Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from 1st Writes!  
We are thankful for you!

My personal focus for this Thanksgiving is 
Hebrews 12:28-29. My post, Offering up Thanksgiving
is over at The Write Soil.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why I Write by Carol Isbister

Paul O'Rear

Writing is a unique gift from God. Although it is not specifically mentioned as a definite gift, it can easily facilitate all of the listed gifts of the Spirit in a very special and personal way.  God's inspired word, the Bible, was given to us through the operation of the Holy Spirit, using the written word and the personalities of many authors over centuries.
There is a permanency to the written word which seems to defy time.  Once a thought is put on paper, it is there for the world to see and digest for generations.  Just as the Holy Spirit gave us revelation through the Bible, so also the Holy Spirit can illuminate the truths in God's word to our hearts.  Through writing, we can share the nuggets God has opened up to us and bless the body of Christ.
In my own life, I have felt the calling to minister to Christ's body through writing.  Many times thoughts and lesson outlines will "hit me" in some unusual places, and I realize these insights are meant to be shared with others.  I am constantly challenged to be a faithful and obedient writer in whatever avenues become available.  May His name ever be glorified through this precious gift. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

A Message to 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 1st Writes 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?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

An Enjoyable Stormy Night by Carol Isbister

Peter Cruikshank

One of the 1st Writes in class assignments was to write a story that begins like all of Snoopy's stories--"It was a dark and stormy night."

It was a dark and stormy night.  The rain pounded against the window panes tapping out a strange song for all to hear.  Inside the warm log cabin where we were staying, the fireplace crackled its warmth and flickered dancing shadows on the walls.  A feeling of peace and contentment pervaded our hearts, even as the wind howled like a lone wolf around the corners of the cabin.

We huddled together in colorful blankets and watched the fire dance in our faces. Without words, we united together as one, sharing this unique experience.  A sweet bonding took place and we felt gratitude for the storm outside and the protection and warmth within.  We had each other and were content as we laughed and teased each other playfully.

My granddaughter Rachael discovered an old deck of cards in a dark closet, and under the blankets, drinking hot cocoa, we played crazy eights, old maid, and fish until our eyelids began to droop.  What a fun time we had.  At last we had to crawl under the bed covers and get some much needed rest.  The sleep was sweet and we awoke refreshed.

The dark and stormy night was long forgotten as the sun smiled brightly and the birds sang us a special good morning.  The night was past and it was bright and happy day!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Scripture and Writing: Week 8


For those of you who can't join us in person, we offer the next best thing -- a blog version of our lesson, so that you can do it at home. This series is called: Scripture & Writing.

This week's lesson prepared by Dawn M. Hamsher


Prayer: Lord, help us to see the world around us as you would have us see it. Let us use the senses you gave us to record experiences and then share them with others. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Scripture Reading: Revelation 1:19 
Now write down everything you see: things that are, things about to be.


In context, Jesus is telling John to write down everything he sees in his spirit-visit. He is being given an assignment to write down prophecy. Out of context, the message is observe and record everything. 

1. Why would you want to observe and record everything as a writer? How can this help your writing?

2. Give examples of spiritual observations and secular ones.

3. Read these scriptures. Why is description important?
    Revelation 21:10-12, 1 Kings 7:2-3, Ezekiel 27:24
4What senses should be used when observing?
5. How could you incorporate observing and recording into your daily life?

Tips for Observing and Recording – for Writing:

1. Be Prepared – Take a notebook and pen with you wherever you go. You never know when you will see something you want to capture.

2. Sit and Focus – Find a place you can sit comfortably. Focus on the object or situation.

3. Use all your senses - What do you see and hear? Is there a smell*? What does it feel like (touch or emotions)?
*Smell can be a powerful sense that often gets overlooked in writing. See bottom of page for all the memories that came to me from smelling just one smell.

4. Record – Jot down notes quickly because the moment might pass and you want to get as much information as possible. Then add date, location, time of year, scenery, etc.

