Monday, January 30, 2012

This Sums It Up

I saw this on Facebook last week and literally laughed out loud! Yes, yes, yes! These rules are so simple, yet so frequently broken that it’s really not a laughing matter. I’m very active in the world of blogging, and honestly, when I see poorly written material, I can’t get off that site fast enough. How unprofessional! If you’re going to write for publication—any type of publication—you should present not only your most thought-out material, but also your most correctly written work. A lack of grammatical correctness shows a lack of respect for the reader.

The peeves mentioned certainly are not the comprehensive guidelines of writing in the English (US) language, but I beg of you, please take note of those 10 rules. Learn them. Memorize them. Above all, put them into practice! To do otherwise renders communication ineffectual.

…Aim for perfection… 2 Corinthians 13:11

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Of Noble Character

I read a very good book the other day. The characters were so well developed that after I finished the book, I wondered what they were doing now. That’s quality writing!

My old college professor once reduced fiction to this: something happens to someone. He emphasized that the someone is the key to the story. It’s the someone about whom your reader cares. It’s the someone to whom your reader relates. It’s the someone feeling, affecting, becoming that your reader watches, feels for, worries about…and loves, or loves to hate.

Developing fictional characters requires dedication, especially if you write Christian fiction. You want not only to entertain, but also to make the reading worth the reader’s time. Have you created someone the reader would recognize if he bumped into him in real life? Have you made your hero someone your reader would be proud to know, or your villain someone the reader would be terrified to meet on the street?

Discipleship Tools tells us, “Character is a spiritual Fruit that is built from our real, godly relationship and commitment to Christ as LORD. It is the fiber of our moral center that stretches throughout our being, embracing and holding together our relationships when it is sealed as a choice and commitment, and not just a feeling or a personality.” Many character traits are discussed in Galatians 5:22-23, and dozens of others are found throughout the Bible. So when you’re creating someones for your readers to love (or loathe), keep these traits in mind:

  • Love will enable us to appreciate our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and, of course, our family, and others around us.
  • Joy will allow us to enjoy His creation, others, and our circumstances with an expression of delight and real, authentic happiness from and with harmony with God and others.
  • Peace is surrendering and yielding to the Lord’s control, for He is our ultimate peace!
  • Patience is showing tolerance and fortitude to others, and even accepting difficult situations from them and God without making demands and conditions.
  • Kindness is practicing benevolence and a loving attitude towards others.
  • Goodness displays integrity, honesty, and compassion to others, and allows us to do the right thing.
  • Faithfulness is the “gluing” fruit that will preserve our faith and the other characters of the Spirit as well as identify God's Will so we can be dependable and trusting to God and others.
  • Gentleness is the character that will show calmness, personal care, and tenderness in meeting the needs of others.
  • Self-Control will allow us to have discipline, and restraint with obedience to God and others. (via Discipleship Tools; more can be found here)

Believe it or not, villains often start out as noble characters and at a critical point in the plot either choose ignoble desires or have their true, evil intentions revealed. While the fruits of the Spirit and other biblical character qualities may not seem to apply to all someones, they are still useful for developing characters fully, even if it means looking to them to develop completely opposite traits. And remember, it’s not the something that’s so important in a story, as much as it is the someone to whom it happens.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

The M.O.M. Initiative

I have joined with some wonderful ladies in a great new ministry called The M.O.M. Initiative. I am really quite honored, and to be honest, humbled, to be included in such an amazing group of women who love the Lord so dearly and give of themselves so freely. 

We are officially launching the new website today and invite you to check it out. You will find many encouraging articles and helpful resources online, and a supplemental workbook is forthcoming. Learn more about The M.O.M. Initiative below, and let us know how we can serve you!

What’s The M.O.M. Initiative?

While many women dream of being the perfect mom who has all the right answers, never raises her voice and never has to count to three, we all know it’s not always easy being a mom. Those sweet little bundles of joy don’t come packaged with instruction manuals or warning labels and moms are often left to figure it out on their own.

The M.O.M. Initiative is an acrostic for Mothers On a Mission to Mentor Other Mothers. It exists as a group of moms and a package of resources to equip, enable and support women as they experience Titus 2 in real life. We want to help moms become the best moms they can possibly be.

The Website:

The M.O.M. Initiative website offers virtual encouragement for real life moms. The website exists as safe place to grow as a mother, to gain a better understanding of what a mother is and what a mother does and to foster and support mentor/mentee relationships.

Along with practical tips, helpful tools, godly wisdom and informative insight on current issues, The M.O.M. Initaitive website also offers a private chat room where a mom can connect with a ‘virtual’ mentor and find help in times of need. The website offers help for the mentor as well as the mentee.

