Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. Thomas A. Edison

Week of June 21 to 28, 2015 – Technology blips, Last week of school, and Editing

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. Thomas A. Edison

This has been one of those weeks:
  • On Sunday night our internet suddenly died. A few phone calls and a couple days later the internet service came back to life. (The power pack for the radio system needed to be replaced.)

  • The last week of school is always hectic – exams, sorting, signing IPPs, report cards . . . I also participated on a hiring interview panel in my role as Glendon School Council Chair.

  • I’m in the middle of editing the next book in my Twitter series. Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps launches on July 15th. Keep your eyes open for some cover options I’m considering.
  • In my last posts I’ve mentioned aiming to be more consistent with my blog posts. Busyness held me back this week. However, so did technology. This is my 4th attempt to write this post. The first three times NOTHING saved. I’m not sure I would be as persistent as Thomas Edison, who tried 1,000 times before he figured out how to make a light bulb work. When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail that many times, Edison replied:

“I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” (Click to Tweet) 

  • I thought these two graphics summed up my week well – encouragement to try one more time, and waiting for the Lord.

How did your week go?

Psalm 33

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5 Things I Appreciated About Write Canada 2015

Write Canada 2015 Art
Picture taken at Write Canada 2015 by Stephanie Nickel

I just returned home on Sunday from Toronto, where I attended Write Canada 2015. Over the next few weeks I plan to share some of the teaching and tips I picked up while I was there, but today I’ll share an overview.

1. Focus

Although Write Canada is a writing conference and the focus is on writing, the overarching focus is on God, because attendees are Christian writers. During the event, we were all challenged to consider questions such as:

  • How has God gifted you, and what are you doing with that gift?
  • Are you in God’s Word?
  • Are you interpreting God’s Word accurately?
  • How are you using your writing to shine God’s light on issues?
  • Are you giving glory to God for successes?

 

2. Workshops

I always find it a challenge to pick workshops when I attend writing conferences, because there are so many helpful sessions available. (That’s why I ordered ALL the sessions that were recorded!) This year I decided to focus on self-publishing and writing shorter pieces. The sessions I attended were:

  • Book Launches that Sizzle Panel
  • Magazine Editor Panel
  • Five Keys to Becoming a Successful Indie Author/Publisher with Linda Hall
  • Marketing Best Practices with Mark Lefebvre
  • Going Global – Write Locally & Sell Globally with Mark Lefebvre
  • Turning Personal Experience into a Devotional Message with Susan King
  • The Game of Publishing with Warren Benson

 

3. Networking

Talking with Susan King and Brenda Wood. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston
Talking with Susan King and Brenda Wood. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston

Writing conferences provide a unique opportunity for authors to meet and interact with other authors, agents, editors, and publishers. I enjoyed the opportunity to have conversations with:

Faculty members at Write Canada graciously make themselves available to have conversations, answer questions, listen to queries, and share their knowledge and expertise.

Deborah Ironstand and James Peters. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston
Deborah Ironstand and James Peters. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston

A special opportunity to network took place Saturday during lunch in a discussion regarding Aboriginal Christian writing in Canada. Dorene Meyer invited James Peters and Deborah Ironstand to join her on a panel. Dorene started the discussion by apologizing for the way Canadians have treated First Nations people. James and Deborah acknowledged the apology and offered forgiveness. Then Deborah read “The Sweet Presence,” a story published in Northern Writers Volume 5. She wept as she read. This is the first opportunity she’s ever had to read her story publicly. James shared his testimony of how God saved him. He said he wants to share his story in schools and churches so that young people don’t have to live through what he did. Doreen invited anyone who would be interested in publishing and promoting Aboriginal Christian writers to contact her. I’m excited to see where this will lead.

4. Friendships

Everything is better when you have friends! I enjoyed hugging and chatting with many of my Christian writing friends over the weekend. Write Canada provided many opportunities to hear about challenges and victories we’ve experienced and to celebrate excellence in writing. (The Word Awards Gala took place Saturday evening, immediately following the Write Canada conference.) Meeting face-to-face with friends I’ve met only through social media made it even better. I also enjoyed meeting people I’d never met before and adding them to my circle of friends.

