Sunday, August 30, 2009

Heart-Print Faith--Make it Fun

Hey, thanks for stopping by today's blog--Heart-Print Faith. I believe our faith should contain some fun elements to it, don't you? Life is hard. Faith is hard. But life can be fun and so should our faith.

In my book Birds in My Mustard Tree, each day I give an excercise to do something fun in regards to the day's lesson. Here's an example taken from the lesson titled, "Cease Striving," based on Psalms 46:10, "Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (NASB).

FAITH FUN: Cease striving. Tear up your to-do list for today and wait for God to direct your activities. (page 116)

Do you dare to tear up your to-do list? Trust me, it's fun!

Now I want you to think of some fun faith activities. Post them in the comments section and I will draw a winner to receive a free copy of Birds in My Mustard Tree.

Have faith. Have Fun!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Winners! Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents

Thanks to everyone for commenting on my Babbling about Books--Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents.

And the winners are:

Kelly Evelth



Please email me your names and addresses. ( And I will get the books in the mail! Stay tuned for more giveaways in the upcoming weeks.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Shortbread: How to Write Great Devotionals, Part 5

Friday --The Writers' Porch

Shortbread: How to Write Great Devotionals, Part 5—The Prayer

We’re winding down our study of Shortbread—How to Write Great Devotionals. This blog is going to be on the prayer. Almost without exception, a devotion will have a prayer as its closing.

The prayer is usually written in first person. It is written so that the reader can actually use it as prayer to God. Most prayers begin with “Father” or “Lord Jesus." (Check with the publisher or review prior published devotions to see the preference.) The prayer should address the topic of the devotion and the Scripture. However, the prayer should only be three to four sentences—write tight. Then close the prayer with something similar to “In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” (This also varies with the publisher. Again, check for their preference.)

One more tip in writing your prayer is what to do with the pronouns of the God (He, Him, He, You, etc.) With Proverbs 31 Ministries, the pronouns are always capitalized. However, this is not the case throughout the industry. Over the past few years, more and more publishers do not capitalize the pronouns for God. I personally prefer to capitalize my references to the Lord. I feel that it shows respect for our sovereign God, but that is only my opinion. Again, refer to the publication for direction.

Below is an example of a closing prayer.

Dear Lord, grant me the courage to step out and give a helping hand to someone else. Help me to remember that small kindnesses change lives as much as heroic deeds. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. (Birds in My Mustard Tree--Encouragement for Today)

Next week we will close up this series with the final touches of writing devotionals.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents

It's a giveaway today!

Today I am going to babble about Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents. I thought as school begins it might be an appropriate book for parents of teens to read. I wrote this book as source of comfort and hope for parents of children who might be going through a reckless or rebellious stage--which almost every child does.

It contains real life and anecdotal stories throughout the book to give hope to the praying parent and put into words the desperate whispers of the soul. I was once a prodigal child myself who came back to the Lord, and I survived three teenagers of my own. I wrote this book from all of this experience. The devotions in Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents will enable you to establish a new type of spiritual authority in the life of the wandering child through the power of prayer. It will help you to personalize Scripture for your own child and your own quaking heart. This book includes 180 Scriptures to pray your child or grandchild.

Here's the giveaway opportunity. Everyone who posts a comment on today's blog will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents. I will be giving away three books. Good luck!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Gift of Joanne

A few years ago, God gave me the perfect gift. Her name was Joanne and she was techy. I met Joanne at the She Speaks Conference and she volunteered to help me with computer stuff, etc. Joanne helped me with my website, this blog, my computer glitches, programming my phone and most importantly, my walk with Jesus.
Her faith in God helped me keep the right perspective. She talked me through my first book, Perplexing Proverbs, when I had writer's block. Joanne listened to me moan and groan over edits, book covers and etcetera with each of the following books. She rejoiced with me when I became an absurdly giddy grandma with Emily Susanne, Brianna Meg, and Michael Eugene. She understood that it was more important to be the sappiest grandma than a bestselling author. Joanne created my website and my blog for no charge other than my friendship. She did this for several other Christian speakers. She said, “It is my ministry.”

A little over two years ago, Joanne developed lung cancer. (She had never smoked a day in her life.) She battled bravely. She fought to keep her business and her ministry going. My last conversation with sweet Joanne was about two weeks ago. She said, “I am so concerned for my clients. I need to help them get set up with someone new. I don’t want to let them down.” That was the heart of Joanne Sampl.

On August 20th, Joanne stepped onto the dance floor of heaven. She's dancing with the love of her life, the Lord Jesus.

