Memorial Day: Let’s Not Forget!

In honor of Memorial Day, I wore this red, white, and blue necklace. My sister Shelly made it for Mom, wife of a WWII vet. Among Mom’s belongings when she died, the necklace might not have seemed important, but to me it symbolized her love for our country.

Growing up in her house, I learned to be proud of our country, love its flag, and honor those who served and fought for our freedom. Even today, the moment our national anthem  starts, I can’t help but stand — at home alone or in a crowd — to sing along with my hand over my heart. A heart that almost bursts with pride for our United States of America — our land of the free and home of the brave..

So many memories spring to life on Memorial Day!

  • Family who sacrificed to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces — Dad and Jim’s dad (WWII, Army), Uncle Lee (WWII, Marines) Uncles Hank and Ed (Korean Conflict, Army) brother-in-law Larry (Vietnam, Army), and my son Rick (Navy).
  • Involvement in the American Legion Post in Kaukauna. Dad served a year as Commander, Mom as leader of the Legion Auxillary, and I as leader of the Junior Legion Auxillary.
  • Memorial Day meant Dad leaving early to blow TAPS at each cemetery as flags were placed on the graves of deceased vets. Later when the parade paused on the Lawe Street Bridge and the memorial wreath was cast into the Fox River, he played TAPS again. A solemn and beautiful moment in time.
  • One year I served as a poppy princess. Another year, as a teen, read “In Flanders Field” to the townspeople who gathered on the lawn of the VFW Hall for formal speeches.
  • The many years that my husband Jim and I took time to honor our country and its vets. Most times we joined the crowd outside the Social Services building, and every time the U.S. flag passed by, we’d place our hands over our hearts and stand at attention.

What fond memories spring to life for you on Memorial Day?

 

 

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10 Benefits Awaiting Writers’ Conference First-Timers

You think you might like to write? You’re consumed with a burning idea but no clue how to take it from writing to publication? Maybe you’re sure you don’t write well enough yet.

Don’t let that stop you! Go ahead and attend a Christian writers’ conference. The benefits are astronomical. Here are just a few.

You will:

  1. Jumpstart your writing dream (You know you have one, right?)
  2. Be inspired by fantastic motivational speakers
  3. Learn from professionals how to write and get published
  4. Meet editors, publishers, and agents face-to-face. Find out what they’re looking for and discover that these brothers and sisters in Christ really want you to succeed.
  5. Receive valuable feedback about your writing skills through manuscript evaluations—maybe even an invitation to submit it for publication or suggestions regarding where to submit
  6. Make enthusiastic new friends who will validate your passion to write
  7. Begin to discover your niche as a writer and God’s plan for your coming year of writing.
  8. Spend a few days in Christian writer’s heaven on earth where people are kind, helpful, encouraging—and fun!
  9. Go home believing you can make your dream come true because you’re no longer alone. God and your new writer friends have your back.
  10. Look forward to next year’s conference to reconnect with your new writer friends, learn more, progress more, and enjoy another few days in writer’s heaven.

Don’t miss out! Sign up for a Christian Writers’conference today!

Here are a few I can personally vouch for:

Or check the Christian Writers Market Guide under “Christian Writers Conferences & Workshops” for other options near you!

Experienced conference goers, please help us out here: What favorite writers conference would you recommend to newbies considering first time attendance? And why?

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sending flowers to you all as we celebrate this Mother’s Day.

Actually, with my phone, I captured  these gorgeous tulips that grow in front of my deck each Spring. Trudging back from my shed on Thursday, I looked up and there they were.

A surprise bouquet from the Lord.

So … I had to share them with you all.

From the Lord and me …

Happy Mother’s Day!

Talk about Joy and Blessing!

Writers’ retreats are one of the highlights of the writing life. Talk about joy and blessing!

Last week ten of us bubbled over as we arrived at Green Lake Conference Center’s Christian Writing Center. Yup, that’s it. An eight-bedroom, half-timbered English mansion overlooking … ah …  you guessed it … Green Lake. (The windows under the two gables on the far right of the second floor mark the location of my room. The large window to the left on the first floor belongs to the great room. More about that later.)

After lots of hugs plus helping each other unload our cars and get settled in our rooms, we enjoyed a Sunday supper of homemade veggie soup, ham & Swiss and Reuben stuffed breads hot from the oven, cold apple salad, and delicious caramel cheesecake one husband made for our enjoyment. Not a good start for our diets, but most excellent, and we didn’t waste a bite!

We put out jigsaw puzzles, colored pencils & coloring sheets, and games. One of our favorites is “Pilgrim’s Progress.” These along with long walks outdoors in the beautiful sunshine and a fire pit by the lake in late afternoon gave us plenty of activity when taking breaks from writing.

Oh, and we can’t forget the impromptu birthday party for the 82-year-old among us. Cake, ice cream, cards, and more laughter.

But …

We all agreed that the best part of each day came in the evening when we gathered by the fireplace in the great room. Debra accompanied us with her Q-chord as we sang to the Lord. His precious presence was so near and dear. And every night He gifted each of us with personal blessings and encouragement as we prayed and were prayed over.

Then, of course, we read manuscripts and shared stories. We couldn’t help but laugh as Kathi read from her father’s memoirs of growing up during the Great Depression. She’s editing and polishing them for publication. Her dad sure had an eye for hilarious goings-on in his small, northern Wisconsin community.

(By the way, the photo above is a view of Green Lake taken by Debra from the lakeside grounds of the house.)

The Lord blessed us one last time as we departed on Friday morning. We had all packed up before the pouring rain began, and each made it home safely before the big April blizzard hit over the weekend.

YOUR TURN TO SHARE! What special event to you look forward to experiencing each year with family or friends?

