors, mainly to keep me focused on my goals, and because it was what so many other writers and authors were doing.  I'd just attended a book fair where agents and authors spoke about the necessity of building a platform.  They listed all the do's and don'ts of querying, formatting book proposals, what NOT to say in a cover letter, etc., and maintaining a writer's blog was one of the little boxes I was told needed to be check off if I ever hoped to be published. 

So, I did.  However, I quickly realized that even though I had a few publishing credits to my name, I hadn't learned nearly enough yet about the publishing process, nor had I acquired enough success stories to keep a reader's attention based on that.  Ultimately, a blog about writing wasn't what I was about.  Writing is such a personal thing, and narrowing myself to what I thought I was supposed to be doing only stifled the voice of my heart.

I remember being frustrated for a time about what to actually share with the world through my desire to write.  I knew I wanted to blog, but was really struggling with what direction I should take with it. So, I woke up one morning, and the phrase "float on the breath of God" wasn't whispering sweet and soft in my head - it was pounding...over and over!  The phrase didn't stop all morning. 

I believe that was the day I decided to turn Writin'4 Him Cafe into a ministry to encourage others...and to write from my heart instead.  I knew my focus had definitely changed, so I prayed about it asking God to give me the words to carry out His messages.  The "writing endeavors" would come, I figured, and I would share my praises to God for each one.  But in that one phrase, I'd been given a passion and a task to share with all who would listen; the blog wasn't supposed to be about me and my quest for publication.  It was about taking the ordinary situations of everyday life and sharing the many ways in which our awesome Savior invites us to float on the breath of God - in essence, lean not on our own understanding...(Proverbs 3:5-6).

 CAROL: Very cool story, Debbie. Could you restate the theme of your blog for us then?

DEBBIE: I've always been one to seek out the quiet corners, looking for those stolen moments between the rush and the busy stuff of life, and I want my blog to be just that for others; the quiet place to sneak off to for just a little while. The idea of sitting at a quaint table for 2, or on an overstuffed couch sharing wonderful conversation over delicious coffee appeals to most women, and I want that feeling to come through with each post.  I want women to know what to expect when they visit my little piece of cyber space.  Hopefully, they feel a warm invitation to join me over a cup of their favorite blend, listen to soothing music, and rejoice in the fact that we're not alone in our roles as moms, wives, daughters, sisters and friends.  We are human.  We make mistakes, but we are forgiven.  We are loved.  Many of us are writers, bloggers.  But we're all daughters of a merciful, loving God.

CAROL:  In what way do you hope to touch your readers?

DEBBIE: Through my blog, I hope to touch the hearts of women; to share tiny doses of hope and encouragement.  I find that many women seem to feel very alone in their daily challenges.  They may be surrounded with people who need them or depend on them for one reason or another, but who is really there for a struggling sister in Christ when she needs to vent or share what's on her heart?  I think women need to know that others identify with them and their struggles, and that they are definitely not alone. 

And, for some, reading the words written on the screen is sometimes the tool that causes them to reach inside themselves deep beyond the smiles, beneath the "I-can-do-it-all" surface and admit how desperately they need to rely on God.  When I've exposed myself, my weakness and vulnerability in a blog post, many others can relate and that's how the bonds of friendship are formed.

 CAROL: I’m sure you encourage many women who read your blog. In what ways have you been blessed or encouraged in return?

DEBBIE: I absolutely LOVE when I'm struggling to find ideas for a blog post and just can't seem to string the words together.  But somehow, some way God will close the gap and bring it all together.  Then, once it's up and posted, I'll receive that one precious comment from someone telling me that the post I barely squeaked out was meant for them...right that moment.  I am blessed beyond words when I can be the fingers pounding on the keyboard to relay something I believe is from the Lord to that one person who needs to hear it.

CAROL: Your style of writing is wonderful. You have a fine synergy of lyrical writing and humor that women can relate to. Do you write primarily for women? What genres do you enjoy writing?

DEBBIE: Oh my gosh - what a compliment.  Yes, I do write primarily for women, although I do have several "followers" on my blog who are men. 