5. Photography

Organizers of Write Canada arranged to have Stephen G. Woo, a professional photographer, available to take pictures on an appointment basis. He made the shoot fun, and when he found out I’ve written a book about Twitter, he customized the photos around that. I expected to have one or maybe two pictures to choose from, but he sent me twenty-one! Here are some of my favourites.

Pictures he took at The Word Awards Gala are available to view on Facebook.

As you can tell, Write Canada is a great event. I’m thankful God made a way for me to attend. Tell us about your favourite conference to attend!

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Introducing Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake by Tandy Balson

I met Tandy Balson last year through Facebook; we were both planning to attend Write Canada and looking for roommates. Although we had never met face-to-face  before June 2014, we experienced an immediate rapport because of our common beliefs and interests. (Tandy is my sister in the family of God and we are both writers.) This week I’m celebrating Tandy’s release of her newest book, Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake: Finding Inspiration in Everyday Things. She has given me permission to share the following reading with you (from page 41 in the book).

Tandy cover

Spice Cake

When asked what kind of cake she’d like for her birthday, my daughter didn’t hesitate. “Spice cake with caramel frosting” was the quick reply. I happily obliged and made the cake, along with a favourite meal to take to her house the following day. She and her two oldest children have celiac disease, so I modified the recipes to make them safe and enjoyable for all.

I left the remainder of the cake with her. Being a very generous person, she shared it that night with other gluten-free friends. The next day one of them asked for the recipe. My daughter and I didn’t think twice about the recipe, but her friend was confused. You see, the recipe was a regular one from my old Betty Crocker cookbook and not a specific gluten-free recipe.

Over the years I have become quite comfortable at taking favourite recipes and adapting them to suit our changing needs. With practice this has become so successful that others don’t know of the changes. The end results are the same texture and flavour as regular recipes.

So it is with my life. I may end up with a similar result as you but don’t achieve it in the same way. There are adaptations along the way. I can maintain the integrity of my goal while learning to be flexible and adapt along the way. God guides each of us in the way we should go. Our end goal is the same, but there are many interesting ways to get there.

“For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” (Psalm 107:9 NIV)


 

Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake: Finding Inspiration in Everyday Things by Tandy Balson is now available for purchase from:

www.timewithtandy.com ( Tandy is offering a giveway for those who purchase through her website the week of April 20-26), Friesen Press and Amazon.

 

Tandy Balson

Tandy is a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, volunteer and observer of life.  Her greatest joys in life are spending time with family and friends, baking (but then I have to give it away so I don’t eat it all!), spending time in nature, reading and writing.

She has been doing inspirational speaking in BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan since 2001.  You can read her twice weekly blogs at www.timewithtandy.com

Her work has been accepted for publication in FellowScript Magazine, Testimony Magazine and The Upper Room.


Writer’s Blog Hop – Sample from Hope: Reflections to brighten the Dark Days of Life

31 Days of Hope231 Days of Hope1

One of the major projects I’m working on this year is a series of Kindle books (31 Days of … Series). The first book I’m putting together is Hope: Reflections to brighten the Dark Days of Life. I’ve worked on the cover design and received feedback. Now I need to finalize which colour scheme I’m going with. Which cover do you prefer? Left or right? Or is there a different colour you think I should try for the main title? (Let me know in the comment section below.)

Below you’ll find Focus, one of the devotionals I’ll be including in the book. I’m also learning to make podcasts, so listen in if you prefer 🙂

NOTE: to see what other authors are working on, go to the blog hop.

Focus

By Ruth L. Snyder

It’s 8:03. The bus comes at 8:25. My daughter wants me to read a story to her and her brothers are looking at the latest Scholastic book order forms, trying to get my attention so they can tell me what they want to order. I want to tell them we’ll deal with the book order after school, except today’s the last day orders are being accepted. My daughter opens her book. I start reading. While she’s flipping to the next page I find one of the desired books and circle it on the order form. I read the next page. One son pushes his way closer so he can listen too. I read the next page then cut out the order form while the page is being flipped. This process continues until 8:11. The book is finished; the order forms are half filled out. It’s time to get jackets, backpacks, and mitts. I still need to add the order up, write a cheque, and write the book down on my daughter’s reading list.

