Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pen to the Page: Motivation

http://www.stockfreeimages.com/

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted Pen to the Page. For those who may not know, PTP is about writing. Once in a while, I’ll throw a post your way, if not a few in a row, about something I’ve learned. What fun, and I love to talk about writing! So here we go… The next installment of Pen to the Page.
Why does a writer pick up the pen in the first place, then through it all, continue to dip it in the well? To pour their heart and soul into a story, or topic and then expose it for the world to see?
How does a new writer face the challenges of critiques, contests, queries, synopses (Wow, the list does go on, doesn’t it?)? When is she “ready” to enter a particular contest or query an agent?
It comes down to one word…motivation. A simple but powerful concept that drives any life.
First and foremost, the Lord is the center of my life and the focus of my writing. He’s called me to dip my quill and I will strive to perfect the art. (Not that I will ever achieve that goal.) My prayer is that all may know Christ, hence, my words contain His message.
Second, challenges are lessons. Some are tougher than others. Some make sense, some don’t. Not all are kind, not all are helpful. Then it happens. I meet them; the group of writers or partner who clicks. Rewrites, edits ensue. I’ve learned a whole new language that includes acronyms like POV, RUTE, HEA, FBP.
As far as being “ready”? I’m a little bit of a daredevil with contests. I entered the first draft of my very manuscript in ACFW’s Genesis contest. Hey, cut a girl some slack. I didn’t even have a clue what “head-hopping” was at the time. I give the judges a great deal of credit. They were very kind. Well, as much as they could be anyway. Even after the results, I have the same philosophy regarding contests. Enter as many as you can. Get the feedback, if they offer it. It’s a great way to learn.
Agents and publishers prefer clean samples and/or query letters. Clean it up, make it shine, and throw it out there. I’ve pitched my book to a couple of agents as well as publishers. Except for a couple of partner publishers, all I have are letters for the rejection pile but that’s okay. I’m on my way!

I once was told life’s a learning process. Live and learn. To try and fail is better than never trying at all. Success for me is a marked up score sheet, rejection letter or no reply at all. At least, I made the attempt and no one can take that away. In the end, I’ll keep the pen to the page. 
Why? To enlighten the world to the Truth through hope and faith.

What’s your motivation? Will it keep you going through slashing critiques, scathing evaluations, and inevitable rejection letters?
Yeah, I thought so. :)