Joanne Sampl 11.28.61 - 08.20.09

I will miss my spunky and feisty, sweet and smart, godly and precious, Joanne.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised." Job 1:21b (NIV)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday -- The Writers' Porch--Don't Preach

Shortbread: How to Write Great Devotionals, Part 5—Don’t Preach

The point of writing devotionals is to inspire the reader. I once heard someone say, “Keep the devotion in the devotional." When writing a devo the most effective way to turn off the reader is to preach at them. In today’s culture, people do not want to be “thumped by the Bible.” They want to read something that will encourage them to seek a closer relationship with God.

When the writer wants to make a life changing point, the best way to phrase it is by using the personal pronoun of “I”. Use yourself as the example.

Never, never use phrases such as:

“You should do _________.” Or “God desires that you ______.”

It is best to write:

“I should do ______.” Or “God wants me to ________.’’

It is also permissible to use “we”.

“We should do _______” or "God desires for us to ______."

Does that make sense? Include yourself in the life application, so it doesn’t appear you are pointing the finger at the reader.

Another caution I would like to add is the use of the words always or never, unless you are taking it as a direct quote from Scripture. Remember the rule when arguing with some that you should not use the accusatory words of “you always" or “you never,” the same rationale applies in writing. It’s best to avoid words that imply an absolute or rigid thought. They come across as preachy.

One final note on the "don’t preach" rule. So many people today are unchurched. They do not understand or recognize our Christian lingo. Although it is familiar to us, we must not assume the reader understands. Here are some phrases that would not be understood, unless explained in the devo.

The Bride of Christ.
I felt convicted.
Washed in the Blood.
A living sacrifice.

Place yourself in the position of an unchurched reader. Ask yourself, “Would this make sense to my neighbors? Is this how I talk to them, or am I writing in Christianese? Who is my audience, and what am I conveying with each word I write?

Pray that your writing will be effective and life-changing. Ask the Lord to make 1 Corinthians 2:4 apply to your devotional writing. “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power.”(NIV)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Babbling about Books--Thursday--People of the Book

People of the Book
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Publisher: Viking Publishing

Before I began this book, I had heard several different opinions. “It’s hard to follow,” or “It’s wonderful.” It turns out People of the Book was both of these opinions.

This book is a fictionalized history of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah. A Haggadah is the book used to set the order for the Jewish Passover Seder every year. I had the privilege of visiting Israel in 2000 and purchased a copy of a Haggadah. It’s one of my treasures that I plan on passing down to my children.

People of the Book is an interwoven account that begins in 1996 with an Australian book expert. Her job is to restore the priceless book. As she works on it, she begins to find clues to its history. Wine stains, a butterfly wing, salt, and a white begin to tell the tale that takes the reader through centuries of intrigue. The Inquisition, World War II, and other gripping eras make for a remarkable tale.

The characters show the humanity and evil of each generation and religious viewpoint. The chapters flip from past to present to past to present. A variety of protagonists and antagonists each take a chapter, and then People of the Book reverts to the life of Hannah the Sarejevo Haggadah restorer. In addition to a multitude of characters, it reveals the thoughts of Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

My recommendation on People of the Book is to check out the Amazon reviews. Also, read the online historical information on the actual Sarajevo Haggadah. Then make a determination if this is book for you. Geraldine Brooks won the Pulitzer Prize for her book March, which I loved, but I think I liked People of the Book even more. However, “It’s confusing. It’s wonderful. It’s both.”

Happy Reading,

Monday, August 17, 2009

Travel Thoughts

My husband and I are still traveling around in a motorhome. We have visited my mom in Utah, traveled to Jackson, Wyoming and the Grand Tetons. We saw a bit of Yellowstone and headed toward Cody, WY. Yee Haw! Then we headed toward Deadwood, South Dakota. Yesterday I took a "mental health day" -- no sightseeing, no riding around. Just a day to read and write--heavenly.

Today we roamed through the cemetery of Wild Bill Hickock & Calamity Jane in Deadwood, SD. I wandered through the graves with a group of other tourists. I wondered why humans are so interested in dead people.

Most people stopped and read the headstones. This was the "wild west" and most people didn't live long. The age of 50 seemed to be a ripe old age in Deadwood during the 1800's. I watched the people's faces as they studied the tombs. No one seemed to think that they would ever end up in an isolated grave.

All this was on a Sunday, and my thoughts went to my Lord's empty tomb. I kept thinking of what that means. No one except Jesus has ever risen from the dead. Thankfully, because of His power over death it changes my outlook on the inevitable graveyard. My bones may lie there, but my spirit will rise to worship my Jesus. Praise Him!

