Monday, December 28, 2009

Post Christmas Minutiae

Swoosh! Christmas has come and gone for 2009. My family was all together. It was a jammed packed week of food and activities.


Went to the Magical forest to see the Christmas displays and twinkling lights. Rode the carousel.

Went to church at The Crossing. It was a wonderful service.

Opened splendid presents. My favorite was a sign that says READ in bright colors. Thank you, Karen.

Baked Jesus a birthday cake. Had a frosting smear fight.

Ate, ate and ate some more. Did dishes, did dishes and did dishes some more.

Watched football.

Took family photos.

Tidied up the house--again and again.

I am tired.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Babbling about Birthdays

Today is my birthday. So, I have been pondering birthday thoughts.

I have always loved having a Christmas time birthday. I never minded having birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper. I love Christmas, so my birthday was just more merry.

I think my favorite birthday present was a Chatty Cathy doll when I was 10. Can you figure out how old I am by that bit of information?

I have never enjoyed birthday cake much, but love to eat frosted gingerbread men instead.

Tonight I am spending my birthday with my favorite people in the world. My husband, kids and grandkids making gingerbread men. I have no idea when this will occur again.

Birthdays always make me reflect on my life. Here's a short breakdown of the most important facts.

Dysfunctional childhood, but as an introverted artistic child I made it magical in my mind. I still love fairy tales, Narnia, dolls, stuffed animals, and storybooks.

Rebellious teen years, but by the Grace of God, my life was transformed by Jesus.

A mom of two boys--the greatest joy of my life.

An office manager for a insurance agent (my husband) for 17 years.

Finally graduating from college with two degrees--Interpersonal Communication/Christian Studies.

Ministry--high school girls, women's Bible studies, couples groups, etc.

Women's Ministry Director at The Crossing for 4 1/2 years. Tiring, but rewarding.

Speaking & Writing Ministry. The honor and privilege of being a Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker.

My first book contract--Hallelujah!

Becoming a grandma to my Chickadee Peeps--Emily and Brianna and Little Boy Blue--Michael.

Writing, writing, writing, and more writing.

Today I sit in Starbucks writing, waiting for my children and grandkids to come by.

Life is good! I owe all of my sanity to my Savior Jesus Christ without Him my life would have turned out very different indeed.

Holiday Hugs,

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Marley's Chains

Marley's Chains

  But God’s word is not chained. (2 Timothy 2:9b)


Without a vocal greeting, the rattle of chains announces my son’s return from work. His metal links jangle from his wrists, his pants, and his eyebrow. They display the appropriate symbol of the emotional and spiritual chains that imprison him. My son wears his chains as a badge of honor to his rebellion. 


In my mind, I visualize the scene of Marley’s ghost in A Christmas Carol. Marley’s bondage to money revealed itself by huge clanking chains and moneyboxes. His remorse for his earthly deeds haunts him and Scrooge. I long for my son to feel remorse and to return as the sweet boy I once knew. I want my son back. Now!


As my son heads ups the stairs, the clanking fades. I shove the image of the ghostly Marley out of my thoughts and assert the positive promise, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).” I will continue to pray for my son. I will use Scripture to plead his case, because God’s Word cannot be chained, regardless of what shackles dangle from my son’s body and soul.              



Father, I believe that Your Word is not chained. Help me to remain patient when You appear to be slow in keeping Your promises. I know You are infinitely patient, not wanting anyone to perish or live in rebellion. This includes my beloved child, _______________. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


An excerpt from Divine Hope for Despairing Parents by Susanne Scheppmann, New Hope Publishers, 2009.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Would You Tell?---Hot Topic Tuesday

Would you tell if you knew your girlfriend's husband was cheating?

After the scandal of Tiger Woods (of which I am very tired) I have wondered if any of Elin's friends knew. Did they allow her to stay in the dark or did they tell? What would you do?

Many years ago, I needed to make this decision. Sadly not once, but twice, I was put in this position. The first time, it seemed everyone and their dog knew about my friend's husband's affair. However, no one said anything to her, including myself. When the truth finally came out, my girlfriend felt betrayed by everyone. Basically, she cut herself off from her friends and started a new life without us. It was a great loss for me. I still ache for the love and laughter of that friendship.

So when the situation happened with another girlfriend a couple of years later, I told my girlfriend. The truth hurt. Once again, a lost friendship. She was mortified and chose to distance herself from me and any others who knew the truth of the troubled marriage.

It's seems to be a no win situation. These two situations happened many, many years ago. I lost both friendships. Would I tell now? I don't know. What's your opinion?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Head Over Heels About Christmas

Christmas is my favorite time of year. I get head over heels about it. Mark and I have made 8 batches of carmel corn and 4 batches of fudge to take to Christmas parties and to give as gifts. On Thursday night he was scooping out the remaining carmel in the pan to eat and suddenly the funniest look crossed his face. He said, "Oh no!" He pulled it out of his mouth along with a gold filling and a dental crown--two teeth damaged. Honestly, I tried not to laugh, but . . .

Mark left a message at the dental office. They called him before 7:00 AM and said come on in. They cemented the pieces back in place with no charge and said, "Merry Christmas! Stay away from sticky foods!" Mark gave them a tub of the carmel corn.

Now that made me feel head over heals for my sweet dentist's office, because when I saw those crumbled teeth, I calculated about $1000.00 in dental bills.

Some Christmas's are better than others. So far, this one has been filled with joy and excitement. I will have my family with me which makes it wonderful. Tomorrow we are going to head to the mountains to play in the snow with my Michael, my 2-year old grandson. We will listen to Christmas music on the way and drink hot chocolate.

This is my top 10 favorite things about Christmas 2009.

#1 Jesus & the joyful new life He gives.

