I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God
so that you may know that you have eternal life. [1 John 5:13]

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Praising God Through Poetry

Yesterday was a remarkable day! Five of us rode up toward Orange, VA for a Christian Writer's conference. We so enjoyed each other's company and really enjoyed meeting so many spirit-filled, intelligent and inspiring Christians!

Two of us were presenters and the other three had the joy of attending various other workshops. We were also blessed with both a children's choir and a men's choir, testimonies, prayer and praise throughout the day. Not to mention a delicious meal after the conference!

Laurie at Supernatural Living lead a session entitled, "From Your Ideas toward God's Goals" that focused on spiritual principles and practical steps to advance your writing for the Lord.

My session was entitled, "Praising God Through Poetry." I focused on ways poets and aspiring poets might share their gift in new and creative ways along with some practical tips and a few words of encouragement.

The other three women enjoyed various sessions that they felt blessed them and spoke to them right where they are. That is so like God!

I also received confirmation of some things I have been praying about in terms of my ministry and its direction and focus. At Crayon Chronicles I've written a three part series, "God's Ready, Set, Go!" This morning I'm moving from "set" to Go!" Much more prayer is needed, but I believe I'm on track with God's plans.

We were exhausted by the time we left for home, but all agreed we were filled to the brim with God's love and blessings! A blessed day all around.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

3rd Installment: Gadgets and Blogging Tips

If you scroll down about 1/2 on my blog, you'll find two long, framed lists of my Divinely Designed blog and Crayon Chronicles blog contents.

These are widget boxes and if you would like to make one for your blog just click on the Get Widget tab at the bottom of either of the boxes.

When you click, you'll be taken directly to the site, widgetbox.com you can make your own customized widget! No programming or technical knowledge required! You can select the colors and how the posts are displayed in your widget box.

You can move your widget box anywhere on your sidebar as you can with any other gadget.

Check it out and happy blogging!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

If Only I Had

If only I had

believed the promise of eternal life in heaven
celebrated the joy of being sure of what I hope for
savored the calm of being certain of what I do not see
experienced the peace of resting in God
accepted the gift of amazing grace

I would have

spent less time stressing about daily life
expended less energy on striving after wordly goals
worried less about things I could not control
been less anxious about what the future held
stopped desiring things I did not need

If only I had

trusted the unconditional love of God
known the Savior as both human and divine
studied the living, active truth of scripture
embraced the power of the Holy Spirit
pursued the mercy extended to sinners

I could have

loved others with reckless abandon
understood how I could be forgiven
savored the inspired word of God
soared like an eagle on the wind
let go of guilt over things I never meant to do

If only I had

(c) 2009 - Mary Moss

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More Gadgets and Blogging News

An easy and "low-tech" way to add gadgets to your blog: see what gadgets other bloggers have installed on their blogs. Often the application will have a message that says "Get this gadget" or "Get this Code."

Speaking of which . . . If you look on my sidebar, you'll see a map of the world with red dots on it. This is very easy to install.

**Click on "Click to get FEEDJit" at the bottom of the map.
When you get to the page that says FEEDJIT in large green letters, scroll down until you see this:

You can also Choose a FREE widget based on your Blog Host

You'll see this heading: Blog Host or Platform

at the bottom of the column that says:

Javascript Widgets

click on
Get a JS Widget!

It is self-explanatory from there - really! Try it! You'll like it!

Just copy the code and paste in into the HTML gadget on your sidebar.

Speaking of low tech . . . to keep the name of your blog "out there" on the web, always include the name of the blog (not the url) as a label. That will help the search engines keep your blog name indexed. (That's a good thing:-)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gadgets and Stats and Blogging, Oh My!

Far from being an expert at any of the "high-techie" aspects of blogging, I do pick up some tricks of the trade along the way. If I see something that I think is interesting and/or could be helpful in my desire to "spread the news" about my blog posts, I try to figure it out, look for tutorials on-line, or just plain ask the person with the fuction I would like to have how to do it.

I haven't had anyone tell me to figure it out on my own! Quite the contrary! I have found without exception that bloggers are very helpful and supportive of each other. So I am going to act in kind and share the few tips I've learned in an effort to pay it forward -- or backward -- or whatever:-)

*I installed a gadget called a Stat Counter on each of my blogs. It measures how many visitors I have at each blog on a daily, weekly, monthly basis and since I began the blog. I didn't do this because I wanted to feel good (or not so good as the case may be:-) about myself. I am, of course, interested in knowing how many people I'm reachng, but I had another reason:

*****I am going to track over time which blogs have the highest traffic on certain days. In other words, so far one of my blogs had almost double the normal number of hits on both Saturday and Monday. I'm going to track the pattern for a few weeks on a the blogs.
*****Once I determine the heaviest days in terms of visitors, I'm going to post some "teaser" posts or begin a series on one of the heavier traffic days. Then I'll announce that the next installment will be published on XXX, one of the less busy days. My hope is that this will bring visitors back to the blog more often.