I never really thought I'd write non-fiction.  From my very first dreams of being an author (somewhere in my teens), I'd always imagined myself surrounded by shelves filled with titles from my fiction series; sort of like the Mandie series or Nancy Drew Mysteries or even Trixie Belden. 

Unfortunately, I've struggled for years over the same fiction projects, mainly because I like historical fiction which takes quite a bit of research.  Non-fiction just seems to flow much easier for me.  

CAROL: I see your first book, Walking in Son-Light is out. Congratulations! Please tell us what inspired you to write the book?

DEBBIE: Thank you!  Walking in Son-Light is a compilation of about 40 or so selected blog posts.  I wrote it after several requests to provide the messages in hard copy form to share with mothers, grandmothers, friends and sisters who might not otherwise have access to it.  I'm excited to learn that this book has been shared with both believers and "pre-Christians."  I also purposely published it in large print to accommodate readers in all seasons of life.

I have to share that I've been blessed with some very strong Christian woman in my life who have greatly impacted me and my way of thinking.  Writing this book was in part a tribute to them; how they've loved me, supported me and encouraged me through the years. 

CAROL: How long did it take you from inception to publication of Walking in Son-Light?

DEBBIE: Actually, after several months of "gentle persistence" from my husband, I self published it through Lulu Press.  I was curious about the self-publishing process and didn't want to compromise my vision for the book by trying to conform it to a traditional publisher.  My intent was to simply get it out and make it available, and I was thrilled with the opportunity to put my daughter's wonderful photography skills to use for the book cover.  In general, the process was simple and painless, and I've received wonderful feedback from it.
CAROL: How did writing Walking in Son-Light affect your walk with Jesus?

DEBBIE: I tried to choose the messages that followed a similar theme.  Reading through and fine-tuning them made me realize the underlying thread running throughout:  it all points to life, my family, my issues, challenges and dreams.  Writing the book has only brought me closer to Him and strengthened my faith.

 CAROL: Do you have any projects you’re working on that you’d like to share with us?

DEBBIE: I'm looking forward to my very first book signing in July at a local bookstore (event information is posted on my blog).  I'll be signing copies of Walking in Son-Light and also hope to have my young adult Christian fiction book completed and available by then, as well.  It's called "Scattered Hearts," and is a story set in 1912, during the orphan train era, about a young women determined to live out her faith regardless of her circumstances.

 I'm also excited about my upcoming article in a future issue of Victoria Magazine.  I've written an essay that has been accepted for their "Chimes" section.

CAROL: Congratulations! What one thing would you like us to know about you or your writing that I haven’t asked?

DEBBIE: I want to encourage women to follow their dreams.  God plants dreams and goals (even ministries) within the hearts of each one of us, but many times a lack of confidence prevents the blessings!  This world is full of beautiful, talented, gifted women who sometimes hold back because they either don't believe in themselves or second guess themselves right out of opportunities.  We need to be the hands and feet of God if we're to carry out the dreams he created for each of us.

CAROL: Here’s a link to your blog.  How can people purchase your book?

DEBBIE: The book is available in the left sidebar of my blog, or you can go directly to the Lulu site by clicking here

$1 per every paperback sold will be donated to Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.

CAROL: Thank you so much for your time, Debbie. We wish you tremendous luck with Walking in Son-Light and all your other projects.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of writing you have given to many people in this world and thank you for Debbie Dillon and her heart of encouragement for others. Please bless her in her endeavors and use her example to inspire and encourage us for your glory. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Have you visited Debbie’s Writin’ 4 Him Café yet? Go here.  Enjoy.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Many people are familiar with praying scripture. By reading passages in the Bible and substituting names and circumstances, folks can pray God’s Word to Him in a way that deepens the personal connection and helps us recognize God’s character and majesty.
You may also be familiar with praying the names of God. By focusing on the names God is referred to in scripture, we can pray for that attribute it describes. For example, a person needing reassurance of provision might pray the name of “El-Shaddai, the God who is sufficient for the needs of His people.” A person in grief would pray to Jesus as the man of sorrows. And God, who refers to Himself as I AM in dozens of instances, provides many opportunities to approach Him in prayer based on His character. 
In a slightly different way, I have begun praying names of people in my life. Each of us has a name and although it was chosen for us by our earthly parents, we can still look to its meaning and find a way to pray meanings of those names. For example, my name is Carol. The name means “joyous song.” When I have days that are filled with struggles or worry or even boredom, I can pray that God will help me live my name; not only for my own happiness but also that I would be a joyous song to others and to God.