#2. My family

#3. Fun food--even the chewy carmel corn

#4 Christmas CD by Andre Bocelli

#5 Watching sappy Christmas movies

#6 Smelling the pine scent from the wreath

#7 Anticipating the faces of my grandkids on Christmas morning

#8 Turkey dinner

#9 Playing games

#10 Reading A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens for the 100th or so time.

Candy Cane Kisses,


Friday, December 11, 2009

The Writer's Porch--Friday

How many words a day do you write?

Yesterday, I babbled about Stephen King’s On Writing. His opinion is if you are serious about writing, you will write 2000 words a day. (That’s 10 pages). He writes, “I like to get ten pages a day, which amounts to 2,000 words. That’s 180,000 words over a three month span, a goodish length for a book—something in which the reader can get happily lost, if the tale is done well and stays fresh.” Sounds great, doesn’t it?

My problem with writing 2000 words a day is this—when do you answer email, promote books, do laundry, etc.? Of course, I am assuming that Stephen King has plenty of paid help to do the menial tasks each day. But for those of us who live our lives as struggling artists, then I think the advice of 2000 words a day is flawed.

Honestly, I would be thrilled if I could write 2000 words every other day! But the writing life, the business side, prohibits hours of dedication to the craft. MAYBE someday, but for now I try not to pressure myself into scribbling just to reach a certain word count.

I tend to try to set completion dates for projects. For example, if I need to write a chapter I will give myself a two-week deadline. I might not work on it every day, but I will have it done by my own personal deadline. This way I have the flexibility without the stress. This works for me. What works for you?

Keep the Heart-Print Faith,


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Babbling about Books--Thursday

On Writing

By Stephen King

I just finished On Writing by Stephen King. Warning! If you decide to read this book, the language is atrocious. However, I found it an interesting read. Stephen King is a different type of guy. Years and years ago, I read a couple of his books. The Stand was one I definitely recall. I think I quit after I began Cujo and it scared me too much to continue.

Anyway, I digress. On Writing is somewhat of a memoir on Mr. King's life and an instructional book on the craft of writing. It has some interesting tidbits for writers, especially if you write fiction. Overall, the memoir chapters intrigued me the most. I always wonder what makes authors tick. I can't say for sure why Stephen King always writes suspense/horror books, but he did have somewhat of an unusual childhood.

Anyway, a year or so ago Jerry Jenkins and Stephen King were interviewed together in Writer's Digest. Honestly, you couldn't pick two writers who are more different in belief and writing style. But the interview made it clear that they respected each other. So reading On Writing enlarged my knowledge of who Stephen King is as a person and a wordsmith. He doesn't mince words when it comes to his opinions on writing and on life in general.

If you want to read this to learn more about the craft of writing, I would pass on it. If the inner sanctums of famous writers interest you (and you can ignore the profanity), then it's a book that will make you question why your write. Is it for fame, fortune or just the love of writing? Stephen King writes because he loves to write--although it's made him famous and filthy rich, too.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Once in a Decade Christmas

It's officially December and the holidays are in full swing around the Scheppmann household. We've made carmel corn, shopped, wrapped presents and listened to the new Christmas CD by Andre Bocelli.

This will be a special Christmas at my home. I'll have all my kids and grandkids home. Jeremy, Steph, Emily and Brianna will be coming in on my birthday --December 22nd -- for a week. Then Erin, my daughter, will be coming for a quick visit on the 26th. Darryl, Wendy and Michael live down the street (I am so blessed), so of course they will be here, too.

I know it's not always easy coordinating everyone's plans, hopes and activities. But I am praying that this year will be a joyous, laughter-filled Christmas. I cannot even guess when the opporuntity to be together will happen again. So, I am going to make the most of every moment. Which means I need to make everything as streamlined as possible. I have researched easy recipes and plan to prepare well in advance. Can you say store-bought pies?

If anyone has any tips to help me plan and prepare let me know!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Procrastination--The Writers' Bane

The Writer's Porch--Friday
Procrastination is a writer's bane. For whatever reason, writers love to find reasons not to write. The laundry calls, the phone rings, the cluttery closets coax to be straightened. So what's a writer to do?
For myself I like to create an atmosphere in which I like to write. I like to listen to music--anything from Daughtry to Susan Boyle. I wear things that make me feel like a writer. For example, I have the cutest bracelet made of typewriter keys. It reads "Bookworm." Recently, I was in a little boutique and found two note cards with old typewriters printed on them. I bought the cards. I intend to frame them and place them on the wall in front of my computer.

Author Anne Lamott recommends placing a 1 inch by 1 inch picture frame on your desk. Then study it with the idea you will write just what picture will fit in that frame. It could be a sentence, a paragraph or page, but the 1x1 frame is the beginning of the story. I picked up on this idea and I have a tiny frame on my desk. I think, "I can write what I can imagine inside of this frame."

Reading The Writers' Digest, how-to-write books, and author autobiographies spur me to write. However, I must be extremely careful that I don't allow my reading to interfere with my writing time. So, I have found if I read these at night, I am more inspired in the morning to write my one inch idea.

Candles, incense, funky things spur me to write--think beatnik or hippie. Here's the truth about writers, we walk to the beat of a different drummer. Most of us have artists' hearts. We tend to be introverts by nature. Many of us would be classed melancholy verses sanguine personalities.

Here's what I know for sure, writing is hard work. Procrastination comes naturally to writers. Find what works the best to keep your behind in the chair and your fingers on the keys.

Keep the Heart-Print Faith,


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Dog Ate My Homework

Actually, my dog didn't eat my homework, but she did chew through my laptop power cord. I walked into the living room to discover a grisly, wiry severed computer cord. Fortunately for the dog it wasn't plugged in to the outlet. "All right," I think, "No big deal." I'll just hop on the Internet and order another one. Oops! It's Cyber Monday and is completely overloaded and I can't place an order.

