Friday, December 28, 2012

My Prince of Peace

I've posted my Advent Devotion over at 1st Writes. (I know Advent is over for this year, but let it stay in your heart all year long.)

My Prince of Peace


For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (KJV)

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Christmas Box

I don't usually have time to read at Christmas (or do much of anything else) because I am so busy, but this year, I didn't direct our church's Christmas play, so I've had some time to focus on Christmas. I've gone to see some Christmas plays and I've been reading Christmas books.

One of them is "The Christmas Box" by Richard Paul Evans.What a sweet little book! I was immediately intrigued when the character found a wooden box that had a Nativity carved on the lid.

I recommend this book. It is a nice short read with a beautiful lesson.

The book also has inspired me to do a writing prompt.

Writing Prompt:
You find a beautiful wooden box in a dusty old attic. The lid has a Nativity carved in it. What's in it? who did it belong to? Write for 15 minutes.

Here is my response:

It was Christmas break and I visited Nan like I always did when I came home from college. As boredom overtook me, Nan suggested I go into the attic to see I could find something that I might like to have. It would be her Christmas gift to me. 

As I rummaged through the contents of my grandmother’s attic, I opened a hope chest and there underneath two handmade quilts was a wooden box. My hands felt a carving on top even before I saw it. When I pulled it into the light I saw an ornately carved Nativity scene on the top. The rich colored wood swirled into figures of Mary holding baby Jesus, Joseph watching her, two shepherds, animals, and an angel hovering above the stable. 

I sat for a long time in the quiet of the attic, touching each figure. The smooth wood was cool under my fingers. Finally, I opened the box. The lid pulled upwards easily, but I was disappointed to find that the box was empty. 

I sighed. It would have been cool to find something of value in there. As I sat holding the box, though, my thoughts turned deeper. It wasn’t yet Christmas and the emptiness of the box reminded me of the empty manger and how I should be anticipating Jesus’ birth. I smiled at that, but then a new thought hit me. The empty box seemed to represent the empty tomb. Suddenly everything from church and Sunday School made sense. The gravity of my faith hit me.

When the tears finally stopped, I wiped off them off with my sleeve, and hugged the box tight to my chest. I had found my Christmas gift.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Serenity Prayer

Did you know there is more to the 
Serenity Prayer than this?

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

The prayer continues with this...
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

What a blessing the WHOLE prayer is. 
How much more POWERFUL the prayer is in its entirety. 
I hope it blesses your day as much as it did mine!

(I found the entire prayer in the book "The Purpose of Christmas" by Rick Warren. The Serenity Prayer was written by Reinhold Niebuhr.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Stop Comment Spam!

I've been getting a lot of Comment Spam lately, so I looked up how to stop it. Here's a great article from Google - Hard Facts About Comment Spam.  

I decided to disallow Anonymous Comments as the first step. If that doesn't help, then I'll try some of the other suggestions (turning on Word Verification, though, will be my last resort!).

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Song Lyrics

My co-worker rushed to my side and said, "I just heard the most amazing song!" It was CeeLo Green's version of "Mary Did You Know". She had never heard the song before and the words had a profound impact.

Because of her declaration, I find myself listening closely to familiar Christmas songs, so that I fully grasp the message that God has through the lyrics. I believe God inspired many of the lovely Christmas songs and I don't want to take them for granted. I want to take the words into my heart.

What Christmas song is speaking to you and why?  

Here is CeeLo Green's version of "Mary Did You Know" [Official Audio]

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Offering up Thanksgiving

Today, for Thanksgiving, I am focusing on Hebrews 12:28-29
 (two different translations).


" Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,  
let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,  
for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Hebrews 12:28-29 (NIV)

I like to take walks on my lunch breaks at work. I often walk alone, which gives me time to pray and praise God. I sing (in my head) praise songs and I talk to God about what's on my heart. I am so thankful to have found Jesus. He helps me get through everything, from little things to big, and I know that I will have an eternity in heaven with him someday.

"Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. 
He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, 
and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!"
Hebrews 12:28-29 (The Message) 

I thank God for his active role in my life. He is constantly working on me to become more like Christ. I am constantly amazed and relieved when God gives me guidance through prayer and scripture for what I am to do in my life. I thank him for refining me, even when it is painful.

Is there a scripture of Thanksgiving that is speaking to you today? 


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Writing Prompt: Cup of Cocoa

How about a writing prompt? 
What can you write in five minutes?

cup of cocoa

Ready, set, go!

Photo by Toby Hamsher, 2012

Here's mine:

a cup of cocoa 
warms the body

a cold winter's day
doesn't seem so bleak

breathe in the steam
taste the chocolate

wipe the topping
off of your nose

and smile 

And yes, that's me in our local Christmas parade. Our church float's theme was 
"Cocoa warms your body, but Jesus came to warm your heart!"