*I also recently installed a Share This button. Each time I make a new post I click on this button and a window opens to allow me to share my post (post a link) at several (many) social networking sites including, myspace.com, facebook.com, twitter and others. That means that every time I post something, a host of people will receive notice of it and I don't have to email people or manualy post a link on all these sites.

I have been offering my services locally to help other Christian writers set up their blogs, help them with functionality, etc. As I stated, I am far, far from an expert! But I have more than a basic understanding and am more than willing to help others. We're all in this together!

Watch for the lightbulb in future posts! These will be the posts where I share the "cool stuff" I've discovered. If there is a function or a feature you would like me to look into, leave me a comment. I'm game to try to figure it out!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Write When The Spirit Says "Write"

I called my parents this afternoon to wish them "Happy Easter" and to check in with them. My dad commented that he had been keeping up with all my writing pretty well, but lately was finding I was just so prolific, he couldn't keep up with it all!

Yes, I have been quite busy and feeling as if I must write while the spirit inspires me to write. I have had times in my life - days, weeks and even months where I didn't feel like writing. I could write, I just didn't want to - I wasn't "feeling it" to use a slang expression. Like everything in life, there is a season and a time for my writing.

During the winter months I tend to hibernate. I read and hunker down to some extent. Once the days become a bit longer, the weather a little warmer and I actually see the sun I begin to feel that old energy coming back. I imagine if I were to write 24/7 and 365 days a year it wouldn't be as pleasurable for me. I enjoy writing when I'm in the mood, because I don't always have the opportunity or the inclination.

Those who consider themselves "writers" can't imagine life without writing. Perhaps they merely work a crossword puzzle or read a magazine daily. Perhaps they jot down a limerick or short poem; maybe they even pound out a short story or an article on a topic of interest. Just about every activity in a writer's life is either research for their writing or actual writing!

The trick for Christian writers is to (1) accept that we are called by God to write; (2) hear God correctly and clearly about what it is we are to write; (3) constantly give the glory to God for any "success" we may have; (4) don't write for the saved but for the lost; (5) write from our brokenness and not from our wholeness; (6) embrace and encourage other Christian writers.

These are challenging guidelines, I realize! I may wish I were a poet, but if God didn't gift me with the ability to create a lyrical, rhyming series of words to paint a picture in someone's mind or heart, then I just better focus on the writing that I excel in. If I don't excel, I had better get myself up to speed - take a grammar course, take a journaling course or a course in creative writing.

When we realize we are called, ordained really, to write for God, then we must figure out if we are to write novels, articles, poetry, short stories, fiction, non-fiction -- you get it. Once we achieve some success, once our writing is published and we begin to make a name for ourselves, give the glory to God. He's the one who placed the call in our hearts, remember.

The saved don't need to taught about the saving power of Christ. They already know it. Sure, we can all use more information, participate in bible studies and book groups, study various versions and translations of the bible to deepen and broaden our understanding of God's word. Everyone needs uplifting and encouragement. But the ones who need to hear or read what we write most of all are the ones who haven't heard it yet! Or the ones who have heard it in the past, but need to hear it in a new way in order to understand your message.

I have trouble with Christians who spend a lot of time and energy telling me how wonderful they are now that they have been saved. If we're not careful the focus of this kind of writing isn't on Christ but on oneself. Yes, our lives are better when we give them over to our Savior. Yes, we are all thankful for our blessings, and we are right to declare our thankfulness, as long as we make Jesus the reason for our gratitude. It can be easy to turn our Good News into preaching, though.

Rather we should talk about how broken and sin-filled we were before we came to know Christ! Yes, we're still broken and sin-filled, but much less so. The improvement in our lives is due to the healing power of Jesus, not of our own doing. Let's tell those who are lost, broken, afraid and alone that Jesus loves them and He will heal their hearts. Remind them that God loves them so much he created them for a unique and divine purpose on this earth.

Even if we don't agree with or particularly care for other Christian writers, we must encourage and uplift them. The Word of God needs to be shared with this world. If we don't offer our prayers and our encouragement to each other, we all work harder against the power of the evil one to counter our God-given, Spirit-whispered message of the healing blood of Jesus.

Christian writers are a special breed. We stand apart from other writers because we write for Christ and His kingdom. We live in the world but are to avoid being "of it." We see how others live and are tasked with offering a better way, both by our example and our writing.

Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. (Isaiah 30:8 NIV)

"This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you. (Jeremiah 30:2)

[ The LORD's Answer ] Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it (Habakkuk 2:2 NIV)

I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. (1 John 2:12 NIV)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Definitions of Some Literary Terms

I found these definitions at Guide To Literary Agents Editors Blog and thought they might be of interest.

Family Saga:
A story that chronicles the lives of a family or a number of related or interconnected families over a period of time.

Hook: Aspect of the work that sets it apart from others and draws in the reader/viewer.

Mass Market Paperbacks: Softcover books, usually 4x7, on a popular subject directed at a general audience and sold in groceries, drugstores and bookstores.

Subagent: An agent handling certain subsidiary rights, usually working in conjunction with the agent who handled the book rights.

Leftover copies of an out-of-print or slow-selling book purchased from the publisher at a reduced rate. Depending on the contract, a reduced royalty or no royalty is paid to the author on remaindered books.

TOC: Table of contents. A listing at the beginning fo a book indicating chapter titles and their corresponding page numbers. It can also include brief chapter descriptions.

To see a comprehensive list posted on their blog, click here.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Are You Experiencing Writers Block or a Writing Slump?

I told a dear friend this afternoon, "I'm back!" I've been in a slump for a while. I haven't exactly had writer's block - I knew what to write, I had ideas. I just didn't "feel" like writing. It wasn't fun for me. That's serious for a writer! Writing is, after all, not only what we do, but it defines who we are!

I thought I would share suggestions that may help you get through your slump:

*Check over long-term and short-term writing goals
-have they changed?
-do they need to change?
-are the original time frames still appropriate?
-do you even have any? If not, why not make some!

*Jot down ideas for future articles
-key phrases or ideas that you don't want to forget go in your journal or notebook for later

*Blog posts and articles can be started and saved in draft form. There is nothing more unpleasant as a writer than to have an idea and begin to put it down either on paper or the computer and feel as if the words are literally being pulled out of you. when it's just too hard for the words to flow - let it go! Save what you have done and go back to it.

*Get caught up on reading other blogs, industry journals or that novel that's been crying out to you to be read for months.

*Watch a few good movies you've been wanting to see.

*Spend time with your family.

*Get caught up on your sleep.

*Know that it will pass. You'll get your groove back, so don't stress about it!

*Write anyway, even if its hard. Just write something--anything--every day.

*Pray. Read your bible. Take long walks and take in the magnificance of nature.

[ A Time for Everything ] There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Who Made The Wind?

The wind howls, blowing away any vestiges of doubt or denial about whose I am.

The ½ moon hovers silently overhead.

Church bell wind chimes call forth my praise for the God who made the wind.

Clacking of the still bare tree branches urge me, “onward, onward; waste no time.”

Whirring of the wind generator reminds me of the continuity of the life—spinning on andon even through the winds of change.

God asks, “Who made the wind?”

The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. (Ecclesiastes 1:6 NIV)

for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters, when he made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm, (Job 28:24-26)

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, (Exodus 14:1 NIV)

The Bible - A Writer's Friend and Refuge

It's been quite a week! I am making the transition from working part-time to full-time and I keep reminding myself it's okay to be worn out. My mind keeps racing - new job . . . current job . . . writing . . . how is all this going to fit into my big plan?

Tonight I am home alone and thought about calling several of my friends, whiling away the evening blogging and visiting other blogs, maybe take a hot bath and relax. I revisited each option a couple of times -- even, sadly, considered just eating until I couldn't see straight. That old Satan loves to sneak up on us when we're vulnerable! Good thing I decided to just go get my favorite bible, my Bible Reader's Companion and my journal.

I opened to Isaiah - one of my all time favorite books. I think I've always liked it because I love the language and the almost hypnotic way the reader is lured and lulled into feeling comforted and soothed, loved and cared about. As I read beginning in Chapter 40, I realized I was very familiar with the "forties chapters." These the chapters were God offers the most reassurance and comfort. This is where we learn of the coming Messiah. This is where we realize even when we have felt abandoned and alone, we were not at all!

These chapters refer to John the Baptist, to Christ. These chapters link God's power and His love; His transendence and deep desire for intimacy with his creations. These are the chapters where God declares himself sovereign.

So I now feel both affirmed and uplifted. I think I'm going to vegetate, watch some television and start brainstorming article ideas. Some have been rattling around in my head, but I haven't bothered to write them down.

I am a writer! God is going to make a way for me to write! I just need to turn to Him, to give over the hours of my day and the days of my life to Him. He will direct them and guide them. He will lead me where I am to go and He will show me the way I am to accomplish His vision for my life.

I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. (PsaLm 3:6 NIV)

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13 NIV)

Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. (Psalm 31:3 NIV)

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground. (Psalm 143:10 NIV)