“Get your jackets on. I’ll finish here.”

The children rush to the entryway. I add the order up, write a cheque, staple everything together, and write the book down on the reading list. I’ll clean up after the kids are on the bus.

I take the order and reading list to the entryway. Two boys are on their way out the door. My daughter is having trouble with her zipper. My other son is nowhere to be seen. I put the order and reading list in her backpack and help with the zipper. Then I go in search of my MIA son. He’s just coming out of his room.

“Hurry! It’s time to go.”

As I’m talking to him, a glimpse of the sky takes my breath away. The sunrise is beautiful. For over a week temperatures hovered in the minus thirty range. Today it’s warmer and the sky is showing evidence of the change in temperature. You know the saying: “Red in the morning, Shepherd’s warning.” I race to grab my camera and snap a picture. My daughter’s ready, and my son is close behind.

As we walk to the bus, my focus is on the beauty of the sunrise. The busyness of the morning rush is forgotten. I breathe deeply, smile at the antics of our Husky dog, Olaf, snap pictures, and pray with my children before they climb on the bus. After the bus leaves, I continue to snap pictures as the sun rises and colours change. I revel in the moment, knowing it will soon disappear and the hectic pace of life will be back, clawing and whining for attention.

Focus. We can choose our focus. We can allow all the ugly, dark, discouraging events we all face to drag us down. Or, we can instead focus on the glimpses of beauty that surround us.

In Matthew 14, we read about the disciples crossing a lake in the middle of the night. It was stormy. They had to work to keep the boat going in the right direction. Then, just before dawn, they saw something, someone, walking on water towards them. Some of them cried out in fear, thinking it was a ghost. Peter responded by calling out:

“Lord, if it’s you, tell me come to you on the water.” (verse 28)

Jesus tells him to come, so Peter gets out of the boat and walks on the water toward Jesus. Verse thirty tells us:

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’”

Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter, rebuking him for doubting, and helping him climb back into the boat.

I don’t know what you’re facing today, but Jesus does. He’s there for you: the same Jesus who spoke the world into existence.

Are we going to focus on our circumstances today? Or are we going to choose to focus on Jesus and trust Him?


Must Read: Fellowship of the Burning Heart

I’ve decided that I will read some classics in 2015. Fellowship of the Burning Heart came highly recommended, so I purchased a copy. It sat on my table until a few days ago when I picked it up and started reading it.

Fellowship of the Burning Heart is a collection of 10 sermons by A.W. Tozer. The collection is edited by James L. Snyder. He has done a great job of keeping the integrity of the sermons while making them a joy to read. In his introduction, James L. Snyder says:

“When you finish reading these ten sermons, you will come away with a reverence for God and an appetite for the sterling spirituality he (Tozer) advocates in his preaching. One thing is certain: you will never be the same after exposing yourself to ‘Platform Tozer.’ I know I’m not.”

The book includes a short biography of A.W. Tozer written by Snyder, some pictures of A.W. Tozer, a study guide, and the ten sermons:

  1. How to Pray for Revival
  2. In Everything by Prayer
  3. Believing Prayer
  4. Prepare by Prayer
  5. He Must Increase
  6. Hearing is a Divine Art
  7. Manifest Presence – Something Else
  8. Presence Everywhere
  9. Three Faithful Wounds
  10. The Way to Paradise

Here are some quotes to whet your appetite:

“Never underestimate the power of prayer. And remember that without it, you cannot win. With it, you cannot lose.”

“The Bible always tells the facts…It tells you that you’ll have eternal life now and lots of trouble and hardships and thorns and cross-bearing in this world and glory in the world to come and eternity with God. If you’re man enough to put up with the thorns and the crosses and the hardships and the hostilities, you can have the crown.”

“God is God. He made Heaven and Earth and holds the world in His hand and measures the dust of the earth in the balance and the sky; He spreads out like a mantle. The great God Almighty is not your servant; you’re His servant. He’s your Father; you’re His child. He sitteth in the heaven and you’re on Earth. The angels veil their faces before the God who cannot lie.”

