Writing Without Fear of the Red Pen

The Fear of the Red Pen

Writing is a joy for some, but a terror to others.

What makes one person enjoy the process while others are terrified by it?

Some would-be authors find themselves constrained by the how-to’s, structural rules and regulations bought upon by well-meaning teachers who choose to use the red pen more than they ought.

It’s not that the red pen isn’t necessary, it’s just that grammar and punctuation isn’t all that writing is.

Put the fear of the red pen away and enjoy the writing process.
Put the fear of the red pen away and enjoy the writing process.

Writing is the thought, the intent, the emotion, the mental anguish, the imagination unleashed.

When used too early, the red pen is perceived as an attack against the soul.

It is what is feared, that somehow one is incapable of expressing themselves properly. The red pen is sometimes received as an acknowledgement of the fear of failure that resides within ourselves.

So, put aside the red pen until later.

Expressions should be allowed in the first stages of the writing process.

Plotting, outlining, summarizing, etc., these terms can be scary to someone who just wants the freedom to write.

So, in the beginning stages why not just write.

Let your thoughts flow.

Allow yourself to make mistakes, but get your expressions out. You might find some great ideas in those lines you have penned or typed.

Next take those ideas and expound on them.

Visualize your characters, know their hardships and fears, know them intimately.

Surround those characters with settings that magnify their problems or at least don’t interfere with the progression of the story.

Make the setting fit the story line.

Accidents on curvy mountain roads, falls from rocky cliffs, heart attacks on hiking trails, broken hearts in movie theaters, loneliness at the school dance…

Insert lively characters that fit the setting.

We expect cowboys in Texas or Australia, businessmen in suits on Wall Street, bankers in Switzerland, skiers in Colorado or the Alps, fishermen off Nova Scotia. We know and are familiar with housewives in suburbia, school teachers in rural areas, and farmers on the Midwestern plains.

Writing, authoring, scribbling, or whatever you may call it, is just expressing your imagination on paper.

Let your imagination run wild. Sci-fi, fantasy, romance.  You can pretend to be anywhere at any time.

Today, yesterday, or tomorrow…There is no limitation to time on the written pages of your mind.

Share your thoughts, share your dreams, share your fears. Hide behind your pseudonym, your pen name, your ghost writer, or whoever.

Your words become forces that confront the reality of existence.

Keep the story moving forward.

You are an author. Your words may not be written down in a best-selling novel, but they are your words in action. Just be sure your words do not kill your onward progression to what lies ahead. Make them positive words that encourage, instill, and infuse joy, excitement, and contentment.

Make your words lively to the reader. Keep them searching for the next word on the next trail of pages. The red pen can come later.


Do you find yourself fearing the red pen?

Don’t be afraid to have your writing critiqued. Share it with several people who will honestly respond to what you have written. Consider their comments.

Remember that you are the author. You can choose to accept or reject their recommendations. But if you are wise, you will learn from the critiquing experience and your writing will improve.

Proofreading for grammar and punctuation is in the last stages of the writing process. That’s when you can appreciate the red pen.

What are your fears in the writing process?
What is keeping you from becoming the next best-selling author?

ABC’s of Finalizing Your School Year

Finishing Your School Year Successfully

The time comes when the school year must end and the next begin.

Whether you school on a nine-month, year-round, or quarterly schedule, there are items that all administrators must do to finalize the school year.

If you are winding up your home school year, may these ABC’s of Finalizing Your School Year guide you to a successful finish.

ABC's to Finishing Your School Year

ABC’s to a Successful Finish

 

A — Assess your school year. Note your children’s accomplishments. Accept what you did not accomplish and adjust plans for the following year accordingly.

B — Brainstorm ideas for the following year.

Broaden your vision by attending homeschooling conferences, teacher’s conferences, writer’s conferences, and support group workshops.

C —Clarify your goals for each child for the next year.

Create new folders for each and make comments to remind yourself of why you chose those goals. Those goals can be changed later, but your comments will help you as you plan for the next year.

D — Dedicate a small portion of each day during your school break to plan for the next year so that you will not be overwhelmed as the new year draws closer. This time should be devoted to research curricula, gather needed materials, make plans for field trips, and develop lesson plans.