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Message for Newbie Bloggers

Learning new things can be scary. Learning to blog, like anything else, has a learning curve. My best recommendation is to take is slow. Take baby steps. And know…You will NOT blow up the Internet if you click on the wrong thing. I have not heard of a single case where this happened, but if you become the first, please let me know. ;0)

Why am I posting about newbie bloggers? Well, last night my writing group hosted a class to help newbies get started. We had five wonderful ladies come, laptops in tow. We started off by asking them some questions. (Paraphrased answers below)

What do you already know about blogging?

  • It’s like journaling.
  • It is a form of publishing with a wide audience.
  • There are different blog themes (writing, cooking, mothering, etc.).

Why do you want to blog?
  • I want to be published.
  • I want to use blogging to organize myself (my photos, my mothering atedotes, my scrapbooking)
  • I want to share how God has worked in my life.
  • I want to minister to other grieving widows.

What do you want to learn how to do?
  • How to set up a blog?
  • How do I post?
  • How do I find photos for my blog? What about copyright?

Then, we walked them through setting up blogs through Blogger.
  • Go to Follow Blogger’s step-by-step instructions on how to create Google account and Blogger blog.
  • Choose your blog title and blog web address. What is your blog going to be about? Carol wanted hers to be about God. The address she wanted, “forhisglory”, was taken, so she choose a similar one, “hisgloryshines”, instead. Note: You can change your blog web address in the future, but it is best to do so soon because once you start getting followers, that complicates things. Also, if you are a writer, many sites suggest that you use your name as the Blog title and address (example I know some that do and some that don’t. It’s up to you.
  • Choose your template and layout. How do you want your blog to look? What background do you want? There are tons of pictures in Blogger to choose from. What font to you want? Tip: Use a white or cream background for your actual posts and use a dark font color (white with black font is always easy to read.). Do you want a sidebar (for followers, for search box, for photo of you, etc.)? 
  • Practice clicking on everything. Slowly. Find out what everything does. 
  • When you are somewhat happy with how things look, try doing a post. Give your post a title and then write your post. On right hand side is “Label” – this is also know as “tag” and it is used to give labels to your posts so search engines can help people find it. For example, if your post is about mountain biking trails, you might give it labels like: “mountain biking, bicycling, trails in Pennsylvania state parks”. You might also want to use “Schedule” – this allows you to set date and time for post to schedule. Click “Publish” to publish your post. Click “View” to see your published post.

We are going to have a follow up session for our newbie bloggers. What are some suggestions or tips that we could share with them?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Smelly Writing

Most writers don't Dawn doesn't use the sense of smell very much in their her writing. We Dawn forgets about it or puts it in the "too difficult" box. Smells can be very powerful. I realized this as I was working on my lesson for 1st Writes this week. Smells can trigger memories for you and your readers. You don't want to overuse the sense of smell in your writing, but you do want to use it to add a powerful punch where needed.

The following articles have some great "smelly" tips for your writing: 

Using smells and taste for powerful writing

Listen! Do you smell something?

Using the five senses in your writing

Using smell to improve your fiction

Here is an example of how one stinky smell transported me... (true story)

One Wonderful Smell by Dawn M. Hamsher

There was a smell. It was like rotten cheese mixed with garbage. I caught a whiff of it as I walked past an alley in downtown Charleston (S.C.), heading back to my college campus. I backed up so I could continue breathing it in. Memories flooded back from Italy, where I had lived in the fourth grade. 

Trying to eat hard Panini roll hamburgers. Adopting the stray Italian dog, only to find out he already had an Italian family. Laughing to see a goat wander into my friend’s house and then go up their stairs. Being chased by a cow. Living in hotels for months. Eating rum cake every night. Taking the ferry boat to school. Seeing the rocky coast line and scraggy cork trees. Snorkeling in the crystal clear water while watching out for sea urchins. Dipping ants in chocolate and eating them in the school yard. Learning what a Bidet was. Watching my mom carry all the American conveniences in her purse like toilet paper, ketchup, and salad dressing. Having to go to Spain to get my braces and headgear put on. Helping my dad develop photos in his darkroom. Riding in the Riley with its steering wheel on the wrong side. Buying leather and blown glass in the market. Playing Italian Monopoly with my dad every night after the power went off at seven o’clock.
All those memories --from one wonderful smell.

Friday, November 9, 2012


One of my favorite songs is "Home" by Phillip Phillips.

What does the song mean to you?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Writing Prompt: Superhero - UPDATED

Photo by Toby Hamsher, 2012

Here's a fun writing prompt inspired by my daughter's homemade costume for Halloween...

 If you could be a new superhero, who would you be? Give the character a name, powers, and goal in life.

My response:

When my daughter was eight, she created her own superhero named Goo Girl. She made a blue costume with mask and cape. She even wore it out in public. Her power was slinging goo at the enemies. Goo Girl still likes costumes and super heroes (as you can see). 