So on Tuesday, I had to call. I get through to a guy who talks about a bazillion words per minute. He attempts to sell me a new computer, a television, an upgrade, etc. etc. "No, I just want an adapter cord, that's it," I repeat a bazillion times.

That major distraction is taken care of and the cord will be delivered in a few days. Until then I can use my computer, but in a very limited capacity. I do have an extra cord, but it is not movable. It's docked to my desk. Now this is not a monumental thing, but an annoyance.

Another poor me story is that I am having a great deal of trouble posting on my blog. It seems I can no longer write my post in Microsoft Word and cut & paste it to blogspot. It seems that Google has done something so it will not work. Sounds like a Microsoft/Google war to me and I am caught in the middle. All right, I can work around it now that I know what the problem is with my blog.

Which brings me to a You Tube clip my church played on Sunday. I do not know who the comedian is (he may be very rank) but this clip was hilarious. It made me laugh so hard as I love technology and I travel a lot on planes. Here's the link:

Truly all the technology is amazing and we just don't fully appreciate it, do we?

Keep the Heart-Print Faith,


Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Monday Minutiae

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around the Scheppmann house. This weekend was a wonderful time with family and lots of turkey. I am actually sick of turkey and that is amazing for me. My husband and I decided we couldn't stand one more bite and ordered chicken wings and pizza last night as we decorated the Christmas tree. I only broke one glass ornament which my dogs wanted to eat.

Here's what I have accomplished before the 1st day of December.

Tree up and trimmed

4 batches of carmel corn made

3/4 of my shopping done

1/8 of my presents wrapped. I really dislike this job and am so thankful for gift bags!

All my revisions for Embraced by the Father back to New Hope Publishers

1 wrenched back

Yup, my lower back hurts. Don't ask me how I did it. Mark and I were putting fresh sheets on the bed and I was standing there watching him do it. :) Then all of sudden I felt a tweak in my lower back. (I do not have a bad back at all, well, at least I didn't.) It stills feels a little tender and I am babying it today. Honestly, I wasn't even moving. Weird!

Tomorrow's hot topic is the Minnesota Vikings. Don't change that channel.

Keeping the Heart-Print Faith,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. Helps me and my heart is filled with joy! I burst out with songs of thanksgiving!

Here is what I am most thankful for today--my family.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Don't Diet on Thanksgiving!

Life is too short to diet on Thanksgiving. I used to try to watch what I ate on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, but not after what I experienced a few years ago. I was a dutiful Weight Watcher, and I attended my weekly meeting on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I listened as our leader Tammy instructed us on how to be “good eaters” on Thanksgiving Day. She explained the points of every typical turkey dinner component. How many points were in a tablespoon of gravy? The pumpkin pie was a no-no unless you scraped the filling off the crust—the crust was about a bazillion points.

I took my notes home and calculated allowed points. What would I eat on Thursday? What would I have to sacrifice? I honestly do not remember what I ate or didn’t eat, but here is what I do remember. The next Tuesday I went back to the group meeting and our leader Tammy was not there. Three weeks in a row—no Tammy. Finally, I asked the substitute instructor where our usual leader was. She grew quiet and then said, “She passed away the day after Thanksgiving.”

It seems that she had had a liver transplant several years before. Unexpectedly, after switching some prescription medication her liver completely quit working the day after Thanksgiving. The doctors could not save her in time to get a new transplant.

Now I know this doesn’t sound compassionate, but the first thing that went through my mind was, “I bet if she had it to do over again she would have eaten the pumpkin pie.”

So I don’t believe in dieting on days of celebration. Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy the blessings that the Lord has given to us—for me that includes mashed potatoes, gravy and pumpkin pie.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is the Internet a Blessing or Curse? - Hot Topic Tuesday

Blessing or Curse—The Internet: What has the Internet changed in your life?

The other day my husband Mark and I had a heated discussion over phonebooks. I believe that phonebooks are a thing of the past, but my husband is still a believer in the Yellow Pages. He thinks that people use the Yellow Pages as much as ever.

Right after we had this discussion I read the article The Decade of Destruction. It states several things that have been adversely affected by the Internet. Just to name a few: newspapers, music, movies, books, letters, and the postal service.

So I started to ponder all the changes the Internet has made in my life. I can’t imagine life without my online life. It’s pathetic, I know.

But here are the major changes to my life because of the Internet.

  • Letters to email
  • Newspapers to news on my homepage
  • Maps to Mapquest
  • Library to online research
  • A big old medical book to online health information
  • Going to the mall -- now it's
Well, I think you get the idea. The Internet has enhanced my life. However, I understand its potential for the destructiveness: pornography, social isolation, and the ruin of certain business. What’s your opinion? What effect has the Internet had on your life?

And just to settle the discussion that started this whole post, do you use the Yellow Pages?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Monday Minutiae

We are ten days or so away from Thanksgiving. Turkey with dressing and mashed potatoes is a favorite dinner for many of us. Can't wait!

But until then I thought I would consider some of the little things I am thankful for, just some little minutiae of life that make my days brighter, more fun and more fulfilling.

1. I-pod -- It's the best for my music and audible books.

2. Garmin -- My inexpensive GPS system that I purchased at Walmart has been such a blessing. I am so directionally challenged.

3. My three favorite books this year: The People of the Book, The Help, and God Meets Girl.

4. Pepsi product that is called H2O. I can't get it on the west coast, so I have to buy it when I am in Minnesota and bring it home with me.