E — Enjoy your school break by exploring the environment with your children. Engage in meaningful activities that will peak children’s curiosities and enrich their learning experiences.

F — Finalize and fax or mail required forms with your state’s Department of Non-public Instruction. Keep your own file copies of these forms for future reference.

G — Gift graduates.

If your own child is graduating, host a great graduation reception.

H — Have a holiday and relax. Take some much-needed time for yourself.

I — Invest in storage containers for children’s assignments that you wish to keep.

J — Join online homeschooling groups/blogs to stay encouraged.

K — Keep a journal of summer activities

L — Lobby legislators during your break from teaching. Let them know of any concerns you have concerning home school legislation.

M — Make final reports of grades for the year.

Even if you do not issue official report cards, your children still need to have that feeling of having passed to the next level. Give a report card, certificate, or statement of completion for the school year.

N — Notify family members and acquaintances of school year accomplishments, graduation dates, or other pertinent information you wish to share.

Nominate your children for scholarships to academic camps that may be of benefit to them.

O — Own up to any failures during the past year. Make a commitment to yourself to avoid those failures next year.

P — Persevere to the end. Prevent burnout but stay productive.

Praise progress and promise something special when all lessons have been completed. Follow through with that promise.

Q — Quiz your children. Develop a questionnaire that allows your children to critique their school year. Make it simple. There are no right or wrong answers. Let your children be honest with you.

What did they like most about the school year?

What was their favorite lesson/project?

What did they find most difficult?

What would they change if they could?

Ask a variety of simple questions. Use the answers to critique your teaching style versus their learning styles. You may be surprised at their answers. What may have been most difficult for you may have been most enjoyable for them.

R — Revise your schedule. Don’t just fill in lessons to fill up time.

If your children are through with lessons for the year in a certain subject, then utilize that time for completing your records, putting away unnecessary resources, and finishing other end of year projects.

Check registration due dates for graduates furthering their education through college or vocational schools.

S — Smile a lot. Don’t allow yourself to get stressed out with end of year tests or to start rushing through lessons to get done by a designated date. If your projected end date needs to be adjusted, do so.

Don’t let pressures ruin your testimony before your children. Be as excited about ending as you are about beginning. Success is not measured merely by pages completed.

T — Transcripts should be completed. This is an important record of each student’s accomplishments especially during the high school years.

U — Unexpected interruptions seem to be more frequent during this time of year. Plan your response before they happen.

Some interruptions may be valuable opportunities, but weigh each carefully before you change your schedule. Are they worth extending your school year?

V — Vary your teaching style. As subjects taper off, use the extra time to add variety to the rest of your lesson plans.

W — Welcome the school/summer break with a well-deserved end-of-year party.

X — Exalt your children for jobs well-done. Recognize achievements and victories from the school year. It is okay to give your child a certificate of completion, a certificate of victory over some difficulty they experienced, or a certificate of accomplishment such as learning cursive.

Y — Yesterday is gone. It is in the yearbook of life. Don’t beat yourself up over it, but learn from it. What do you wish to do better next year? Write it in a simple statement and place it on the first page of next year’s school planner.

Z — Zip up the pencil cases and notebooks and enjoy time away from the kitchen table.

Zoom to the zoo. Zoom to the beach or to any other of your favorite getaways.


I hope these ABC’s for finalizing your school year have been helpful.
What other activities are necessary to finalize your school year?
Does your family have a special end of year activity?

 

Purpose in Life

 Purpose Gives Life Meaning

Abandoned Fawn Finds a New Friend Photo
An abandoned fawn finds a much-needed friend.

 

 

Life is short.

Not that anyone notices.

However, a quick trip through any graveyard will reveal the various ages when people die.

Young or old, death is no respecter of persons.

My family realized this when my five-year-old daughter’s best friend died in a freak accident.

Yes, even five-year-olds die.

I realized it as a young person when several friends of mine died needlessly.

I also realized it as an adult when my father died in his fifties. Since then I have realized it when my grandmothers and grandfather died. (My other grandfather died before I was born.)

Since life is so short, of what should it consist?

What makes life truly worth living?

And if life has any value, what value should we give it?

Purpose gives meaning to life.

It is our purpose on this earth that gives us value.  A man or woman without purpose has little life for which to live.

What is it that gives us the desire to live?

