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Best Laid Plans

Conventional wisdom tells us that to be successful we should become adept at planning. Good planning helps us manage resources and minimize unexpected challenges.

But life doesn’t always work out as we planned.

We pour ourselves into a manuscript, but agents and editors are not interested.
We finally receive that coveted contract, but sales are less than stellar.
We struggle to balance marketing our current release while writing the next book.

Perhaps we can take a lesson from Abram. In Genesis 12:2-3, God promised to bless Abram, who subsequently grew wealthy. Even so, God’s promise of an heir had yet to be fulfilled, and Abram and his wife became too old to have children.

Like any good businessman, Abram offered God a plan. He could adopt an heir according to the practices of his day. God was not interested in this or any other suggestion. His promise would be fulfilled in His way. He revealed Himself to Abram by a new name – Adonai — the Lord.

Abram called God, Lord GOD. He understood that the Lord — Adonai — had the right to command him. Abram’s sole assignment was to take God at His word. Like Abram, we need to trust God’s plans for our lives…and for our writing. He is our Lord and He has the right to command us. Ours is the privilege to believe and obey Him. The only appropriate response is to yield to His lordship.

So we continue to use the gifts God gave us to write and speak. We share stories and lessons because, as writers, we cannot not share them. We plan and prepare. We market and write some more. But ultimately, Adonai calls us to trust Him for the timing and the results.


One day, the world will acknowledge God is Adonai and that the title “Lord” also belongs to God’s Son, Jesus. For now, we write our plans in pencil and carry a big eraser.

“Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established”
(Proverbs 16:3 ESV).

How are you planning your writing in a way that leaves room for Adonai’s sovereignty?

[Adapted from Ava Pennington’s devotional, Daily Reflections on the Names of God.]

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Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Precepts founder Kay Arthur. Additionally, Ava is co-author of Faith Basics for Kids,  including Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today? She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Power for Living, and Called.

In addition to her writing, Ava also teaches a weekly, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. She is a passionate speaker and teacher, and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit her at www.AvaWrites.com.

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Write Exciting Things for Kids

Some of you know that I’m a teacher as well as an author. I learn from my students and fellow teachers every single day, even—and sometimes especially—from those who are brand new to the profession.

What does teaching have in common with writing?

So. Many. Things.

ButtonsI was sitting with a new teacher who had inherited some classroom materials from her peers. Although she was grateful for each item and the generosity of the givers, I heard her sigh as she examined one thing. It was a counting chart.

She said, “Oh. I wish it was something a little more interesting to count.”

I looked around her classroom that was decked out with superheroes. I understood what she meant. Her job was to draw in and engage children, to get them excited.

And isn’t that our job as children’s authors?

After all, as Christian authors, we’re writing about the only true superhero, Jesus Christ. Our writing needs to reflect His power, glory, and amazing acts. Here are some ways to keep your writing perspective exciting for children and teens:

  • Surround yourself with God’s Word. Be true in your personal Bible study.
  • Immerse yourself in time with God. Pray.
  • Spend lots of time with your young-perspective readers. Interact with them in as many places as possible—home, church, school, and community activities.
  • Read what young people are reading. Ask children and teens what they’re reading. Ask why they like it.
  • Read new books. Look for new releases from Christian publishers and books that have won awards.

So there it is—our task as Christian authors for children and teens in a few words.

Write exciting things for children.

What exciting things will you write today? Tell us about them in the comments!

Carol McAdams Moore is the author of two devotionals for preteens.

Dare U 2 Open This Book Cover    Just Sayin' Cover

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Resources for Writing for Children

Children's Writer's Word BookIt is just a few more days until 2016. The New Year always brings a list of resolutions and goals. If you are reading this, writing for children or teens is likely on your list.

How do children’s writers know that they are successfully penning words that will resonate with young readers? Certainly they must connect with the tone and heart of the writing. There are also resources that can help the write get on the right track. Here are two things to consider when polishing your writing for children and teens.

I encourage you to invest in some books that will be ready resources for child-leveled word choices.

Books that Guide in Word Choice

  1. The Children’s Writer’s Word Book
  2. A children’s thesaurus
  3. A children’s dictionary

Very often, writers assume that they have an inside connection to what children and teens like. If that is based on contact with children in just one setting, the perception may be stilted. Consider getting to know young readers in a variety of settings and continue to seek new points of contact. The same child will have very different conversations and interests in different settings.

Time with the Readers Themselves

  1. Neighborhood
  2. Family
  3. School
  4. Church
  5. Social settings

What about you? What resources have you found helpful when writing for children and teens?