5. My three dogs -- Tiki, Tulip and Taffy.

6. My BOOKWORM bracelet made out of old typewriter keys. It makes me smile.

7. The blogsite Stuff Christians Like. Hilarious! Can't wait for the book to come out.

8. The website I didn't think I would like listening to books, but I am now addicted.

9. The new Daughtry cd.

10. My cowboy boots.

All right, there is weird stuff in my list, I know. But what tiny tidbits of life are you thankful for?

Keep the Heart-Print Faith,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blogs: Life, Learning and Laughter

I listened to a couple of friends chat the other day; they were talking about blogs. Why do we read blogs? Why do we care? Should we spend our lives reading about other people's lives? Or should we live our own life to the fullest instead? Good questions! Since I write a blog and am a follower of several blogs, I definitely have an opinion on the issue. I personally prefer blogs that make me think or make me laugh. The blogs I read MUST bring value to my life in order for me to follow one on a daily basis. Right now my favorite blog is . It's sort of a tongue-in-cheek blog on Christians and our quirkiness. Remember, God said we are a peculiar people!

1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (KJV)

So with these thoughts in mind I am going to change my blog posts up a bit. I am going to make each day a selective topic so that YOU can decide if you want to read or not depending on the topics.

Here’s the schedule:

Monday Minutiae: Facts on me, life in general and current events that are truly not important, but may be entertaining.

Hot Topic Tuesday: Topics that should push an emotional button in your mind—one way or another.

Wednesday: Heart-Print Faith—How does our faith apply to our hot topics?

Thursday: Babbling about Books—a book review, possibly concerning our Hot Topic.

Friday: The Writer’s Porch—Topics of interest for writers.

All right, so let’s agree to this. Unless I have something to say that is newsworthy, a debatable topic, or something that is entertaining, I will resist in posting. However, if you want to be a part of a few topics that will spark debate or just need some mindless entertaining prattle, then stay tuned.

Keep the Heart-Print Faith,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Minnesota Nice

Most of you know that I have been in Minnesota for the past couple of weeks visiting my kids and grandkids. It's fun stuff up here--even the cold weather.

But here is the thing about Minnesota--the people here are nice--extremely nice. It must be something in the water, because I hardly ever run into someone cranky. Everyone goes out of their way to be helpful and friendly. The phrase "Minnesota Nice" is commonly used to describe the residents.

For example, I was in the grocery store and received the typical question, "Did you find everything all right?" I mentioned I had trouble finding one item. No kidding, the employees almost tore the store apart for twenty minutes--but they did find the elusive item.

Then yesterday I had a mental headslap moment. I backed my car into the garage door. It was almost open, but not quite. Duh me. So the local garage door repairman was called. He was so nice, I felt like I was in a sitcom from the 1950's. And to top it off the total charge was only $79 to realign, fix the bent brackets, etc.

I am going to work on becoming Minnesota nice. Cold hands and feet, but a warm heart.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Writer's Porch--NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is here. Yup, it's National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to write a 50,000 word or more novel during the month of November. Check out the site!

There is not a lot that I find is unique out there in the writing world, but this thrilled me. Maybe because I have wanted to write fiction for years, but just could not seem to get motivated to do it with all the other stuff that kept pouring onto my desk each year.

However, NaNoWriMo has spurred me on to begin my book. It is an exciting thing to say, "I am writing a novel." Now, I may not get all the 50,000 words completed. I most likely will not win the contest. But the important point for me as a writer is to say, "I am writing!" Because writers write. Procrastination is a writer's bane. If you long to write, but then stare at the computer screen, do laundry, walk the dog, and make your grocery list, then you will be tickled by this video compiled by author Angela Hunt. It's in honor of NaNoWriMo and it's writers "finding more important things to do." Things Novelists Do While Their Novels Remain . . .Unwritten. You can view it on YouTube or on Angela Hunt's blog.

Now I am off to work on my novel. I only have 1500 words written--need to write about 48,000 more. YIKES!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Flu, The Fever and The Blahs

One of the symptoms of H1N1 is the blahs. No one actually lists the blahs as a symptom, but it is and it lasts for days. Almost two weeks ago, I had fever, a headache, a cough and fatigue. I slept for days, it seemed. After about a week I slowly began to feel better except for the cough and the blahs.

Today I finally decided I needed to get out for a long walk and clear the cobwebs from my brain. So I walked for an hour with my three dogs and had a good time. It felt great. However, I sat down to write--BLAH. I would rather play Solitaire or better yet peruse Amazon for great books and Christmas ideas.

However, I MUST write. Here's a list of the things piled on my desk.

#1. Blog posts

#2. Devotions for Proverbs 31 Ministries

#3. It is NaNoWriMo. What in the world is that? Check tomorrow on the Writer's Porch.

#4. I have been offered a new contract for another Bible study, so I need to get started on that project.

#5. Magazine articles that I should have written months ago.

#6. Need to work on new messages as I have a busy spring speaking schedule.

#7. Prepare a conference/retreat with my friend Glynnis.

All of this seems overwhelming to me. The Blahs in my head say, "It's too much. You just can't do it, so why bother at all?"

That's a good question, Ms. Blahs. But it is my purpose and calling. So I will finish each of the tasks--maybe not today, maybe not even in 2009, but the flu, the fever and the blahs will not steal me away from what I am called to do.

So on that note, one checked off my list. The blog for today is posted.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Returning to Raising Faithful Children

Hey! A couple weeks ago I drove from Las Vegas to Minneapolis by myself. Well, I did have my three dogs. I know, am I nuts or what? Here's the thing--I had a great time. I listened to teaching tapes, music and watched the peak leaf change all the way through Utah, Colorado, and Nebraska. Now I am in Minnesota and it feels, looks and probably is winter. I think we are going to have snow later in the week.