Waterwheels remain to remind us of days gone by when their purpose was to turn gears for machinery.
Waterwheels remain to remind us of days gone by when their purpose was to turn gears for machinery.

I remember my father’s words.

My father had said that he would never have heart surgery again. This was before all the modern advances that reduced the surgical procedure’s invasiveness.

However, the time came when he spoke of heart surgery again. I told him I thought he would never have surgery again.

He replied, “When it comes to dying, a man will do anything to live.”

Those words stuck in my mind.

People tell me they wouldn’t want to be in such and such a condition and would want to die instead.

It is then that I remember the words of my father and realize that people do not know what they will desire until they face death themselves. It is then that life takes on added meaning.

Once upon a time this building owner's purpose was to entertain people. The building itself now needs a renewed purpose.
Once upon a time this building owner’s purpose was to entertain people. The building itself now needs a renewed purpose.

The desire to live gives purpose to life.

It is the desire to live that gives new purpose to life even though the focus changes when we must face death ourselves.

Then the time has come to heal old wounds, make the apologies we should have made long ago, tell our loved ones how much we love them, and reach out to others with the compassion we never had before.

Yes, life has value down to the end of our last breath.

Every word has purpose.

Even our last words have purpose. They set a pattern for the future of our families.

Our last words can leave our loved ones with a blessing or a curse.

Jacob blessed his children before he climbed back into bed and gave up the ghost (Genesis 49).

David blessed Solomon and gave him wise counsel that directed the future of the kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 2).

Jesus blessed the disciple John and gave him the responsibility of caring for Jesus’ earthly mother (John 19:26-27).

Our lives affect the future.

Our lives affect the future of others.

Soldiers are willing to die on the battlefield because they want their families to have a future.

The men at the Alamo gave their lives so Texas would one day be free from Mexican rule.

Shammah stood in the middle of a bean patch and fought against the enemy so his people would have food (2 Samuel 23:11-12).

Jesus gave His life on a cross so that all people could have a future and a hope. His last words as recorded in Luke 24:46-49 gave his disciples understanding and future direction for their lives.

Markers are placed to remember a grave even though the name of the remains may have been long forgotten.
Markers are placed to remember a grave even though the name of the remains may have been long forgotten.

Our life’s purpose gives meaning to life.

Whether we understand our value or not, others need us to fulfill our purpose.

Fulfilling our purpose will give meaning to our lives.

An orphaned opossum is cared for by a concerned caregiver.
An orphaned opossum is cared for by a concerned caregiver.

Copyright 2017 by authorpeggyclark.com


 

 

 

Mother Seeking Proverbs 31 Woman

The Proverbs 31 Woman

A Mother’s Lesson Plan

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” Proverbs 31:10

King Lemuel’s mother gave her son valuable lessons concerning the pitfalls into which any son can fall prey.  She was highly concerned that he be guided properly, so she bore this role personally.

A virtuous woman is a source of strength for her husband.
A virtuous woman is a source of strength for her husband.

 Two important areas she discussed in her lesson plans were women and strong drink.

This mother knew that if her son did not conduct himself properly in these two areas, his authority over his kingdom would be damaged and his judgment thwarted.

To protect his future kingship, she wisely advised him:

“Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.

It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink.” Proverbs 31:3-4

Her plans included two important words.

The list of attributes describing the virtuous woman that this mother desired for her son may seem challenging to today’s woman but are basically contained in two words which this mother used to teach an important lesson to her son.

The first is ‘ruby’ and the second is ‘heart’.

Lemuel’s mother wanted to instill in Lemuel the value of a good woman. To do this, she placed the image of a ruby in his mind.

As a man in training for kingship, young Lemuel would be taught the value of gems and their use in commerce.

Precious stones were given by visiting royalty as presents unto kings. Lemuel had to be able to distinguish quality between the various stones presented.

Why did this mother choose the ruby to educate her son in these matters?
What qualities does a ruby possess that would describe a virtuous woman?

Large transparent rubies are rarer than diamonds. Thus, the value of a natural, transparent ruby is more than that of a diamond.

Obviously, this mother realized that a virtuous woman would be someone for whom Lemuel would have to diligently seek. A virtuous woman was not a common commodity.