 

“I Like a Challenge!”

I don’t recall the disagreement, but I’d had enough. “I’m not staying where I’m not wanted!” I shouted at my new husband.

In a flurry of anger, I set out in the dead of winter, marching down Algoma Blvd toward the college campus. It was Sunday … I was pregnant … and I had no clue where I was going.

Though a student at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh, I suddenly recalled the campus was all but shut down for the weekend. My family had moved out of state two weeks after Jim and I married. But wait … the Neuman Center would be open. Yup. That’s where I’d go. Never back to that man!

But I didn’t know my husband.

A few blocks later, a car pulled over, and the passenger window rolled down. “Hey, lady,” a guy inside said, “ya wanna ride?”

Who did he think he was fooling? I knew that voice. And that car. I stuck my nose in the air and marched on.

The car pulled away. A block later, it was back with a repeat performance. I gave Jim a repeat performance of my own. Though I’ll admit I was disappointed when he and the car disappeared again. And didn’t return.

Well, I’m probably better off without him. Though I wish … oh, what difference did it make what I wished. I’d had two chances and blew them.

Now nearing the campus, I approached a corner with neatly trimmed bushes edging the property. Out popped Jim with welcoming arms and a big grin.

I collapsed into laughter, and he took my hand. “Let’s go home, Beauty.”

If you’re thinking Jim had his hands full with me, you’re right. Down through the years, my faithful husband had other occasions to rescue the day with humor.

Oh, and in case you’re tempted to feel sorry for him, don’t bother. I once told him I felt sorry for him. He was indignant. “I like a challenge!” he insisted.

All right then, sweetheart.

PLEASE SHARE: Do you have a humorous story to tell on yourself?

Don’t Quit!

Only a month after our wedding, Jim and I faced each other in the living room of our tiny apartment. Sadly, we admitted we’d made the biggest mistake of our lives.

How could it be, when we had started out loving each other so very much?

I swallowed hard and looked to my strong, handsome husband. “What do we do now?”

He thought for a moment, and then quietly delivered his conviction. “We stick it out.”

God must have been proud of us for making our momentous decision. I know, years later, we remained glad we did. Yes, we faced struggles and disagreements through our 47 years of marriage, but we also enjoyed the rewards of choosing to love. Of learning to be patient, kind, and forgiving–no small fete! Of growing deeper in love while wrestling with every challenge that came our way.

Our family also grew–two sons, five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild who are very dear to us. We experienced the love and fun and kindness of extended family on both sides. What a rich, full life we would’ve forfeited if we had decided to quit, rather than “stick it out.”

God says, “Love never fails.” ~ I Corinthians 13:8 (The Holy Bible, New International Version, Zondervan Publishing House, 1984). Meaning, love chooses not to end.

Your Turn: Please share your own particular circumstances where you’ve been glad you chose not to quit.

Guest Blog: Why Do I Write?

Writing is a difficult yet rewarding experience. Readers sometimes ask, “Why do you write?” Writers often ask themselves that very same question!

Here is an inspiring word from poet and author Lois A. Wiederhoeft on that subject. Whether you are a writer or reader, I hope it touches your heart as it did mine:

Job 19:23: Oh, that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! (KJV)

As I searched the Bible for the word “write,” I saw many reasons why God assigned old testament prophets to write on a scroll or in a book. His reasons were mostly warnings to the people of Israel. Some were harsh.

You may ask, “How could God give such tough writing assignments? I thought He was a God of Love.”

He is a God of love, but He hates sin, and his people were deep into sin, worshiping false gods or idols. They were going into extreme moral depravity and behavior. Because He still loved them, He warned of judgement if they did not return to Him.

He did the same thing in the New Testament. It gets kind of rough when Jesus called the religious leaders, “white washed sepulchers.” Paul and Peter rebuked people in the book of Acts for their rejection of God’s commandments, and wanting God’s gifts for the wrong reasons.

So what does that have to do with my writing? He told Jeremiah, in Chapter 30, verse 2, “Thus speaketh the LORD God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book.” (KJV)

If Luke had not written two letters to Theophilus. We would not have the books of Luke and Acts. We never would learn how Jesus started His church if the apostles had not followed His directions. I thank God for His faithful prophets and apostles writing for our instruction and about God’s expectations for our lives.

One blessing about writing: people don’t assume what you’re saying and no one interrupts.

My life as a single person gives me more solitude time which writers need. I have uninterrupted time with the Heavenly Author as He inspires me, mostly in poems. They focus on the Lord, His ways, His Truth, His life, and His compassion for the sinner as recorded in the Holy Bible..

Why do I write?

  • I would be miserable if I could not write what God lays on my heart.
  • I write because I have something to say for the Lord.
  • I write because there is a secret fire burning inside of me. I must share my thoughts with someone else.
  • I write because I realize that I might die next week, or tomorrow, or five minutes from now, and I want to leave something behind for posterity.
  • I write because, along with God, nothing else will fill that emptiness. I want to find a way to connect with someone, anyone who might understand.
  • I write because no other person who came before me or who will come after me will be able to write in quite the same way that I was meant to write.

    I began writing poems soon after I was married, for birthdays of nephews, siblings and my mother. I wrote anniversary poems for my grandparents. But there was a vacancy in my soul, that led me to write as a seeker of the Lord. I wanted to know Him better. I wanted others to know Him. Through the years, I found out I will never know everything about Him, but His Word tells me to seek Him with all my heart, and I found Him. When I found the Pearl of Great Price, He commissioned me to share His truth, obey His truth, and walk in His truth.
    I can now do that in poems, devotions, essays, songs, and by stretching my abilities to writing an assigned Bible study, now in the editing process.