“Von Hugel said about Pierre Gure, the great saint, ‘The reason Pierre Gure’s writings so incessantly and habitually bless and help so many people is that Pierre Gure refuses – absolutely refuses to write anything until he is blessed himself. He wants the oil of God upon him, flowing, or he won’t touch a pen,’ I think that’s beautiful.”

“Now remember, you can have all your plans you want and you can get the help of all the advertisers and all the modern mechanical gadgets, but when it is all done, you’ll fall short unless first God is glorified in the midst of His Church.”

This book will challenge you, encourage you, and force you to examine the Scriptures.

Tozer Sermons


My Prayer for 2015

Prayer for 2015

Happy New Year! As we step into 2015, here’s my prayer:

Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the gift of a new year. Thank you that you know what each day will hold and You will guide us, strengthen us, and enable us.

Help us to be still and know that You are God (Psalm 46:10).
Help us to listen for Your voice, instead of being distracted by the turbulence around us.
Help us to feed on Your Word so that we may serve from a full heart and mind.
Help us to cast our anxieties on You, knowing that You care for us (I Peter 5:7).
Help us to be obedient to Your calling on our lives, no matter how seemingly insignificant.
Help us to glorify You in all we think, do, and say.

In Jesus Name,

Amen

Several days ago, I signed up for Kristen Ekstein’s Kindlein30 Challenge. Yesterday, I learned a new technique (from the challenge) called “Brain Dump”. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, set the timer for 10 minutes, and write down everything that comes to mind.

Kristen explained that often our creative ideas get “stuck” behind our to do lists and other things that are swirling in our brains. I tried it and this morning I was delighted with the ideas that spontaneously came. I now know what I want to focus on as a writer this year: a series of books that combine many of the topics I jotted down yesterday and showcase my photography while focusing people on Scripture. It’s so obvious now!

My first book will be 31 Days of Hope with pictures of winter beauty. I’m excited to get started. Stay tuned for further details!


Musical Countdown to Christmas: Away in a Manger by John T. McFarland

Musical Christmas3

Welcome to day 3 in my musical countdown to Christmas. You may also be interested in reading the posts for Day 1 and Day 2. Don’t forget to leave a comment below for your chance to win!

Who was John T. McFarland?

  • Born January 2, 1851
  • Methodist Minister who served in Iowa, Illinois, Rhode Island, New York, and Kansas
  • Edited Sunday School Programs for the Methodist Episcopal Church

The Story behind Away in a Manger

  • First published in 1885 in a Lutheran Sunday School book compiled by James R. Murray
  • Most people say the author of the first two stanzas is unknown.
  • Another collection published in 1887 by James R. Murray (Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses) claimed the song was written by Martin Luther. “Luther’s Cradle Hymn, Composed by Martin Luther for his children and still sung by German mothers to their little ones.”
  • The carol became known in Germany AFTER it was widely known in the United States, which discounts the theory that Martin Luther wrote the first two stanzas
  • Third stanza was written by John T. McFarland in 1908 for use in a children’s church day program

Historical Context of the Song

  • Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn was published
  • First issue of Good Housekeeping was published
  • Louis Pasteur developed a successful vaccine against rabies
  • The first bottle of Coca-cola was sold in 1886
  • Nikola Tesla began experimenting with x-rays

Looking for more details?

My Gift for today

Enter a comment below for your chance to win “Welcome to Whit’s End” a CD with two Adventures in Odyssey stories and a bonus mini-drama.

Adventures in Odyssey


Free Christmas Short Story!

Beggar boy sleeping on cardboard sheet

 

This month I would like to give you a Christmas short story called Hope for Jimmy. All you need to do to receive this story is fill in the form below with your name, e-mail address, and tell me what you’d like me to blog about in the coming year.

I hope this story will remind you that there are people who need our help at Christmas time. Ask God how He wants you to reach out and give hope to someone this Christmas.

Matthew 25:31-40 (NIV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

(From The Bible Gateway)

Merry Christmas!

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