The more transparent a ruby is the greater the value. Although all rubies have some flaws, the less imperfections a ruby has, the more it is desired.

When a woman is transparent, she has nothing to hide. She allows her husband to see her as she is. She does not try to put a veil over his eyes as to her character.

A ruby can be heat treated to remove some internal flaws.

Trials and afflictions are the fires that God uses to purify man. A virtuous woman can endure those trials and afflictions and remain true.

It takes an expert to distinguish between a natural and a man-made ruby.

God is the expert that can discern a woman’s heart and her motives. A wise man will seek God’s will when contemplating courtship. His eyes cannot see into a woman’s heart, but God’s eyes can.

“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.

She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:11-12

The second word that King Lemuel’s mother focused upon was heart.

Men consider trust a major factor in describing a healthy marriage.

If a man feels he cannot confide in his wife, if he feels she has betrayed his confidences, he will stop entrusting her with his words. This may lead him to seek spoil or an unscriptural relationship with another.

Many marriages end because another woman chose to listen to a married man’s words and keep them in confidence, thus drawing the man away from his wife.

The advice that King Lemuel’s mother gave was directed in such a way that King Lemuel would be able to understand the consequences of unwise choices.  She turned his focus upon his own heart and how it would be affected by those choices.

The choice that he would make as to a wife would do him good or do him evil all the days of his life.

He could choose that which was more valuable than rubies in which he could safely invest his heart and profit, or he could choose that which was of less value and loose his investment and suffer loss.

"A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband." Proverbs 12:4
“A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.” Proverbs 12:4

“Who can find a virtuous woman?”

She is described as transparent and trustworthy.

She reflects what is inside of her, the character of Christ. She is a haven for her husband and keeps his words close to herself.

Her motives are pure, showing her intent to protect her husband’s heart.  Therefore, she is given the liberty to accomplish all that the Proverbs 31 woman had liberty to accomplish.

The virtuous Proverbs 31 woman could involve herself in such activities as described in Proverbs 31:13-24 because she could be trusted to do those things without bringing shame to her husband or her household.

The Proverbs 31 woman was portrayed, not by her performance, but by the transparency of her true nature.

King Lemuel was taught to ask himself two important questions as he sought for a wife.

Does this woman’s transparency or lack thereof reveal Christlike character or a flawed character?
Does this woman’s transparency or lack thereof reveal a trustworthy heart or a questionable one?

King Lemuel’s adopted course of action hopefully brought him a Proverbs 31 woman that he safely trusted in all his days.

©2016 authorpeggyclark.com


Join in the conversation. Leave your comment below.
  • The Proverbs 31 woman is usually described by what she does.
  • Do you define the Proverbs 31 woman by her performance?
  • If measuring performance, how do you measure up?
  • According to Proverbs 31:30, what woman is to be praised?
  • Did the Proverbs 31 woman’s performance define her relationship with God or did her relationship with God define her performance?
  • How does your above answer correspond with Ephesians 2:8-10?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Potter’s ‘Brand’

Every Potter’s Work Is Unique

I met a new potter this weekend while taking pictures at an event I attended. Since I love pottery, we struck up a conversation and “friended” each other. Her work was beautiful, especially the various mugs and trays that she had on display.

Although there are several potters who work in my area, each potter’s work is unique.

Potters brand their pieces with special markings.
Potters brand their pieces with special markings.

Every Potter Eventually Establishes a ‘Brand’

Not only are their individual items uniquely made, but the colors used and patterns applied are unique to each potter.

You might say they each have their ‘brand’.  That brand is established by their unique styles.

That style is brought out by hands that carefully mold and form from the potter’s viewpoint and vision.

Sometimes the clay wishes to cooperate with the potter. Sometimes it does not. The potter patiently places the clay back on the wheel until finally the clay submits to the potter’s wishes.

Potters use a variety of colors and markings.
Potters use a variety of colors and markings.

The Potter Knows the Potential of the Clay

It’s not that the potter doesn’t consider the clay’s texture or color or strength. The potter knows those things. But the potter also knows what the clay can become when it yields itself to his or her touch.

The potter has the end piece in view.

He or she sees it in all its beautiful form as finished and sitting on a customer’s table. He or she knows its usefulness and the blessing it will be as it pours out its contents to those who sit at the table.

