On my writing “To do” list

 

Ford Quote

As my children head back to school, I’m taking stock of my own “To do” lists. Here’s what I have on my list so far:

  1. Get my children successfully started in school.
  2. Start my Music for Young Children classes. I’m still putting my schedule together for the fall, so if you want to register your child, contact me as soon as possible. I’ll be offering some classes through the Bonnyville and St. Paul Parent Link Centres as well as teaching at home.
  3. Writing

On my writing “To do” list:

  1. Write consistently for my blog. I’m still aiming for 3 times a week: Monday – writing related posts, Wednesday – what I’m learning in my walk with God, Friday – healthy eating/fitness posts.
  2. Submit monthly to 3 sites: Helping Hands Press (published on the 11th), A Beautiful Life (my first post will be published on Wednesday, August 27th), InScribe Writers Online (published on the 29th)
  3. Organize my thoughts and notes for a workshop on blogging I’m presenting at the InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship Fall Conference on Friday, September 26th.
  4. Finish Olga’s story – I’m over 40,000 words into my novel, but need to get it finished, edited, and off to the publisher.
  5. Put together 10 devotionals for a new Uplifting Devotionals series. I’m excited to be working with four other Canadians on this project. Once the contracts are signed I’ll give you some details. This is scheduled to be released by the end of October.
  6. Write my story for the San Francisco Wedding Planner Series (Number 3). You can purchase any of the stories in series 1 or 2 from Amazon. Series 3 stories will be released bi-weekly, starting on September 4th. My story will be released on November 20th, and the complete series 3 bundle will be released on November 27th.
  7. Write a Christmas story for a Christmas bundle. Again, I’ll be collaborating with four other Canadians.
  8. Twitter manual for writers – This project is in the middle of being revised and edited. I’m planning to have it published early in the new year.

What’s on your “To do” list? Let’s cheer each other on!


Sharing stories with our children

Story quote 1

This week in our Proverbs 31 online Bible study, I especially appreciated Lysa Terkeurst’s questions and suggestions at the end of Chapter 24: Do They See Jesus in Me? Here’s a summary for your benefit:

  • Think back over your life and pinpoint some specific moments that made your heart leap for joy. Write them down, so that you can review them when you’re facing difficulties.
  • Share your happy memories with your children and husband
  • Review your childhood and write down at least one memory where God’s hand was evident
  • Write down a time Jesus was very real to you recently
  • Pray, thanking God for the special moments in your life
  • Write a prayer celebrating parenting and confessing your shortcomings to God. Ask Him for strength to make any changes you need to make.

I hope you’ll take time to do some of these exercises.

Moments that made my heart leap for joy:

  • Visiting my Grandparents in Three Hills (Grandma Beam’s desserts were legendary!)
  • Visiting my Grandparents in Gibbon (It took no time at all for 50 or more relatives to gather!)
  • Using wax paper to make the circular slide beside Grandpa & Grandma Beam’s more slippery
  • When my dad made a special trip to visit me on my birthday while I was attending Bible College
  • Surprising my parents when I was one of the speakers for my Bible College graduation
  • Finding a place to order an out of print book when I worked in customer service at Prairie Bookroom
  • Working at Whitney Lake Bible Camp
  • Getting rid of all the piles of files on the credenza after I started working as a legal secretary
  • My first date with Kendall
  • Our wedding day
  • The day we brought Grace, our oldest daughter, home
  • When we received an adoption order in the mail
  • When Kendall was able to compete in the Yamaha competition in Toronto
  • The day we met Luke and Levi
  • The day Jayson arrived home
  • When Luke and Levi said “Mom and Dad” after 4 years of signing
  • Winning the Northern Lights School Division school board bi-election
  • Bringing Dorothy home
  • Winning first place in the God Uses Ink contest
  • Taking a walk and capturing beauty with my camera

As I thought about these moments that made my heart leap for joy, I realized that every one has a story behind it. I also thought about how I should be more intentional about sharing these stories with my children. There are some things we have put into place to help share the memories:

  • I have made a wedding album as well as a photo album for each child. We often pull out these albums and talk about things that happened and how God has blessed us.
  • We have adoption parties for our children. On the anniversary of the date a child’s adoption order was signed, we have a party. The child gets to pick who comes to the party, his or her favourite food, and where the party takes place.