I have prayed for many of my family members and friends in this way. Once I know what their name means, praying that meaning becomes natural. Moreover, it becomes easy for me to remember how to pray for that person. I simply pray his name.

I am creating an expanding list of names and accompanying prayers that I would like to share with you. I have created a special blog page. To access it, simply click on the button at the top of this page entitled “PRAYING NAMES.” Meanwhile, please feel free to contact me with names of loved ones you would like to pray for. Simply send me a comment at the end of this post with one or two names you would like added. It would be my pleasure to add those names and accompanying prayers to this list.

I pray you will be blessed and will bless others in return through this process.

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for our lives and the lives of the people we love. We sometimes think we are clever in the names we choose for our children. But we acknowledge that the names we give to our children have meaning. Teach us how to pray for each other. Thank you for creating the communication of prayer. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Have you tried praying the meaning of your loved ones’ names? Would you like me to include a praying name for someone you know? Click the “comment” button and send me a name or two. Then stop back and check the Praying Names page. It’ll be there soon.

Friday, May 13, 2011


Last Friday I shared with you three spiritual truths I learned from my puppy dog, Mollie. If you missed that post, you can go here.

Today, I’d like you to meet Spot, the Wonder Cat.

Spot decided to adopt us 19 years ago when he hopped our fence and marched up to our then dog, Tasha and settled in. Spot was already a grown-up kitty by then, which makes him at least 20 years old. In cat years, that means he’s, let’s see: 13 + 8, carry the 2, minus 4, multiplied by …well, let’s just say he’s “really old.”

If you’re a dog person, maybe you don’t care much about cats. But Spot isn’t a regular cat. This is the guy who our daughter dressed up in doll clothes and stuck in her stroller. He then sat purring happily as she drove the stroller down the stairs, one bump at a time.

This is the cat who battled the electric kitty litter box, lying in wait, pouncing as it sat unexpectedly ready to do its clean-up thing, until we finally vanquished the entire electronic experiment as a bad idea.

This is the cat who chases Mollie around the backyard and wins. Even at his ripe old age.

This is the cat who curls up in dish pans so we can call him, “the cat in the bucket.”

And sits on our towels to make sure they don’t wrinkle.


Spot is such a part of the family that even Mollie the puppy—or maybe especially Mollie the puppy—will be heartbroken when he’s gone.

So what sort of spiritual truths could I possibly have learned from Spot, the Wonder Cat? Here are three.

  1. Spot’s cat eyes have irises that focus upward and downward. He is not distracted by what’s going on to either side of him.

I too should focus toward heaven. I should keep my eyes on God. And I should also watch my steps to make sure I’m following Jesus.

Matthew 4:19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said…

  1. Spot knows how to be still and listen. Unlike puppies who are always ready to play; my cat knows how to just sit. Puppy dog still has to master that skill. Kitty’s ears never stop turning in all directions. He’s listening and paying attention to what’s going on, but his body remains still and he waits.
Like Spot, I need to tune my ears to God. And then wait. I need to be still so I can hear when God speaks.

1 Samuel 3:10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

  1. Spot knows how to rest. I’m not talking about sleep. Dogs have that perfected. Rather, I’m talking about rest. Spot can sit on my lap so long that I can barely move my legs when I get up. And all the while he’s resting, he’s also purring. 
I need to remember that one of God’s commands is to take one day in seven as a Sabbath. So should I. And while I’m at it, I should be singing praises to God in gratitude.

Matthew 11:28 Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the examples of spiritual truths we find in the world around us. Help us see more of your truth in unexpected places. Thank you for the critters you created who bring us such joy. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?  Do you have a spiritual kitty? What lessons have you learned from him?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Having created a regularly-occurring “Writing Wednesday,” I have now required myself to write about writing every Wednesday. What was I thinking?