So as I drove I pondered a lot of things. I again wondered why children leave the faith. What as parents are we missing? Do we think our church will provide the cornerstone of faith? Do we trust that since our children go to "Christian" school they will be protected? Do we think because we home schooled our children, they will be kept from doubt?

I look back to when I became a Christian at the age of 15. I was so on fire for Jesus. I truly loved Him from the depths of my soul--with all my heart, mind and strength. But in my mid-twenties I walked away from the faith. Why?

Because I could not understand the pain of suffering of life. If God was good how could He allow all this junk in my life. I remember going to my pastor's wife for help. (She will remain unnamed.) What did she do? She criticized me for my lack of faith, my sinful nature, blah, blah, blah. Needless to say I did not return to her for counseling. I turned to my friends who seemed to understand my confusion. Sadly because they didn't walk strong in their own faith, they inadvertently led me further away from God.

So for seven years I walked in a desert of faith. I knew I believed, but yet I didn't behave as I did. Finally after years of frustated living, Jesus drew me back to Him. It wasn't a big church event. It wasn't a friend who "witnessed" to me about my sins. Jesus spoke to my spirit in a Volkswagon Jetta in the parking lot of Knott's Berry Farm. It wasn't mystical. It was supernatural. It was just Jesus reconnecting with His lost lamb.

I do believe wholeheartedly that my mother's prayers were being answered. Her prayers never wavered. Her love never failed. She persevered when the future looked bleak for her eldest child's faith walk.

Never underestimate the power of a parent's prayer. Remember what James 5:16 states, "The prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." (NLT)


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall Fun

Hi, this is daughter-in-law Steph again, showing you what grandma Susanne has been up to the past couple weeks here in Minnesota! We have all been very sick this past week (including grandma), but luckily last weekend before the sickness came, we had time to go to the pumpkin patch. Here is grandma and her chickadee peeps on the hayride!

Picking out our pumpkin. . .
and now decorating.
Speaking of "chickadee peeps", guess what costumes I found online this year? In honor of grandma being here for Halloween for the first time, the girls are going as Peeps!

We love you, grandma!


your chickadee Peeps -- Emily and Bri

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch

The Art of the Article -- Part 5

In this final post on "The Art of the Article" we are going to chat about what you do once you’ve sent in your query to a magazine publisher—you start to write your next article or devotion.

Do not wait to hear from the editor. It could take anywhere from 4 weeks to 6 months before you have a response. In fact, once I heard from an editor three years after sending a query. They wanted to publish it after all that time—amazing!

Somewhere between 60 to 90 days it is permissible to send an email just to see if they have received your query. Do not expect them to remember it off the top of their heads, but you can jog their memory with a brief description.

If you have not heard anything from the publication after six months and you would like to query another magazine with the same article then you must send a formal withdrawal to the magazine withdrawing your article from consideration. Keep a copy of this withdrawal for your own personal records.

Perhaps you will receive an offer to be published in the magazine. Yippee! Most publications will send you a contract describing the “rights” they are offering. The rights are usually something like this:

All Rights—Your relinquish all rights to your manuscript. The publication can publish the article as many times as they would like and in any magazine.

First Rights—They have the rights to print the article the first time and then the rights return back to you after a certain amount of time. You can then republish the manuscript in another magazine or chapter of a book, etc.

Reprint Rights/2nd Rights—The publication is acquiring the rights of your manuscript to publish a piece that has previously been published.

Well, are you thoroughly confused? Welcome to the world of writing! Please let me know when you have submitted your query. I would like to pray for your success in the Art of Article Writing.

Pens & Pencils Hugs,

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Help--Caramel Cake

This post is to my foodie friends. A few weeks ago, I blogged about one of my all-time favorite books--The Help. Throughout the book it referenced a caramel cake that Minnie made, a southern prize-winning cake. (Except that Minnie put the "Terrible Awful" in it.) Now does that make you want to read the book or what?

Anyway, I was intrigued by the cake. I had never heard of caramel cake prior to reading The Help. So I did what any foodie does--I Googled the recipe. I made it for our last book club. It was delicious. A bit labor intensive, but if you like caramel you'll like this cake. The frosting is more like homemade carmel candy than a regular buttercream frosting. Here's the recipe. Happy Baking!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch

The Art of the Article—Part 4

In the Writer's Porch last Friday, I blogged about how to query an editor for the possible publication of an article. Below is a copy of a query letter that I sent out several years ago to two different magazines in two different years. I sold it both times. The first time I sold First Rights and then I sold Reprint or 2nd Rights.

Susanne Scheppmann
My Address
My Email
My Phone #

Magazine Name
Attn: Name of Editor
City, State

Dear Ms. ?????,

Ministry may embezzle laughter from life. Lost laughter affects not only those in ministry, but also their families. Those of us in ministry need to evaluate and regain the joy promised to us. For your consideration, please find enclosed “Has Ministry Embezzled the Laugh from Your Life?” an article concerning one of the hazards of ministry.

Currently, I serve as Women’s Ministries Director at The Crossing, A Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. My education includes a BA in Interpersonal Communication and a BA in Christian Studies.

I am published in The Young Believers Case Files by Tyndale Publishers, 2003; God’s Way for Mothers by WhiteStone Publishing, 2003; Encounters With God by Family Christian Bookstores, 2004. My most current bylines include articles published in: Pray!, Proverbs 31 Woman, Today’s Christian Woman, and Breakthrough Intercessor.

Thank you for the ministry of (magazine name) and the opportunity to submit an article for possible publication. I have enclosed an SASE for your convenience. (Email is now the more likely source of correspondence.)


Susanne Scheppmann

Your assignment--write your query letter for your article. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch

The Art of the Article—Part 3

Did you write your 500-word article as assigned last week? I hope you did, because today we are going to learn how to query a magazine editor.