What about you? What makes your heart leap for joy? How do you share stories with your children?

 


When you need encouragement

 

Phil 4,8

Sometimes we just need to step back from our every day life and take a deep breath. Some days we need encouragement, a fresh perspective. If that’s where you are today, this post is for you.

1. Take time to read God’s Word and let it nourish you. Here are some of my favourite passages:

  • Psalm 37
  • Isaiah 40
  • Matthew 5
  • Romans 8
  • Philippians 4

2. Take a walk outside and enjoy the beauty of creation. Here is some of the beauty I found on a recent walk around our property.

 

Bean sprout
Miracle of new life displayed in a bean sprout

 

Bluebells
Fragile beauty of bluebells

 

favourite pathway
A favourite pathway of mine

 

3. Read encouraging words. Here are some blogs I find encouraging:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 6:24-26

Do you have other things you do when you need encouragement? Share them with us 🙂


From orphan to adopted: Marinate on that!

Right now, God the Papa says, "I want to adopt you as My child." Will you let Him?

I’m being challenged by the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study using Derwin L. Gray’s book Limitless Life. Chapter four of the book is titled, From Orphan to Adopted:

“We roam through life lost, looking for a love and identity that no human, no job, no amount of money could ever provide. Our Papa in heaven is the only One who can provide us with the love and, ultimately, the identity we have been created for—a child of God.”  Derwin L. Gray

In this chapter, Derwin discusses how orphans feel anonymous, abandoned, and afraid. Then he goes on to describe three keys to “taking on the new label of ‘Adopted'”:

  1. Embrace the Friendship of God
  2. Accept and Imitate the Forgiveness of God
  3. Accept the Adopting Love of God

Throughout the book, Derwin presents important ideas that are highlighted in boxed areas titled, “Marinate on That”. Here’s an idea that’s marinating in my mind and soul:

” . . . did you realize that whatever we magnify, we worship? And whatever we worship, we resemble? If we wallow in self-pity, we will become more pitiful and limit our lives. If we stay in Jesus and meditate on what He’s accomplished on our behalf, we magnify His great work, and as we do this, we worship Him. The result is that daily we are transformed into His image, releasing His limitless life through us.”

This week a counselor pointed out to me that I’m living in the shadow of bitterness over some things that happened to me in the past. People I respected and trusted betrayed me; people who are brothers and sisters in Christ. If I focus on the hurt and betrayal, I will continue to be bitter, and in the process I will lose out on God’s best for my life. Instead, Jesus wants me to focus on HIM. I don’t need to live in the shadow of bitterness any longer. I am choosing instead to live in Jesus and meditate on what He’s accomplished on my behalf:

  1. Jesus died for my sin (I Cor. 15:1-10)
  2. When I confess my sin and forsake it, Jesus forgives me and cleanses me (I John 1:9)
  3. Jesus loves me (John 3:16)
  4. Jesus wants the best for me (Jeremiah 29:11)
  5. I will have hard times in my life, but Jesus will walk with me through them. (Isaiah 43:1-4)
  6. No matter what, Jesus will NEVER leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5,6)
  7. Jesus is trustworthy; He will not betray me (Psalm 34)

Are you living in the shadows? Will you join me as I step out into the glorious light of Jesus Christ and revel in the love and delight of God the Papa?


The road to change: Excuses or Honesty?

I know I shouldn't eat this cake, butI stepped on the scale today for my weekly weigh-in and discovered the numbers are getting bigger instead of smaller. The increase is only a few pounds; I’m not discouraged, just motivated to get back on track and make better choices. In the last week, I’ve used a lot of excuses to make choices I shouldn’t have made: I’m tired, I’m stressed-out, I’ve been good and deserve a reward, It’s only a small Frosty. You get the idea. As a result, I’ve eaten too many calories, and often the wrong kind of calories. Now I’ve earned the natural consequences – gaining weight.