The articles on The M.O.M. Initiative website are provided by a wonderful group of moms who are passionate about ministering to the hearts of mothers. Some are writers, speakers, counselors, nurses or experts in their fields, yet they all devote much time and effort to serving other mothers in whatever season of life they find themselves.

The Workbook:

The M.O.M. Initiative workbook is being developed to serve as a tool in the hands of Christian moms to help foster mentoring relationships beyond the four walls of the church and take Titus 2 to the streets. It will be an eight week study containing five lessons per week. Each day the mentee will be presented with biblical truths as well as mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and developmental needs of a child. She will also gain insight through thought provoking questions encouraging her to implement proactive mothering techniques.

The workbook will also provide a M.O.M. mentor guide and a missional planning guide in the back of the book.

Summed up, The M.O.M. Initiative is a missional mentoring package of resources that will give Christian mothers an easy, hands on approach to passionately pursue mentor relationships with younger mothers and mothers-to-be, and ultimately impact the next generation for Christ.

How Did The M.O.M. Initiative Get Started?

The M.O.M. Initiative was birthed from founder, Stephanie Shott’s own story. At the age of nineteen, she was a single mom. Without Christ and without a mentor, she made a series of serious choices that affected her precious young son. After becoming a Christian five years later she learned being a mom is much more than a three letter word and a handful of sacrifices. She also realize the significance of Titus 2:4-5.

What’s the Vision for The M.O.M. Initiative?

We believe that if the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world, then the church that mentors those hands will win it.

The primary vision for The M.O.M. Initiative is that it not only be limited to those who enter the four walls of the church, but that it also be used to facilitate mentor relationships in homes for unwed mothers, in low income housing projects, apartment complexes, homeless shelters, prisons, juvenile shelters, schools, hospitals, the mission field and anywhere young mothers can be found. (Planning guides for each of these venues will be available in the back of the book.)

We are mothers on a mission to mentor other mothers and we really want to change the world one mom at a time! Won’t you join us?!

The M.O.M. Initiative is not just a book. It’s not just a website. IT’S A REVOLUTION!

To join the revolution and become a M.O.M. Mentor, please click the link:

To learn more about The M.O.M. Initiative, you can visit our website at:

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Does That Make Sense?

In any language, whether spoken or written, there exists a structured syntax, a set of grammar rules to regulate sentence construction. Without such organization, language would be ineffectual, right? Random words gestured haphazardly make no sense.

Even made-up languages maintain structure. Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky of Through the Looking Glass is sheer nonsense. Or is it?

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

The poem’s theme may not be immediately evident, but it has rhythm and rhyme and structure and some sort of imagery of which main character Alice herself says, “Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don’t know exactly what they are!”

What about languages long since outdated and archaic? Take this piece of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales in Middle English, for example:

But ye that holden this tale a folye,
As of a fox, or of a cok and hen,
Taketh the moralitee, goode men.
For Seint Paul seith that al that written is,
To our doctrine it is y-write, y-wis.
Taketh the fruyt, and lat the chaf be stille.

Indeed a message can be discerned without the benefit of a translator. Well-written material with proper structure—grammar, syntax, punctuation, formatting—can leave quite an impact on the reader. It is effective communication that can leave quite an impression, even when the words are not completely understood.

So learn the language in which you write. Know its rules and know how to break them correctly. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, KJV), because “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33) and neither should you be.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it’s 2012? It’s common custom to assess life at the turn of a new year. We look back on where we’ve been and speculate what is to come. We plan, strategize, budget and organize. Of course, to certain degrees that is necessary. We need to have some direction, some goal for which to strive.

Writing is no exception. I have relinquished some responsibilities in order to take on some new assignments. I am hopeful in anticipation of the potential growth those new prospects will bring. To be honest, I’m filled with excitement about the things I’ve penciled onto my calendar.


Soothsayers predict the world will end this year. Are you gearing up for that? According to NASA, “The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012. Then these two fables were linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012—hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012.” (By the way, the Mayan calendar does not end. It merely rolls over to a new long-period cycle, just as our own calendar rolls over from December to January each year.) By scientific measures, it is highly unlikely any catastrophe is due Earth in 2012.


The Bible tells us we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Let me ask you again, are you gearing up for that? Of course, I am not advising you “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die!” But I’d like you to consider James 4:13-15: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’”

If it is the Lord’s will…

“You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath” (Psalm 39:5). A breath. A mist. A vapor. The very next verse describes man as a phantom in his finite brevity. Make your resolutions. Set those goals. But remember it is “not my will but thine,”  and make this ever your constant plea: Lord, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom,” (Psalm 90:12).

May 2012 bring you rich blessings as you live according to His will.

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This sums it up ;)

This sums it up ;)