In Christ,

Renee


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Guest: The Amazing Lily


Inspirational Moments is a beautiful topic for a blog, God at work, in real time, in real life. Anyone who breathes knows an inspirational moment. But, maybe we don’t always appreciate that moment. Scripture admonishes us to live in each moment, not worrying about tomorrow or other things we only think we control. It took my two golden retrievers to actually show me how that’s done. For ten years our ministry was therapy dog visitation. It was actually their ministry. I was the silent one on the other end of the leash, watching and learning how to offer friendship to strangers, comfort to the miserable, companionship to the lonely, peace to the addled. My dogs lived in the moment. I wrote an entire book about their experiences called Just for the Moment: The Remarkable Gift of the Therapy Dog. It’s a collection of moments when my dogs made a difference in other people’s lives. I learned to be a better Christian from their example, and I hope sharing their stories will help others. This is a short moment about forgiveness.
 When we first met Eddie, he had a lot of stories to tell. There was a picture of him and his fighter plane hanging on his room wall. It looked like a John Wayne poster. The young, handsome fighter pilot in his leather bomber jacket, posed by the wing of his plane, looked totally invincible. He most likely thought he was. There was another picture of him with General Douglas MacArthur. I figured he was close to my Dad’s age. That generation has some mighty stories to tell. But Eddie needed to get his told quickly.
Every week, Eddie was noticeably weaker. Before long Lily moved from his chair to his bedside. Within months, his stories got confused, with no beginning, or no end. He never knew who I was until he saw Lily. Then he knew “his dog” was there.
One morning, while we were visiting, his wife came. She was an attractive woman, fashionably dressed, stylish hair and expensive jewelry. What a handsome military couple they must have been. I imagined them waltzing around a ballroom in the Officers’ Club–happy, and in love. He’d been career military and was probably married in his uniform–I’d guess in the early 50’s.
She seemed agitated. Actually, she seemed angry. I told Lily to wave goodbye to Eddie and we’d come again next week. Eddie didn’t want us to leave. He wanted us to meet his wife and he wanted her to pet “his” dog. He always referred to Lily as “my dog.”
When we returned the following week, he asked if we liked his wife, and if we’d noticed his wife’s anger.
“Let me tell you a story, Lily,” he began. Lily laid her chin near the pillow and got ready to listen. I waited for her in a chair in the corner. As he petted her head, Eddie told her the story of a young flying ace, lots of medals, who was such a big fish in a small pond that when his fighting days were over and he had to become an ordinary fish in a fast moving stream, he found that he didn’t know how to swim.
“You know what I’m saying?” He checked in with Lily. To help himself fit in, he started doing things that he wasn’t proud of.
“Not an excuse, just a reason,” he said, wagging a finger at her nose.
Those behaviors became habits that were hard to break. After several years of trying to break free from the hell he’d created for himself, he fell into a deep depression. His wife and children were angry at him for wasting so many years of his life–and theirs.
“You understand that?” Lily blinked. In a drunken stupor, he fell down the basement stairs and did some serious damage to his brain and spine.
“That’s why I was at the spinal center for so many years. I had a lot of surgeries and a lot of rehab, in lots of places. But, now it’s over. I came here to die. I hope you liked my wife. She’s a really fine lady. She has a right to her anger…you know what I’m saying?” Lily nudged his chin.
Eddie was only here for about 18 months before he died. They held a memorial service for him at the facility. The unit clerk asked if we would come. Lily and I went. I gave my condolences to his wife, not expecting her to remember me from our one quick meeting, months ago. She told me she had asked the unit clerk to invite me because Eddie talked about me all the time.
I was surprised to hear that because he’d never spoken to me. He just talked to Lily–did she like to swim or play ball, if it was snowing outside, would she like a cracker–that kind of thing. I didn’t think he’d ever known my name. He was all about “his” dog.
“You were very special to Eddie. He told me over and over that when Lily looked into his eyes, she could see all the way to his soul. He told me that Lily could see his soul and that she forgave him. I admit I felt jealous. I wish it could have been me. But, I’m glad that someone could forgive him. It meant so much to him to feel forgiven. I just haven’t been able to do that. So… thank you, Lily.” She offered me her hand.
“Oh–I’m not Lily. This–is Lily. She was his therapy dog.”
The woman looked stricken and pale. “The dog? The dog forgave him? Lily–is a dog?” She sat down hard in the straight chair. Lily automatically laid her head in the widow’s lap, where tears dripped onto her golden head.
I’d never seen tears like these that came streaming down like a waterfall with no sobbing. Tears gushed forth from a deep, dark place where I suspect they’d pooled for a very long time. The woman took Lily’s head in her hands and looked into her amber eyes. Lily stared back, unblinking.
“Lily, you were a better friend to Eddie than I was a wife. Can you see into my soul, too, Lily? Can you forgive me, too? Please.”
Lily sat still as stone, dispensing her silent, nonjudgmental therapy. I knew Lily would stand there for as long as she was needed, helping the widow through this difficult moment. I took a seat in the corner and prayed that the widow might come to know the source of real forgiveness and peace.
Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever, wisdom and power are his. He changes lives and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in the darkness and light dwells with him. Daniel 2:20-22.  We must forgive each moment, lest it become too late.

About the Author:  Deanna Klingel


I was a child in a small town in the 50’s. It was a time when kids amused themselves with paper, scissors, magazines, paste, crayons, and books, while listening to the radio. That’s when I wrote and illustrated my first books, lacing the pages together with shoe strings. Writing wasn’t something I dreamed of doing “when I grow up;” it was something I was already doing. I wrote plays for my classmates, wrote for the school newspapers, yearbook, tons of letters of correspondence with relatives and pen pals. I recently found a yellowed poem I wrote for the Michigan State University newspaper. Don’t remember it, but there it is! After I had kids (7) I wrote puppet plays and stories for them, edited school newsletters, and projects, plays and news for Scouts and church. I wrote all the time. I made scrapbooks, diaries and kept journals. I hadn’t figured out that I was a writer, or an author. That didn’t happen until after the children were grown and I began writing travel books for grandchildren. Then one day it happened. I woke up and said, “I have a story in my head, and I think it wants to be a book. I guess I’ll try to write a book.” It’s been a great ride ever since.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Journey: One Step at a Time

Old Route 66 Highway by Renee Blare

The sun sets on another unproductive day. So many projects remain undone, ideas still scribbled on paper. Unaccomplished tasks grow while the list of completions dwindle. What am I doing? Why am I here? Where am I going? Lord, how do I do this?