I pray many blessings on your writing in the New Year. It is an awesome privilege to Write2Ignite young readers.

Carol

Carol is the author of two preteen devotionals from Zonderkidz.

Dare U 2 Open This Book Cover    Just Sayin' Cover

 

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Gratitude for the Memories

Thanksgiving is tomorrow! It is a traditionally a time to gather with family and friends, a time to thank God for His provision. But at Thanksgiving, we sometimes get a little too focused on preparing and enjoying the feast.

How does God’s provision look?

For many readers, God’s provision looks like the Christian parents who worked to put food on the table, who strived to live Godly lives, and who taught their families about God’s Word.

Thanksgiving Memories

Of course, God provides for our physical needs – not only the feast that we will prepare and enjoy this week, but also the daily bread that is in our grocery baskets and on our tables. He provides good health, physical safety, and sweet rest from our work. He promises to be with us when those things seem to be at risk or even missing. Above all, He promises eternal life to His believers. We are, indeed, a blessed people.

God’s provision surely spills over into our words as authors.

How does God’s provision look to you?

I wish you and your loved ones a very blessed Thanksgiving and a time to reflect on the many ways He has blessed you.

Carol

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2015 Selah Award winner, Carol McAdams Moore, writes for children and youth in the general and Christian markets. Her debut tween devos Dare U 2 Open This Book – draw it, write it, dare 2 live it – 90 devotions and Just Sayin’ – write ‘em, draw ‘em, hide ‘em in your heart – 90 devotions released in September 2014.

Visit Carol’s blog.

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Inspired by God’s Creation

MiloDriving along the great Mississippi River to see the fall leaves has always been a tradition in our family. Visiting the zoo and being amazed at the animals, often tickled by their behaviors . . . another tradition. Of course, walking along sandy beaches collecting shells is also high on our vacation list.

When we get home, our loyal little dog, Milo, is always waiting for us.

Our family has many traditions, and many of them start with being surrounded by God’s awesome creation (and going home to it in the cute form of our pet). I can’t help but pause to worship the Creator. I can’t help but think of His power over the universe and in our lives.

God’s creation is an incredible place to start with our readers, too! Who isn’t drawn into the presence of His majesty as they read? Who isn’t inspired by the Creator?

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2015 Selah Award winner, Carol McAdams Moore, writes for children and youth in the general and Christian markets. Her debut tween devos Dare U 2 Open This Book – draw it, write it, dare 2 live it – 90 devotions and Just Sayin’ – write ‘em, draw ‘em, hide ‘em in your heart – 90 devotions released in September 2014. You can visit Carol’s blog here.

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Different Routes, Same Destination

I’ve been thinking about routes. One of the most helpful tools I have is a GPS. Helpful, because if there’s a way to get lost, I’ll find it. So I’m dependent on that quiet but firm voice that says, “In fifty yards, turn right.”

When I program my GPS for a long trip, it often gives me options. I can avoid toll roads, but the trip may take longer. I can choose the shortest route, but it may cost more. I can travel by freeway or select a scenic route. Different routes, same destination.

Our lives also take different routes. You may be single or married, have a large family or no children at all. You may be talented musically or tone deaf. Perhaps you’re a multi-published author. Maybe you’re not published at all.

So what happens when you struggle for a favorable response to your first manuscript, while a fellow writers’ group member announces a contract for his eighth book? What do you do when your son is struggling with addiction problems and your co-worker’s daughter just received a full scholarship to an Ivy League school? How do you respond when your husband is laid off and your brother-in-law is promoted to vice president?Detour traffic signWe can compare ourselves to others and bemoan the unfairness of it all. Or we can realize that our Sovereign God is leading us, step-by-step, along our own path. We can complain about what we do not have or we can be good stewards of the gifts and resources God has given us.

Still, it can be difficult to focus on our lives as we watch others achieve successes we wish were our own. But it’s dangerous to compare ourselves to others and question why their journey is not our journey. Even the apostle Peter learned this lesson when he looked at John and asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” (John 21:21 NIV). Jesus answered, If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22).

Follow Jesus. Follow Him in your writing. Follow Him in your marriage. Follow Him as you lead your family. Follow Him in your relationships. Be a good steward of the gifts He has given you, follow Him, and leave the results to Him, regardless of what He is doing with the next writer…or any other person. When you do, He will get all the glory. And ultimately, isn’t that the destination we all want to reach with our writing?