I’ve been working with one of my sons on making a change in his life. He’s a real master at excuses. There’s always a reason he couldn’t do what he should have, and it’s never his fault. I keep telling him that change won’t happen if he continues to use excuses. Hmmm. I guess it’s time for me to take my own advice 🙂

I’m still discovering what works for me, but here are the changes I’m enforcing this week:

  • Stay within my calorie limit for the day. If I go over, it shouldn’t be because of junk food
  • Focus on eating healthy foods that are packed with nutrition. If I have a choice between a piece of chocolate and a handful of nuts, the nuts should be an obvious choice.
  • No more snacking after supper. I find it too easy to keep eating once I start. Maybe someday I’ll get to the place I can handle one healthy snack after supper, but until I can, I really don’t need a snack after supper.
  • Make sure I drink enough water. Especially now that it’s getting warmer outside, I need to make sure I stay hydrated.

What about you? Are you being honest with yourself or making excuses?


Why every writer needs to find his community

In my last post, I shared thoughts about what community means to me. Today I want to take that a step farther and talk about why every writer needs a community.

writers at a writing workshop

Writing is a solitary activity, one we do in any number of places, but always alone. Writers need to shut out the rest of the world in order to think and put words together in a way that makes sense and communicates clearly. The work of writing is rewarding, but often arduous and frustrating. Writers need to force themselves to sit and write, learning to ignore the many distractions around them. Writing is complex. There are many words to choose from, but writers need to find the right one to convey just the right nuance. Research takes hours. Characters take on a life of their own and put twists into the plot the author wasn’t expecting. Most writers squeeze their craft in while working at a full-time career or raising a family. Writers put their heart and soul into their work. It’s an art. And in the life of an artist, critics abound. Often the worst critic is the writer himself.

What does community provide for a writer?

  1. People who speak the same language – Those who don’t write, don’t understand how writers need to write. They don’t understand why we talk to our characters. They don’t get why we spend hours on our craft, often late at night or very early in the morning when most people are sleeping. A writing group provides a place to tell it like it is and find understanding.
  2. Encouragement and support – Writing has been compared to giving birth. We labor for months, sometimes years, over a project. We revise and rewrite and then sometimes we are brave enough to submit. Some writers have enough rejection slips to paper their walls. When our work is rejected, it’s hard to separate our work from ourselves and we can also feel rejected. When our work is published, we want the whole world to celebrate with us, but the reality is that many sell less than 500 copies of their books. A writing group provides a venue to vent frustrations and cheer each other on. In Christian writing groups we are also able to pray for each other and share encouraging verses that uplift others.
  3. Objective feedback – It’s almost impossible to edit our own work properly. Often when we read our own work, we read what we intended to write instead of what’s in front of us in black and white. Reading out loud helps, but it’s even more helpful to have a critique group who will give you objective feedback. Writing groups may provide critiques. Although it’s nice to have people tell us we write well, we also need people who will tell us when we need to go back to the proverbial drawing board or give suggestions on how to make our writing really come alive. We can pay editors to do this work, but getting a variety of opinions is also very useful.

One group of writers I belong to is InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. This group offers an annual fall conference as well as many ways to connect using the internet. I live in a rural area where there is no writing group that meets in person. InScribe has filled a huge gap for me. If you’re a Canadian writer who is a Christian, I invite you to come join us.


How do you define community?

community: picture of four children holding hands and playing in the sunI’m looking forward to starting on another online Bible study with Proverbs 31 Ministries beginning next week. We’ll be using Limitless Life by Derwin L. Gray as the launch pad for our discussions. In preparation for this study we were encouraged to blog about what community means to us.

Here’s how Dictionary.com defines community:

community

[kuhmyoo-ni-tee] Show IPA

noun, plural com·mu·ni·ties.