Psalm 18:2 “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”


I started this writing journey with an incredible sense of adventure. The words flowed with ease. Not surprising really. I love to write. I’ve only been doing it since I could put a pen to the page. I even did it on the long summer hauls from Arkansas to Wyoming when I was a child. No, writing isn’t the problem, Lord. After all, You called me a long time ago.
So, why do I feel sunk in a quagmire of sticky goo? Figuratively speaking, of course. Is there a future for a writer without a past? To publish a novel with a slim resume? Where do I go from here, Lord?


Psalm 71:14 “But I will hope continually, And will praise You yet more and more.”


One foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

So…the journey will go on. I’ll keep learning, growing, writing…until one day, that stride will meet the goal.
And in case you’re wondering:

What am I doing? Living and writing for the Lord.
Why am I here? Serving the Lord.
Where am I going? To Heaven.
How do I do this? With the Lord.

As always in Christ,

Renee

Friday, May 10, 2013

Adventure in the Word


Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

The Bible is an intricate book of history. The Old Testament weaves a wondrous story laden with adventure, horror, tragedy, and incredible joy. We hold our breath as God reaches down and leads one after another out of the wilderness or cry as time after time, His people stray away. We gasp as warnings sound and prophecies unfold as if locked in a spell-bounding suspense novel. Then His deliverance fills the page once again and we turn the page for another adventure. Such is the Old Testament.
The New Testament is very similar. Another history book bursting with all the same excitement, it’s identical in theme except it has one remarkable new character. Jesus, God's One and Only Son. He fulfilled the prophecy of the Old Testament and this series of books is His story.
Just as God taught the Jews how to live in the Old Testament, He shows us how to live now through Scripture. Yes, Jesus became the living sacrifice and we’re no longer bound to the old ways but what does it mean to be a Christian?
Don’t know the answer? Don’t worry. The Holy Bible teaches all we need to know to live the Christian life. How to pray, comfort one another, or even forgive yourself lies within the Book. We can learn so much and take comfort in His presence for He is with us when we leaf through the pages.
When you read your Bible, what do you think? Are you reading a history book? Are you reading a moral lesson? Pray about it. Have patience. The Lord may just be trying to teach you something. Who knows, you may not even realize it until much further down the road. Either way, the Word is an adventure!
In Christ,
Renee 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Reflections




Do you know the person in the looking glass?


“Mirror, mirror on the wall?”

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

I’m one of those people who avoids mirrors. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ll take a glance for a second or two on the way by or use one to get ready for work in the morning but that’s about it. But what I see usually doesn’t impress me very much. Yes, it’s a battle, one I’ve waged for quite a while.
Well, actually, it’s resembles more of a war. Satan attacks on a regular basis. I advance then retreat, build up defenses only to have them blown apart. I hide in my little world and lick the wounds until I’m ready to fight again. All because of a pane of glass.
This human form has suffered quite a few trials through the years. The psychological impact of those challenges helped shape who I am today. They also left a few scars along the way. I’m not ashamed of those rough spots, just a little shy about them. Some hang-ups include a distaste for pictures (beware, I love to take them!), loathing for clothes-shopping, and a fear of thunderstorms.

Psalm 119:49-50 “Remember the word to Your servant, Upon which You have caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.”

Although, life hasn’t been a bed of roses, so to speak, it’s changed me. From a child of naiveté to a woman of obedience, the Lord led me through the trials to triumph. Now, I’m not saying it’s been easy. It hasn’t. Pain is never fun. Insecurity and fear is a horrible way to live, even for a fraction of an instant.  But the Lord above never failed, although I struggled to find my way back to Him upon occasion.
So, if the mirror cracks and the person staring back isn’t you anymore, don’t panic. Don’t cry. Have faith, the Lord will never fail. He is always with you.

Isaiah 58:11 “The LORD will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

In Christ,

Renee