How do you handle the urge to compare yourself with others?

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Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Precepts founder Kay Arthur. Additionally, Ava is co-author of Faith Basics for Kids. The first two books in the series are Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today? She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Power for Living, and Called.

In addition to her writing, Ava also teaches a weekly, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. She is a passionate speaker and teacher, and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit her at www.AvaWrites.com.

 

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Could Your Writing Save a Life?

Could Your Writing Save a Life

Angry men bent on death. She broke the law, and she must die. The scene has been repeated in Pakistan, Indonesia, and the eighth chapter of John. What Jesus wrote and said in John 8 saved a woman’s life. Could he use our writing to do the same?

In countries around the world, Christians break the law by sharing the hope of Jesus with someone trying to live without him. Two years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Darcie Gill, who serves with The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM). VOM is a non-profit, inter-denominational Christian organization founded in 1967 by Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor who spent many years imprisoned for his faith.

Reaching Our Audience

According to their website, www.persecution.com, VOM assists persecuted Christians by encouraging them, providing them with the tools they need for evangelism, providing for families whose loved ones have been imprisoned or killed, and delivering aid. They also bring the Church together by sharing stories of persecution and perseverance.

Darcie has what she calls the “neatest job in the world.” She meets with Christians in hostile nations. Then, she brings their stories back to the free church, being the “person uniting both.”

Is there a way we can be writers who unite both? How do we connect a story about a mother in a foreign place to a soccer mom in suburban America?

The first step is realizing our persecuted brothers and sisters are just like us. They must choose every day to grow to become more like Christ, just as we must. We all face the same issues, such as forgiveness.

Darcie shared the story of a widow in Colombia. The woman’s husband had pastored for a few years in a guerilla-held area before he was killed. VOM helped her and her two-year old daughter with basic needs and employment. When they asked the woman what her future plans were, she answered that “she wanted to go back and share the Gospel with those who had taken her husband.” She realized she “could give them something even her husband couldn’t give. She could forgive them. This woman realized the greatest gift she could give was forgiveness. And it would open an opportunity for the Gospel with them.”

Reaching Our Brothers and Sisters

Darcie also shared about the ministry of Prisoner Alert, a way individuals can become involved in the life of an imprisoned Christian. Prisoner Alert provides all you need to write and send a letter to a brother or sister in jail.

But I asked her if writing a letter can really make a difference. She quickly answered, “My goodness, yes,” and told me the story of an imprisoned pastor who had been beaten so brutally he faced kidney problems. Christians responded with thousands of letters. The guards stopped beating him and got him medical help.

What about times the prison officials don’t deliver the letters? Someone still reads them, and God uses them to change hearts.

Ways to Reach Out

Writers are by nature, storytellers. We share stories with everyone who will listen. We need to hear the stories of the persecuted Church and share them with the audiences God has blessed us with. Here are ten ways to do it:

  1. Blog about it.
  2. Share the stories through social networking.
  3. Write an insert for a church bulletin.
  4. Write a Sunday School handout.
  5. Write a play/skit/drama.
  6. When you write letters to friends and family updating them on your family, slip in an encouraging story you have read about a Christian brother or sister.
  7. Write a letter—or letters—through Prisoner Alert to persecuted Christians suffering for their faith.
  8. Write letters to national and international government officials—Prisoner Alert supplies the information you need.
  9. Introduce a character into your story who has experienced or witnessed some of the persecution you have read about.
  10. Incorporate what you learn into your poetry readings and writing exercises. 

Reaching Our World

As we read the stories of our brothers and sisters who are suffering, we take to heart the command in Hebrews to remember the persecuted. As we share their stories with our readers, we may see hearts changed. What Jesus wrote and said changed an angry crowd ready to stone a woman into men who put down the stones and walked away. His words saved a life. My prayer is that God will use ours to do the same.

For more information on Voice of the Martyrs, Prisoner Alert, or requesting a speaker to address your church or writing group, please visit www.persecution.com.

Bonnie-Rose-Hudson-200x200Bonnie Rose Hudson lives in central Pennsylvania. Along with spending time with her family and writing, making kids smile is her favorite thing to do. Her heart’s desire is for every child to feel the love of God and know how special they are to Him. She loves creating curriculum and working for SchoolhouseTeachers.com, the curriculum arm of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, as the site’s executive editor. At TOS, she found a place where her love of God and history combine with her love of writing to bring encouraging, educational, and entertaining material to students and their families. She would love for you to visit WriteBonnieRose.com to discover how you can write for the homeschool market.