Now, I am sure many of you are asking, “Query? What is a query?” A query is a letter written to an editor to express your desire to write an article and to pique her interest in your idea. The query letter must be perfectly written with a great hook, so that the editor decides she needs to see your manuscript. If the editor requests your manuscript, it does not mean that she is going to publish it. It only means that you’ve hooked her attention enough that she wants to see more of your topic and writing skills.

All right, so you have a great idea on an article that you would like to submit to a magazine or an e-zine. Where do you go from here? Great question! There are two approaches for article writing and submission.

1. Query the magazine editor with your idea and wait for a response before writing it.
2. Write the article and then query the editor.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of each of these tactics. Make sure to study the magazine’s writer guidelines so that you know how they prefer to be queried.

Query 1. The reason to query the magazine first is that you don’t waste your time on an article that nobody wants. If you query and there is possible interest, then the editor might be able to give you advice and clarity on what he or she would like to see in the article.

Query 2, or option number two. Writing the article first benefits you in knowing that you can actually write the article. Plus, as you write, you may discover a completely different angle to take. Thus, when you query an editor your piece may hold more appeal than when you began with only an idea.

For myself, I prefer the latter option. I am not sure why, but I think if I have a concept of an article, I like to see it on my screen. I believe I write better queries. But with that said, I have wasted a lot of time on articles that never saw the light of day.

In addition, this approach may hinder an editor that may want to assign me a topic as a writer. The editor may not think I have the ability to write on assignment. Also, if I promoted myself more as a freelance article writer, I would probably have switched to the query first and then writing the article. But for now, I write and then submit. Do whatever makes the most sense to you and your writing style.

I currently need to write about ten articles on a variety of topics coming from my various books to help promote the books. Even as I write this I think, “Why don’t I just send out the queries to see if I get a nibble?” But for some quirky reason, I want to write the article first. So, I put pressure on myself to write. Is this good or bad? I really don’t know, it’s just my personal preference.

Two Very Important Rules:

Make sure before you query a magazine editor that your article is a good fit for their magazine. Don’t send an article about raising godly children to a publication that publishes articles on fashion!

Only query one editor at a time for each magazine article. It is considered taboo to query more than one at a time because these magazines are competing for the same audience. Once you have received a rejection on the article, it is all right for you to send a query to another magazine.

Let the editor know what rights you are offering for the article: All Rights, First Rights, Reprint Rights. (We’ll take a look at that in two weeks.)

Keep the Heart-Print Faith—Fun, Fearless and Fulfilled,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Quit Reading?

Should we quit reading?

This post is a guest post by Margaret Traudt. (She's my daughter-in-love's mom and one of my best friends.) She wrote this on her personal blog and she allowed me to "steal" it for mine. (She also reads most of my work as a personal editor. Her editing information is below.)

"Last post I mentioned the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. She talks about how to bring out your creative side, and one of her "requirements" is to write everyday. (She says to write 3 pages, but I'm pleased if I finish 1 page each day.) One thing this writing accomplishes is to "unblock" your creativity. In other words, you're supposed to write about all the things, people, circumstances that are keeping you from being creative, so that once you've written about them, you've moved them out of your way and voila! you're free to be creative.

But, then she goes a little far and says that one thing that blocks creativity is too much reading! So, she recommends a season of reading deprivation so your mind can think about the things you want to create instead of focusing on what other people have created. Actually, I have to admit that she makes a good point. I find that I can really become wrapped up in a good book, or in a series of good books. Like lately! She doesn't say this deprivation has to be long term but until you've spent some time "creating" and you're no longer blocked.

I was giving some serious thought yesterday to trying this, but then because of a new tutoring student starting today I had to read Lord of the Flies last night. (It's amazing I'd never read it before because it seems to be required reading for many high school students. I think that trend may have started in the late 60's after I was out of high school.) But, I was able to finish it in less than 24 hrs. So, now, I'm back to considering the deprivation thing. I'm not going to give up my day-to-day readings that I'm already committed to, but I may have a season (a short season) with no "pleasure" reading. (Not that my day-to-day reading isn't pleasurable--maybe frivolous would be a better adjective--for the reading I'm giving up, that is.)

Hmmm--what will I do with that extra time? Is there something creative I should be working on? We'll see! I do have a sewing project started, or some knitting, or maybe I could do some creative cooking, or work in the yard, or. . . . .If you have an opinion about the reading deprivation, let me hear it. Have a great day!"

(Copyright Margaret Traudt, 2009. )

Editing & Proof Reading

Margaret Traudt


(402) 782 8973

What are your thoughts?


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Groovy Grandmas

I wish I could have had a groovy grandma. Unfortunately, both of my grandmothers were quite crotchety. One I couldn't even call "Grandma". She only allowed me to call her by her first name--Jean. She pretended to be my aunt to everyone, I guess because she didn't want to be a grandma. (Obviously she was biologically, but not emotionally.)

So years and years ago, way before I became a grandma, I decided to be a groovy grandma when I had the privilege to be one.

When my boys were little I prayed for their future wives and families. One of my requests was, "Lord, let me love their families. Let them have fun families."

Sure enough, the Lord granted that request--BIG TIME! I adore both of my daughters-in-loves' mothers. Margaret lives in Nebraska. Barb lives in Virginia. They are long distance best friends. What a blessing to me, my children and grandchildren.

Together we are three groovy grandmas who want our grandchildren to live out lives of faith. We desire for the Christian legacies of families to continue on for generation after generation.

Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged. Proverbs 17:6a (NLT)

Share your Heart-Print Faith,


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Making God Real at Home

This is a devotion written by Micca Campbell which I thought was appropriate for this blog series. Thanks, Micca, for allowing me to use this today!