1.a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.
2.a locality inhabited by such a group.
3.a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists (usually preceded by the  ): the business community; the community of scholars.
4.a group of associated nations sharing common interests or a common heritage: the community of Western Europe.
5.Ecclesiastical . a group of men or women leading a common life according to a rule.
Here’s how I define community:
  1. Community means support – a community is made of a group of individuals with different abilities. When you live in the community you have access to a variety of skills which you yourself don’t posses.
  2. Community brings challenges – living in community takes work. Sometimes it would be “easier” to live on our own. When you live in community you need to communicate clearly, be willing to share, and sometimes even be willing to be wronged.
  3. Community means accountability – When you grow up in a small town, you can’t “get away” with too much. If you’re not doing what’s right, someone is going to call you on it or phone your parents about it. When we live in community, we hold each other accountable, because we all want what’s best for the community.
  4. Community thrives on shared purpose – There has to be a reason for people to do the hard work of living in community. Shared purpose or a common goal provides that reason. When everybody in the community agrees on a common goal, each person is able to contribute to the betterment of the community.

What does community mean to you?

 


Blog Tour for the Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas

12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour LogoIn preparation for the official launch of the Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas paperback on Thursday, May 29th, many of the 12 authors are participating in a blog tour. I invite you to come along as we get to know other authors who participated in the collection. Here is the blog tour schedule, along with links to the authors’ blogs:

Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour

May 19 – Ruth L. Snyder at http://ruthlsnyder.com/

May 20 – Anne Baxter Campbell at http://pewperspective.blogspot.com/

May 21 – Marcia Lee Laycock at www.writer-lee.blogspot.ca

May 22 – Mishael Witty at http://bluebrownbooks.com/

May 23 – Christine Lindsay at www.christinelindsay.com/

May 24 – Sheila Seiler Lagrand at http://sheilalagrand.com/

May 26 – Jessica Ferguson at http://jessyferguson.blogspot.com

May 27 – Kathy Bruins at  http://www.kathybruins.com/writing-speaking-and-other-interests/

May 28 – Peg Phifer at http://www.whispersinpurple.com

May 29 – Jeanette Hanscome at http://jeanettehanscome.com/

What Does Christmas mean to you?

What do you think of when you hear the word “Christmas”? Snow? Turkey? Family get-togethers? Gifts? Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ? Decorations? Sleigh Rides? Church? Caroling?

Sometimes we don’t stop and think about what it would be like to celebrate Christmas in a different country, on a different continent. In Cecile’s Christmas Miracle, my main character, Cecile, is spending her first Christmas in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. There is no snow. In fact, the temperature is hovering in the high 30 degree range (Celsius). She is hot, and sweaty and dealing with bugs and poverty and corruption. There is no air conditioning. There is no turkey, or family to get together with, or decorations. Obviously, without snow, there are no sleigh rides, and many of the Christmas songs she grew up singing don’t fit. Well, maybe I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas does. Although the people she serves have strong beliefs, most of them don’t believe in Jesus Christ because they’ve never had the opportunity to hear about His birth, life and death. They have no Bibles. In fact, many of them don’t know how to read.

Here in North America, it’s easy to lose sight of the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Often we get caught up in the commercialism of pretty wrapping paper, exquisite decorations, expensive gifts, and lavish meals. There is nothing wrong with any of these things. However, we need to remember who and why we’re celebrating. Jesus Christ, the God-man was born in a humble cattle shed and laid in a manger. He left the splendor of Heaven and laid aside His rights to take on the form of a servant. He walked this earth, ministered to people, and lived a sinless life. Then, He chose to walk the road to Calvary where He willingly gave His life as the Lamb of God. He took my place and yours on the cross. He accepted our punishment so that we can have a personal relationship with God. Then He rose again. Some day He’s coming back to earth to gather all who believe in and follow Him so that we can spend eternity together in Heaven.

It’s my hope that Cecile’s Christmas Miracle will show you what it’s like to celebrate Christmas in a different country. It’s also my hope that you will remember people you know who are overseas, whether in the military, as missionaries, or for work. Make time to send them a care package, or schedule a Skype visit with them. Better yet, go visit them and take a “walk in their shoes”. The first Christmas was about giving. Will you follow in Jesus’ footsteps and give what you can to make the lives of others better?

Enter a comment below for your chance to win a free paperback copy of the Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas. I will be making the draw on Thursday, May 29th and will announce the winner on my Facebook Author Page at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRuthL.Snyder. NOTE: You must be 18 years or older to participate in the draw.