Tomorrow we head toward Minneapolis. My chickadee peeps live there. (That would be my two granddaughters.) Then on Friday my son, daughter-in-love, and grandson will arrive. Sort of a small family reunion to celebrate Michael's 2nd birthday. Fun stuff!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Friday--The Writer's Porch--The Body of the Devo

Shortbread: How to Write Great Devotionals Part 4—The Body

Friday—The Writer's Porch

On the last Writer’s Porch we talked about the fact that usually you have an idea for a devotional and then find a Scripture that applies. So assuming that you have a must write thought and you have found the perfect Bible verse, let’s start to write the main portion of the devotional. This is the body of devo—the story or the anecdote.

This section allows you display your gift of writing. Woo your reader in with the very first sentence. Hook them—make them want to read to the end.

Here are a couple of samples of hook sentences that I have written.

“’I hate you!” she said as the door slammed behind her.’” (A Surprising Answer)

“My first mistake was that I named him.” (Stinkin’ Cute)

“Do you want to scream every time your daughter arrives sporting a new facial piercing?” (Is that Your Wild Child?)

Hopefully, these sentences intrigued you. My goal would be for you to say, “Hmmmm, I wish I could read the rest of that devotion.”

After writing a fabulous first sentence, keep your writing moving. Use action verbs that speed the reader forward. Try to avoid the passive verbs or “to be “ verbs, such as has, had, have, to be, etc. Passive verbs slow the reader down and lose their interest. It is better to say, “He slurped the cola” instead of “He had a cola.”

Make your verbs as action packed as possible. Read the following three sentences.

The squirrel ran up the tree.

The squirrel scooted up the oak tree.

The squirrel scurried up the evergreen pine.

Which of these sentences paints the picture in your mind? Scribble out your devotional and then go back to edit and revise the verbs and the descriptions. This enables you to get your original thoughts down and then perfect your piece of writing later.

So on that note, I want to share a memory. I remember being in 8th grade and painting a picture of the mountains. (I am an awful artist.) However, I clearly remember my art instructor chiding me and saying, “Mountains are only purple in songs.” I guess he was referring to the line from “America the Beautiful.” Now many years later, I am writing this blog trom Cody, Wyoming, and I am telling you the mountains appear purple.

Again, here are a couple of examples from two of my own past Proverbs 31 Devotionals.

The elderly gentleman approached us on a razor scooter. He grinned as he approached and I was almost blinded by his gold teeth that glittered in the afternoon sun. His 1970’s shorts clashed with his tie-dyed t-shirt. His baseball cap cocked to one side revealed long, thin, stringy hair dyed to auburn brown. (Peculiar Pete)

Every night Stinkin’ Cute appeared by my door. His sleek black and white fur shone underneath the porch light. The small critter’s eyes looked up expectantly for a nibble of food. I couldn’t resist. I tossed a piece of bread which he held daintily between his paws as he gobbled it. Stinkin’ Cute, a baby skunk, was adorable—until he became a stinking nuisance. (Stinkin’ Cute)

Describe what you see, smell, touch, hear and feel and you will grab the reader. The reader does not want to see black and white, they want to see through your eyes. Write what you experience in life! A well written devo can change lives. Write the best you can, for it will be written in people’s heart for eternity.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Babbling about Books -- Thursday -- An Untroubled Heart

An Untroubled Heart
Micca Campbell
Publisher: David C. Cook

One of my favorite people in the world is Micca Campbell. I have served with her at Proverbs 31 Ministries for many years; she is funny and caring. If I could be someone when I “grow-up”, it would be Micca.

Her book An Untroubled Heart released in March. If you have never heard Micca’s life story, it is told in this book. It describes the grief and sorrow that Micca experienced in her early twenties. Then it details the fear that overtook her heart. But more importantly, she shares how she overcame the fear that crippled her.

One word describes Micca and her book--memorable! Micca’s passion for Jesus and His ability to heal hurting lives breathes new life into every listener. She captivates the audience with her ability to weave deep truths together with humor. Micca’s message in An Untroubled Heart has changed my life, and I know it will change you, too!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Vacation--Grand Tetons

I am on my family vacation as I write. I am in a campground in Jackson, WY looking in awe at the Grand Tetons. God did amazing handiwork!

I ordered an elk burger, but the cafe was out of elk. I settled for a buffalo burger. It was delicious.

We are traveling with my 5-year-old Shih Tzu, Taffy, and my two new puppies--Tiki & Tulip. We are having an adventure, but these are the memories that will last a lifetime. This is a picture of them traveling in my grandson Michael's car seat. I know I am nuts.