I've been thinking for days on this writing prompt. What superhero would I create? To me, the best heroes are in real life, everyday people who do little things that help others. So, here is my superhero:

Spirit Girl  - She is sensitive. Her unique intuition can spot people in distress with just one glance even if they show no outward signs. She is fearless. She has no problem approaching the person in need and engaging them in conversation. She is resourceful. Whatever the person needs, Spirit Girl can supply the need or get the person the appropriate help for her power is from the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What I Learned from Word Problems


As I read Moody Writing's post Words: The More the Muddier, I thought of my school days doing math word problems. (Ugh! How I hated them.)

Word problems do teach you a lot. You must read the problem carefully to determine the pertinent information needed to solve the problem. 

Hey, I can relate this to writing! Let's see...

What I Learned from Word Problems:
1. Only include important information. Unlike word problems that might add extra tidbits to confuse the reader, writers should forgo the filler!
2. Drop nuggets of information throughout your writing. Word problems don't just give you the answer, they make you figure it out. Readers like to "discover" things as they go.

3. At the end, the writing should add up. There should be no loose ends.

4. Problems are good. Every piece of writing needs some sort of conflict and resolution.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Contemplating A to Z Challenge April 2013

My writing buddy, Pam asked me last night, “So are you doing the A to Z Challenge next year?”

What! We’re supposed to think about that now? We have 5 more months!

In truth, I have been thinking about it, wondering what I am going to write about. I’m not stressing about it, but I’d love to find the perfect topic or theme. I’d like something original that no one else has done before, like Brianna’s Bible Bloggers series, but I’d like to stay within the boundaries of what my blog is already about (mostly writing stuff). For the past two years, I’ve done A to Z on writing tips (2012 was Writing Tips & Sticks Series).

So, here are my 2013 ideas so far:
   1. General Writing Tips
   2. Character Development Tips
   3. Attributes of a Writer (a funny look at our writing self)

Which appeals to you the most? Vote for which one you'd like me to do! (Leave in Comments Section) 

So, how about you? Are you doing A to Z in 2013? 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Writing Group Joy

I just have to give some shout outs to God!

Our writing group, 1st Writes, is just bursting with the holy spirit! Pam started the group three years ago and while its always been inspiring, this year is just amazing. The seats are full, the discussion is lively, and the writing is plentiful.  It is a joy to watch God move in our group.  I am so thankful to be a part of it!

In addition to our normal meetings, our group decided it will publish an Advent Devotion Booklet for our congregation. It will have 24 devotions focused on Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. 

We were a little nervous at first, wondering if some of us would have to write multiple devotions just to get enough. We worried for nothing. When word got out, writers from all over the church signed up, filling every slot! 

I can't wait to see how God will work during Advent as the whole church reads the daily devotions. Our church has never done anything like this, so it is very exciting. 

Prayer: God, thank you for being a part of our writing group and a part of the Advent Devotions. Please fill us with the holy spirit and help us write the words you want. Use this booklet for your glory and purpose. Amen. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mental Floss

I am not usually a magazine reader. I prefer books. I like a deeper commitment to my reading material. Now, my husband, on the other hand, loves magazines. He has a five minute attention span, so articles are perfect for him (I'm not slamming him, I'm just stating a fact).

But, I have a confession. I think I am hooked on one of his magazines. It’s called Mental Floss.

The first time he brought the magazine home, I thought, “A magazine of random, useless information. Yep, right up his alley!” Well, it is random and useless, but it is also interesting. For example, there was a riveting article on the making of Jaws, the movie, that I couldn't put down.

The articles are well-written and fun!

If you need to floss your brain, check this magazine out! You can also find interesting facts on their website, as well get a free trial issue.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Few of My Favorite Things

One of my new blog buddies, Melissa over at "On Bruised Knees", shared some of the things she loves. I thought I'd do the same. What a great way to start out the day.

Here are a few of my favorite things...

Photo by Toby Hamsher, 2011
Sunday afternoon naps in the back yard, Maximillion sunflowers, watching bees and butterflies, freshly tilled garden soil, visiting a friend, petting a bunny, hugging my daughter, praising my God, Pumpkin apple muffins, new haircut, dreaming of the day my book is published, my writing group (1st Writes), my awesome hubby who is the love of my life, sitting by the campfire, sleeping in the pop-up, hearing barred owls say, “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all”, waterfalls, hiking, bike rides with friends, hot tea and coffee, a good paying job, blessings.

What are a few of your favorite things?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Scripture & Writing Series: Week 2

Just posted our newest writing group lesson over at 1st Writes: Scripture & Writing Series: Week 2. This week's lesson looks at Jude 1:3 and the importance of the letter writing genre.  

Stop on over!