5. Reflect and Expand – When you have time, reflect on what you’ve observed and expand on it. Does it make you think of something from your past? Could you use it for a current piece of writing? If not, save it. Consider a filing system of observations that you could pull from at a later date.

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.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Why I Write - by Dawn

Pam gave us a writing prompt for homework. Here's my response:

"Why I Write"

I write because God made me creative. 
I’ve always been creative. I tried to write a book when I was ten, but it didn’t work out, so I stuck with drawing and painting, which I was good at. Later, I turned to crafts, cross-stitching, scrapbooking, and even designing my own board game. As an adult, I wrote and illustrated a few picture books, but never published. Several years later, I found 1st Writes, and now, I write to express myself.

I write because God gave me a gift.
Through 1st Writes, I learned that writing was a gift from God and that gifts are meant to be shared. Through words, I can share the hope and love that comes only through Christ. By writing, I honor and glorify God, connect with people, and I satisfy my own creative needs.

Prayer: Thank you God for making me creative. Help me to use my words in a way that is pleasing to you.  Amen.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Scripture and Writing: Week 7

For those of you who can't join us in person, we offer the next best thing -- a blog version of our lesson, so that you can do it at home. This series is called: Scripture & Writing.

This week's lesson prepared by Pam Williams

Devotion: “God, Gladys, and Marlene” by Pam Williams
Majoring in English did NOT make me want to write. Other than term papers, I wrote very little. In fact, college discouraged me, since my grade in the one required creative writing course did not help my GPA one bit.
So, why did I start writing? God nudged me to write while reading a series of books by Gladys Taber. She wrote about her home and her pets. Her down-to-earth writing style sparked ideas for my first stories. Like Tabor, I write to share my experiences.
Until I read Marlene Bagnull’s book, Write His Answer I never deemed writing a ministry. Bagnull helped me realize that it is as vital as preaching or teaching or serving the poor. I write as a way to serve God.
However, the real reason I write is that God called me to write. According to Ephesians 4: 7 and 12, God gives each person a special gift for building up the Church. Encouragement is my gift and writing is the tool God gave me. Mother Teresa described exactly how I feel about writing, “I am like a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”
Prayer: Lord God, help us, as we contemplate why we write, to see our gift as a tool you can use to minister to others. In Jesus name. Amen.
Scripture Reading: 1 John 2:12-14
“I write to you, my children, because your sins are forgiven for the sake of Christ. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who has existed from the beginning. I write to you, young people, because you have defeated the Evil One. I write to you, my children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who has existed from the beginning. I write to you, young people, because you are strong. The God’s word lives in you and you have defeated the Evil One.”
 Meditation Questions:
1.     On Joe Bunting’s blog, “The Write Practice”, Joe gives 4 reasons for writing:
a.     We write to be fully alive. Writing draws us in and helps us make art out of everyday moments.
b.     We write to make a name for ourselves that will live on.
c.      We write to change the world.
d.     We write to discover meaning and to help others find it.
2.     What are some of your reasons for writing?
3.     In our scripture, John lists his reasons for writing to this community. What are they?
4.     According to the following scriptures, why do we write?
  • Psalm 102:18 - so people not yet born will praise God
  • Habakkuk 2:2 - so God’s answers are readily available.
  • Luke 1:3-4 - so others will know the full truth about God
  • 1 John 1:3-4 - so others will enjoy fellowship with the Father and Jesus; for the pure joy of it
  • 1 John 2:1 - to help others avoid sin
  • 1 John 5:13 - so others may know that they have eternal life
  • Jude 1:3-4 - to encourage others in their faith journey
  • Matthew 28:19-20 (Great Commission) - to share God’s message of salvation through the written word; to uphold the truth
How many of us doubt our writing abilities or wave off suggestions that we publish our work? Prolific writer, Lee Roddy says: “If it is God’s will for us to write, then it’s logical that publication should eventually follow. After all, an unfinished manuscript cannot change lives. Even a finished one cannot minister in a drawer or filing cabinet. Only in published form can [our writing] go where you and I will never go, to people we will never meet. Only in published form can it make a difference in eternity.”
Homework: Write 100 words on why YOU write.