2015 Writers’ Blog Hop Week 3 – My favourite character

Grade 7
Picture from Young Pilot September 1980

Thirty four years later I can still picture him: my grade 7 teacher, Mr. Arthur Freeman. (The picture above was taken while I sat in his classroom.) He taught junior high for decades at Prairie Bible Institute. When I met him, his silver-grey hair masked his quick whit, keen mind, and ready sense of humour. His piercing blue eyes often clouded with tears as he implored us to learn from his mistakes. He believed in discipline and structure, but the virtue of love pervaded everything he did.

He often told stories to break down walls and build relationship. Stories of his early years; stories of raising his family; stories of how he and his wife prayed, believing God would turn the hearts of rebellious sons; stories of students coming back years later to make things right. Along with lessons of history and grammar, we learned the lessons of life. Mr. Freeman not only challenged us to memorize 100 verses and recite them with no mistakes, but he also did it himself. While we were allowed to recite individually with him, he recited in front of the class, allowing us to correct him.

Mr. Freeman not only taught us; he mentored us. This mentorship did not end when we walked out the door of his classroom. For at least ten years afterward he was my teacher, I received a bookmark and personal note from him on my birthday. I’ve heard from others that he did the same thing for them, and am assuming he sent those birthday greetings to every student he had in his class. If you do the math, that action alone speaks volumes.

I’m grateful for the amazing legacy he left for those of us who had the privilege of learning with him.

Did you have a teacher or someone else who mentored you? I’d love to hear about that person.

 


2015 Writers' Blog Hop

 

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Family Priorities

I'm taking the Balanced Challenge with Triciai GoyerFor the next 11 days I’m participating in a challenge based on Tricia Goyer’s new book Balanced: Finding Center as a Work-at-Home Mom. (Her book is specifically written for those of us who are moms and writers, but the principles could be applied to other work-at-home options.) Each day I will be answering a question she poses in her book. Today’s question is based on chapter 1 – Family Priorities.

“Determine what your priorities as a family are. Ask yourself a few questions: What do we want to achieve as a family? What will matter five years from now – ten years from now? What will mold our children into God-serving adults? What will bring peace—not stress—to our home?”

family meal, eating together

My Family Priorities:

  1. Our family will read the Bible together and pray together every morning before breakfast.
  2. Our family will pray together and commit the school day to God every morning while we are waiting for the school bus.
  3. Our family will eat balanced meals with an emphasis on whole foods, vegetables, and fruit.
  4. Our family will have supper together at least five times a week.
  5. Our family will read missionary biographies together before bed.
  6. Our family will attend church together.
  7. Our family will celebrate adoption anniversaries as well as birthdays.
  8. Our family will learn to serve the practical needs of others, both here in Canada and in other countries.

If you’ve never thought about what you want your family priorities to be, I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to do this exercise. Our children grow up quickly, and we need to be intentional about the time we have with them.

What priorities does your family have? I’d love to hear about them.


Advice to Beginning Writers

NOTE: This is week 4 of our Writers’ Blog Hop. The theme this week is advice I’d give to a newbie writer. Click on the link below to check out what other writers have to say about the topic.

Button for blog hopDear Beginning Writer,

It wasn’t too long ago that I stood in your shoes. Although I’ve been an avid reader who enjoyed writing for most of my life, I never considered myself a writer until after I attended my first writers’ conference. The best way for me to share advice with you is to tell you a bit about my personal journey as a writer.

I entered The Word Guild’s God Uses Ink contest (Now called Fresh Ink Novice Writing Contest) in 2009 and won first prize in my age category. The prize was free registration for the Write!Canada Conference. I stepped out in faith, booked my flight and attended a conference where I knew no one.

At the conference I learned many things:

  • Writing your book is the “easy” part
  • There are several avenues to having your work published
  • It’s important to start building a platform before you publish anything
  • It’s helpful to belong to organizations where you can interact with other writers and learn from their mistakes
  • If God has called you to write, be obedient and walk through the doors He opens for you

I still remember feeling like I was walking in a fog on a dark night. I knew I was supposed to be at the conference, but I had no clue what to do next. People at the conference were friendly enough, but most of them were from Ontario. I wondered what I would do for support after the conference.

After I arrived back home I decided to do what I could. I sought out support from groups I could access online. The groups I linked up with are:

I didn’t think I had time for a blog, so I joined Twitter and began using it as a mini-blog. I also started a personal Facebook account and enjoyed the opportunities to interact with my friends and family. A few months later, I decided to start a blog as a way to share information from my work as a school board trustee with Northern Lights School Division No. 69.

Testimony January 2010One of the most helpful books I read was Writer Mama: How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids by Christina Katz. One piece of advice she gives is to research markets, write, submit, and start over. In other words, you don’t sit around waiting to see if one piece is accepted before you start on another piece. And if your piece is rejected by one market, you do some more research and send it out again. I started my journey to publication with the winning entry I wrote for the Word Guild contest. It took several months (and many rejections), but my memoir piece entitled Gifts from a Loving God was accepted by Testimony magazine in November 2009 and published in January 2010. It was subsequently reprinted by two Sunday School papers.