Making God Real at Home

Deuteronomy 6:7 “You shall talk about them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.”

Discovering God and His ways are not meant to be a duty, but that’s what it can feel like when it comes to having family devotions. Most people think teaching their children about God means building an alter in the middle of their living room floor and meeting there daily to rehearse scripture and prayer. That’s not God’s intentions at all. Our key verse instructs us to “talk about [God] when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when are lying down and when you rise up.” God’s desire is for us to teach our children about Him in normal everyday settings as we simply live life.

My three children range in age, so naturally everybody wanted to do something different when it came to devotions. Can you imagine? That would be more like having a three-ring circus than learning about God. On the other hand, God is a fun and creative God. With that in mind, I was sure I could come up with a way to teach my children about Him without chaos or slumber.

I, indeed, found a fun way for our family to learn about God—it’s not to replace reading the Word but in addition to. We spend devotional time by watching movies together that have great moral lessons. Usually, I purchase these movies at a Christian book store or online. After the movie, we discuss how the characters in the show applied God’s moral law to their situations. I discovered this was a great way of teaching my children the right thing to do whenever they found themselves in a similar situation at school, church or in the neighborhood. Knowing our family discussions prepared my children for whatever may come their way brought peace to my heart and mind.

Another way our family continues to learn about God is by having spiritual birthdays. Celebrating spiritual birthdays is also a great way to establish your children’s faith. It makes it their own.

After dinner, we have cake and talk about the past year and how the child has grown spiritually. Sometimes I purchase a small gift such as a What Would Jesus Do bracelet. This celebration helps God become personal and their faith become stronger. If your child has accepted Jesus as their personal Savior, then every year on that date you can have a spiritual birthday for them, too!

When my eldest son turned thirteen, I combined his physical day of birth with his spiritual birthday and invited the entire family—grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to the party. We had a backyard bar-b-que.

After the meal, all the guests sat in a circle. Each person told a story about Mitch before he opened that person’s gift. The story could be sentimental, funny, or one of faith. After each person presented their gifts, Pat and I read a letter to Mitch that we had written. We noted that there were many reasons that made us proud to be his parents, but the main reason was simply because he was ours. If Mitch had never hit a homerun, mastered the drums, or won the state tournament in bible drill, we would still be proud just because he was our gift from God.

It’s so important for us to teach our children about God and affirm their faith, that He commands us to do so. The truth is our children will grow to see God and the world around them by what we teach them and by what we don’t. I’d rather be certain that what they are learning is truth.

Dear Lord, I want to be intentional about teaching my children about you. Give me creative ideas that will draw the heart of my child to want to know you more. As we learn together, seal your truths into our hearts and minds so that our lives will influence others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:
According to your children’s ages and interests, develop fun activities you can do together as a family while learning about God and His ways.

How can teaching your children about God build a lasting legacy?
What other ways can you help your child make faith their own?
How can your family influence others as you learn about God?

Power Verses:
Proverbs 1:8, “Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching” (NIV)

Ephesians 6:1, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (NIV).

Proverbs 22:15, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (NIV). Copyright Micca Campbell 2007

Related Resources:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch

The Art of the Article—Part 2

Last week we considered what makes a good article. Your assignment was to study current magazines and think through a topic that you might write about from a fresh new angle.

The steps of writing an article are similar to the skeleton of a devotion. (See Shortbread—How to Write a Great Devotion). Let’s review these sections.

  • Catchy title. Think of a title that will grab the editor’s attention. Tell your friends about the topic of the article, and then give them some “test” titles. Find out which title appeals to them. This being said, it is more than likely the editor will change the title of your article, but right now you are trying to attract the editor’s attention.

  • A great first sentence that hooks the reader. The same rule applies to a great first sentence as it does to a catchy title. You want the reader to keep reading. You want to pull them into the article—from beginning to end.

  • The body of the article should be between 500-1200 words. The body of the article is the point of the article. Write with strong verbs. Show, don’t tell. Allow the reader to see, smell, feel, taste and touch through your words. A good practice exercise is to describe a new loaf of bread coming out of the oven. Show the reader the bread, don’t tell the reader about it.

  • The conclusion. Tie your article together. Many times a writer will circle back to the opening paragraph and join the beginning, the body and the end together. Write a strong conclusion so the reader knows what the take away value is. Readers want to feel satisfied with a closure. Don’t leave your audience asking, “So what?”

  • Perhaps a sidebar. Sidebars have come into vogue. They are short bits of information that are an addition to your article. They are written separately, but attached to the manuscript. They help break up the page and make the written page more appealing to our short attention spans. Again, look through magazines to get ideas on different types of sidebars. I highly recommend using them, as editors are looking for such icing on articles. (Also, sidebars are now being used frequently in Bible studies and some books.) Learn the art of sidebars to put yourself one step above every other article sitting on the editor’s desk for review.

OK, I want you to go ahead and write an article. See if you can garner a great idea and then a write a short article of approximately 500 words. Try to include a sidebar. Next week we will discuss how to get the article into an editor's hands.

Keep the Heart-Print Faith--be fearless in your writing!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

When Your Child Hurts

When Your Child is Hurting: Helping Your Kids Survive the Ups and Downs of Life By Glynnis Whitwer
Harvest House--2009

What makes me cry? When my children are hurting, that makes me weep. It is such a helpless feeling. When my children were in elementary school I distinctly remember crying over certain incidents that broke my children’s tiny hearts—teasing, not making the team, bullying, etc. I felt enraged and helpless. I would have done anything to take their pain myself, but of course, that’s not how life is when you live in a broken world.