God is good!

Genesis 1:9-11, And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. (NIV)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Shortbread: How to Write Great Devotionals, Part 3—The Verse

Friday—The Writers’ Porch

Shortbread: How to Write Great Devotionals, Part 3—The Verse

Last week at our She Speaks! Conference I had several gals ask me a great devotional question. Do you pick a Scripture verse and then write the devotional, or do you find a topic and then choose a Scripture that fits? Great question!

Usually a topic will pique your interest and then you search for a Scripture verse that applies to the body of your devotion. For example, I recently wrote The Bohemian Skirt, my tale of a beautiful but misbehaved skirt. I knew the primary point that I wanted to make about the skirt. I then prayed and asked the Lord to reveal the verse to me. I waited. Then Psalm 19:13 came to me, “Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.” (NLT).

After I had chosen my verse, I then wrote the body of the devotion, weaving the verse into a life applicable message. In my opinion, this is the easiest way to write a devotion. However, that being said, it is CRUCIAL that you do not lift a verse out of the context of original text and meaning. Do not just use a verse or a portion of the verse just because it fits what you want to write about. Before choosing a verse read the entire passage. Know what the biblical author’s original intent was for the verse.

For example, one of the verses I often hear quoted out of context is this. Someone will write or say, “God will not give you more than you can bear.” But that is not what Scripture states. Paul wrote that we cannot be tempted beyond what we can bear. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (NIV) This is the most important point in selecting a verse—again, do not quote out of context.

Occasionally, if you write a work for hire devo, the publisher will often select the Scripture passage and require you to write the body of the devotion accordingly. I have found this much more difficult. I have had remote verses from Ezekiel, Revelation, etc., that are difficult to come up with a meaningful devotional for, but it can be done. It takes more prayer, additional time, and expertise in writing.

One more item when selecting your verse—always let the publisher know which translation you are using. Also, be aware some publishers require a specific Bible translation. Do follow their instructions on the translation.

Now, I am going to give you a writing challenge. Write a short devotional from one of the following:

Topic: A Hail Storm, or Verse: Psalm 73:28.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Babbling about Books -- Thursday -- Tea with a Twist

Tea with a Twist: Entertaining and Cooking with Tea
Author: Lisa Boalt Richardson
Publisher: Harvest House, 2009

Do you like tea? I do. Actually, I am addicted to it. I drink a pot everyday in the morning. Then I drink iced tea during the day. Plus, I drink a couple of cups of green tea at night. Can you say, “Addiction?”

So when my friend wrote Tea with a Twist I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Then I received a copy pre-release! Honestly, I can tell you that it is one of the most beautiful books I have ever laid eyes upon. It is filled with gorgeous photography—it is a feast for the eyes. But the enteraintment ideas are fun: Bubble Tea Party, Tropical Tea by the Sea Party, and Indian Chai Tea are just a few of the entertaining suggestions.

But the best is finding out how to cook with tea. What do you think of these recipe titles: Jack Cheese and Green Chili Scones, White Chocolate Green Tea Sauce, or Key Lime Coconut Bars. Yummy!

Lisa writes, “Indulge your guests and serve them in fine style.” Believe me, this book is a must have if you are a tea drinker or know someone who loves tea. Not only does it inspire you to hospitality, but it is a beautiful coffee table book. Serve the tea and jump start the conversation over this book. You will be serving Tea with a Twist.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

SHE SPEAKS! Then She Sleeps, She Rests

I had every intention of blogging yesterday--but instead I rested, slept, and sorted through piles of laundry and paperwork. For those who don't know, I just returned from Charlotte, NC. I was at the Proverbs 31 Ministries Conference She Speaks! It was a blast, but I came home tired and on a different time zone.

Anyway, the conference was fabulous. We worshipped, we studied, we wrote, we spoke, we prayed, we blogged, but best of all Jesus showed up and showered His blessings upon us. One of the highlights was listening to Jennifer Rothschild. Oh my! She knocked my socks off with words of wisdom.

And my speaker evaluation group shone brightly. I had the privilege of listening to some of the most amazing testimonies and teachings I have ever heard. Our group consisted of 11 gals & me. They each blessed me in different ways. As I said, it was a privilege to be the group evaluator. Here's a picture, but sadly two of our girls had to leave early and missed the photo.

Another highlight at She Speaks was the unveiling of a new branch of Proverbs 31 Ministries--She Reads. This launched so that those of us who love fiction will have a "book club" to join. Check out the She Reads page at Three new books have been recommended, and I can't wait to read them.

Okey Dokey! Until tomorrow!