Something else I found helpful was Brian Henry’s Canadian Writer’s Contest Calendar. I purchased my first copy in 2010 and began entering contests as a way to learn how to follow writing guidelines and also to receive honest feedback on my writing. The contest I enjoyed the most was Fiction in Five, where I won several prizes and had a few of my short stories published. One of those short stories became the basis for my novella, Cecile’s Christmas Miraclewhich was just published in December 2013.

Cecile's Christmas Miracle Book Cover Although I live in a fairly remote rural area, I’ve been able to take advantage of several writing courses which have helped me hone my skills. The Christian PEN offers courses throughout each year, where lessons are sent by e-mail. Class members are added to a Yahoo listserv and able to send in homework assignments, ask questions, and interact with each other. Long Ridge Writers’ Group and the Institute of Children’s Literature offer writing courses where you receive materials in the mail and may either submit by mail or e-mail. In these courses you are matched with a published author who acts as your instructor and gives you detailed feedback and suggestions.

My writing journey continues with many ups and downs. My prayer is that I’ll be faithful to God’s calling on my life. The rest is up to Him.

If you have questions or suggestions you’ve found helpful, please leave me a comment. Thanks 🙂


Is God Enough?

There are times in our lives when all of us ask, “Is God enough?” We live in a fallen, sinful world where bad things happen to good people. I’ve had a few experiences in my life which have shaken me and forced me to think about what I believe and why.

  • Gifts from a loving God, the first piece I had published, details my journey through infertility and adoption. My husband and I were told we would probably never have children of our own. Several months later, I found out that I was pregnant. I was ecstatic! However, after a few short weeks I miscarried. I still grieve the loss of that baby. Is God enough? Yes!
  • We adopted several children, including twin boys who are now 13. We knew before we adopted the twins that they had special needs. They were born at 27 weeks gestation and were not expected to live because of their high needs. We found out several years later that they were born early because of abuse. More opportunity to grieve. Is God enough? Yes!
  • My dad was diagnosed with dementia about 5 years ago. It’s painful to watch his decline, to see him become a shell of the amazing person he once was. Is God enough? Yes!

I appreciate what Renee Swope challenges us to do in chapter 11 of A Confident Heart:

“Let’s make a promise that every time doubt casts its shadow over us, we will run back to Jesus, turn toward the light, and stand in the shadow of the cross where everything changes. In the shadow of the cross:

  • When you feel inadequate, God says: You are CHOSEN (Isaiah 43:10)
  • When you feel afraid, God says: You are REDEEMED (Isaiah 43:1)
  • When you feel unloved, God says: You are LOVED (Isaiah 43:4)
  • When you feel forgotten, God says: You are REMEMBERED (Isaiah 49:16)
  • When you feel insecure, God says: You are SECURE (Deut. 33:12)
  • When you feel unable or unstable, God says You are ABLE (Hab. 3:19)
  • When you feel worthless, God says: You are CALLED (1 Pet. 2:9)

Open book

Here are a few truths I would add:

  • When you are grieving, God says: I UNDERSTAND (John 11:1-35)
  • When you don’t know how to pray, God says: I’ll INTERCEDE for you (Romans 8:26)
  • When you are staring death in the face, God says: I am preparing a HOME for you. (John 14:1-3)

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As the Apostle Paul says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (I Cor. 15:19) Fortunately this life is not all we have to look forward to – – we also have the hope of eternity in Heaven because of Christ’s death and resurrection. Paul ends his teaching on the resurrection of Jesus Christ by challenging us:

“With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” (I Cor. 15:58 The Message)

When life throws it’s worst at us, we can:

  1. Stand our ground – meditating on God’s truths
  2. Refuse to give in – choosing to live by fact, not feelings
  3. Continue on in the work God gives us – stepping out in faith and allowing Him to work in and through us.

Is God enough? YES!


The End of 2011

Colorful FireworksAs I write this post, I am sitting beside my younger children who are watching Paddington Bear. My husband and oldest child are at a New Year’s Eve party. On Facebook my cousin mentioned he is also home with the kids, one of whom is ill.

Parents often end up celebrating events in ways that would be unacceptable or at best, unexpected, to those with no children. As a parent I missed most of my nephew’s wedding reception because one of my sons soiled his pants and the nearest clean clothes were a half hour away. Last New Year’s Eve I spent a very quiet evening by myself because one of my sons needed to go to bed early. This New Year’s Eve I’m at home because several of my children are tired out after a week of fun with cousins who were visiting.

I tell my children that often we cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we respond. I choose to be thankful for opportunities to spend time with my young children, building memories that may never be able to be built in any other way. I choose to remember that my children are only young once. I choose to laugh and take pictures of my daughter with a pile of cat food on the living room floor (she was having a “snow ball fight with her brother”) before I help her clean up. I choose to put my hobbies and aspirations on the back burner, or at least delay them until my kids are in bed! Parenting is definitely a challenge, but the rewards are worth it!