Actually, I was thinking it was a good idea.

Many of my family and friends are writers or wannabe writers and most of the rest of y’all love to read. Books are precious to us. They contain, adventure, mystery, suspense, humor, guidance, encouragement, examples of how to live and sometimes, how not to live.

There’s something magical about books and how they come to be. How they start inside the mind of a person, become words on the screen, words on the page, and pages bound in a book. And, let me assure you that having been blessed with the opportunity to write and publish four books myself, the process continues to be magical.

So for all of us—writers, wannabe’s, and lovers of books, welcome to Writing Wednesday.

In preparation for today’s post, I dug through my notes about writing. I found nearly 20 sets of notes from writing conferences I’ve attended over the years. With an average of six speakers at each conference, that’s a whole lot of fabulous speakers I’ve been privileged to hear over the years. I’d like to share some of them with you. Starting with Nancy Werlin.

Nancy Werlin is an award-winning young adult novelist. She spoke at the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference I attended in Modesto ‘way back in 2001.

Her tips on revision are still relevant. Here they are, followed by my WWJS thoughts. WWJS? That stands for “what would Jesus say?”

Once you have finished your first draft:

1.      Celebrate. You’ve created something out of nothing. Acknowledge that you’ve done something wonderful.

·         WWJS: In Genesis we read how God created the universe out of nothing. Then He acknowledged that it was “good.”

2.      Give your first draft to one or two people you respect. Have them look at it from a structural point of view. When you hear the same comment from two readers, listen. Their comments may not agree with your vision of the book, but give their thoughts due regard.

·         WWJS: Proverbs 12:15 The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

3.      Recognize that there will be things that are wrong. But they can be changed.

·         WWJS: God planned for Adam and Eve to stay in the Garden of Eden with Him forever. Yes, being omnipotent, He knew they would sin, but it was only after things had gone wrong that He had to make changes. Things can be changed.

4.      Revision can be terrifying. Ask for help.

·         WWJS: Life can be terrifying. Ask God for help.

5.      Trust the process. Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, begin the revision process.

·         WWJS: Jesus would remind us that the revision process in writing is similar to the way God purifies us. Leviticus 14:31 says: Through this process, the priest will purify the person before the LORD.

6.      Acknowledge your vulnerability. The first draft is precious to you. It came from your soul. It is your “baby” and it feels destructive to revise it. Acknowledge your vulnerability and then take a leap of faith to commit to the revision process. The work will be better.

·         WWJS: Jesus would understand what it feels like to create. John 16:21says: A woman giving birth to a child has pain…but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy.

7.      Every revision process is different. Don’t stress over having the “right process.” Just begin and learn what works for you.

·         WWJS: Jesus would remind us of Proverbs 19:2: Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; haste makes mistakes

8.      Throw yourself into the revision. Try wild ideas. Take the story into a new direction. If something doesn’t work out, you can revise it back to the way it was.

·         WWJS: Jesus would remind us of Ephesians 6:7: Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord.

9.      Trust your instinct; don’t trust your fear.

·         WWJS: Jesus would remind us of the first part of Zephaniah 3:16: Do not fear, O Zion.

10.  Sometimes you have to keep rewriting and rewriting again and again until you get it right.

·         WWJS: Jesus would remind us of the second part of Zephaniah 3:16: do not let your hands hang limp.

11.  The secret of good creating: 1% inspiration; 99% perspiration.

·         WWJS: Jesus would remind us that God created everything in 6 days. That’s the 1% inspiration. God hasn’t stopped taking care of the universe ever since the first day of creation. That’s 99% perspiration.

Whether you write or not, I hope you enjoy these thoughts—Nancy Werlin’s certainly—but even more what Jesus might say about the spiritual revision going on in you.  

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the revision you are doing in us. Please keep revising and revising us until you get us right. Amen.

WHAT ABOUT YOU? Do any of these revision tips give you special encouragement in your writing or in your life?