However, my dear friend, Glynnis Whitwer wrote a book to aid parents when their children hurt. It just released in August. Oh, I wish this book had been around when my children were young. I would have kept it right on my nightstand. (I usually cried for my children at night with my head tucked deep into the pillow.)

Glynnis wrote from the experience of being a mom with five children, but also from her own experiences as a hurting child. She’s been there on both sides! Here’s an overview of a few of the chapters.

*Overcoming Insecurity
*Caring for Your Child with a Physical Difference
*The Pain of Loneliness
*Anger: When is it Wrong

This week I have been posting about raising a child strong in faith. When Your Child is Hurting is an excellent tool to help you raise a Christ follower, especially if you have a child who is in emotional pain. You can find it on the Proverbs 31 Ministries website or . Now don’t cry! Help is on the way for you and your child.

Until tomorrow on The Writer's Porch,

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Serving in Faith with Your Younger Kids

Serve with your kids! That was one of the comments that was posted yesterday on my blog. I couldn't agree more. As our children see us serving, being the hands and feet of Jesus to others, they will model this behavior.

First let's talk about what we can do with younger children. When my kids were young there were several things we did to allow them to see our faith at work. Here's a short list of ideas.

  • Make a complete dinner and deliver it to a family who has someone chronically ill. Allow the children to help you select, prepare and deliver the food.
  • Sponsor a child through Compassion International that is similar in age to your own child. Keep the child's picture on the fridge. Pray for the child at dinner each evening. Then, if you ever have the chance, go visit the child.
  • Save money each month for Christmas presents for a needy family. Allow your children to help select the gifts, wrap them, and deliver them.

  • Pray for missionaries who you know. One of my friends made this beautiful prayer blanket for kids. You place it on the floor, find the place that you want to pray for, then place your hands on the country and pray together for the country, people & missionaries.

Isn't it great? My friend bought the fabric at JoAnn's and then made the child-sized blanket. Love it!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Is Youth Ministry Failing our Kids?

Youth ministry as we know it today is failing our children. Last week I went to Dallas to speak at the D6 Conference and discovered startling statistics on how many of our children leave the faith once they leave home. What is D6? It is an orginazation of several national ministries such as Focus on the Family, Randall House Publishing, Proverbs 31 Ministries, and many more that that have banded together to help parents raise their children in the faith. Its mission statement is, "The vision of the D6 Conference is to champion a movement of parents connecting with their kids spiritually to transfer their faith and life values." They are already planning for D6 2010.

The goal of D6 is to equip parents to take an active part in the children's faith process. Statistically, it is proven that if the parent is actively involved in faith discussion, not just taking the child to church, then it is less likely the child will walk away from the faith as an adult.

This subject is close to my heart as I have one child who is not walking with the Lord. Perhaps I failed her as I didn't discuss the issues of her heart. I honestly left that to the youth pastor. I wasn't equipped to delve into theological issues that fed her doubt. (And I was serving in ministry!)

D6 was an eye-opener! It has me fired up about teaching my grandchildren the faith and making it fun, interesting, and eternal. So for the next few blog posts I am going to write about how to do this. Some of the posts will be serious and thought-provoking, others will be funny, and some will be practical. I want your help! Write in and leave some comments about how to keep our children on the narrow path.

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it." Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT)

Keep the Heart-Print Faith,

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch

The Art of the Article—Part 1

Today we are going to start a new series—The Art of Articles. Two weeks ago I posted about writing from your passion. I can’t emphasize this enough. Your articles will sparkle when you care about your topic.

However, there are certain topics that will attract readers. Take a trip to your local supermarket and peruse the magazines. What topics seem to keep popping up? Here are the ones I believe you will spot:



Animal stories

Weight loss



How-to articles


Now consider your personal passion in writing. Could you link it with one of the above popular topics? Try it! You might surprise yourself at the creativity that will spring to your mind and fingers. Editors quote, “There is nothing new under the sun.” This is a true statement, so make sure you have a fresh angle on which to write your common topic. Writing articles is an art—intrigue the reader with a new perspective, new information, or a new how-to. Give the reader something to ponder once they put the magazine down on the coffee table.

In the past, magazine articles might contain three to five main points. This has changed during the past ten years. Because our culture has a short attention span, it’s now best to find one strong point and weave it throughout entire article. The length of an entire article should be between 500-1500 words. Again, in the past, the length of articles was much longer, but editors are now looking for shorter manuscripts. Don’t bore the reader with unnecessary words; keep your writing fresh, crisp and readable.

Today’s assignment: Read current issues of several magazines. Consider if there is a topic that you would like to write about with your own passion and perspective. Next week we’ll discuss the skeleton of a great article.

Keep the Heart-Print Faith,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Minnesota Fun

Hi, my name is Steph and today I am writing on Susanne's behalf, as she is busy at the D6 Conference in Dallas this week (with no internet!) I am Susanne's assistant, but more importantly, her "daughter-in-love!" Today I thought I would give you a glimpse of grandma Susanne.

Susanne lives in Las Vegas, but lucky for us she visits often (we live in Minnesota.) Here she is reading a book to her grandchildren, with her 3 dogs at her side. It can't get much better than that for grandma!

Susanne has two boys -- one of them is a Cowboys fan and the other a Raiders fan. As you can see, the guys have passed that down to their kids. Here is my daughter Bri and her cousin Michael. They are only 2 months apart and the cutest things you've ever seen together. Ok, maybe I'm a little biased. I know grandma is, too!

What would a trip to Minnesota be without a trip to "The Great Minnesota Get-Together" -- the State Fair. This might've been the highlight of our time together; we had a blast. Here was Susanne's favorite food at the fair -- cheese curds!

Here is grandma with our other daughter, Emily Susanne.
Thanks for joining me today! Susanne will be back next week on The Writer's Porch!