Different sizes of pitchers for a variety of uses.
Potters make pitchers in a variety of sizes for different uses.

Our Master in Heaven Is

the Great Potter

It’s the same way with our Master in Heaven. He is the Great Potter who forms us and molds us to be the vessels that will bless those for whom we are poured out in service for Him.

Our Great Potter knows our frame, but He sees what we can be. He sees us as what we will be in His kingdom.

He is the author and finisher of our faith. One day our faith will end in sight.

One day soon we will see our Great Potter face to face. May He say of us in that day, “Well done!”

Copyright©2017 by Peggy Clark

Photos © by Peggy Clark

Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome, available from WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan. Check out her blog at https://sowhatsthelatestnews.info.

 

Create a Magazine – Make It a Family Affair

Enrich your homeschool by creating a magazine that reflects your family’s interests.

Learn about writing, editing, and publishing.

Children have different talents and gifts. Why not utilize those talents and gifts by making a family magazine?
This may seem like an overwhelming task, but it needn’t be. Just follow a few basic steps and your magazine will become a pleasurable accomplishment.

Discuss the different parts of a magazine.

Take some time letting your children leaf through various magazines taking notice of what they find interesting. (If you do not have access to interesting magazines through family and friends, then plan a trip to your local library. A large selection is available for viewing and for checkout. It would be advantageous to have your first lessons completed there.)

Then continue by pointing out pages with specific purposes. Included in these should be the copyright page, contents pages, editorial pages, features pages, product pages, etc. Any discussion should also include the type of and purpose for advertising articles and advertising posts.

Children will probably notice that some magazines appeal to a wide variety of readers (mass magazines) and some appeal only to a select few (class magazines).

Discuss the job descriptions of those who are responsible for each step in the process of development.

From editors, illustrators, reporters, printers, to photographers, the list of people who do the work of producing a magazine is varied.

Responsibilities involve layout, design, news departments, sports departments, editorials, photos, images, production, marketing, etc. It truly takes a team to produce a successful magazine.

Discuss the idea of producing a family magazine.

Discuss the idea of producing your own magazine. This could be a family magazine or group magazine. Get the children excited about producing their own work.

If you feel your family is too small to do this, engage the assistance of other homeschooling families or your local homeschool support group.

Let Your Magazine Reflect Your Family's Interests
Let Your Magazine Reflect Your Family’s Interests

Enjoy the process.

Don’t let the process bog down your family. If you decide to just do a few pages within a single week or if you make it a year long process by collecting material accomplished during the year, the important thing is to give children the knowledge of and opportunity in developing their individual gifts and talents. Make it an adventure they will remember as they continue their educational goals.

Set guidelines and give job descriptions.

Some children love to write stories, but others love to tell them. Some like to draw or doodle while others have fun painting or crafting.

Some like to tell riddles and read comic strips, while others would rather grab the camera and catch family members in fun.

Some children like the outdoors (so what critters are in the area?) and others like hanging out with Mom in the kitchen (so what’s their favorite recipe?).

Some like to play sports (so how do you play that game?) while others seem to know all the sports statistics (batting averages, anyone?).

Some are great at playing musical instruments, but others like to listen to the radio, know all the top hits, and can tell you where their favorite artists will be next week.

Utilize those individual characteristics to make a magazine that will reflect the children’s talents, interests, and gifts and not just your own.

Yes, specific guidelines and deadlines should be set, but let the children do the work as much as possible.

Make the Publishing Process a Learning Experience
Items to Consider in Publishing Your Family Magazine

Let each child do what they find interesting.

Some will enjoy writing about their topics of interests. Some will hate writing altogether, but may love doing the illustrations or creating graphs for a sibling’s articles.

As much as possible, let each child do what they find interesting. This may take some insight on your part.

And when it comes to publishing the material, everyone will probably want to know how to use the copy machine. Even if you must do this at a local printer, ask the manager if your children can watch the process.

Enjoy creating your magazine and just think about all the areas of publishing to which your family has been exposed.

And if you decide to let the children ‘sell’ the magazine to family and friends, you may discover that you have a successful entrepreneur under your wings.

 

Devotional: Empty Vessels Have Potential

The Potential of an Empty Vessel

An Empty Vessel Can Collect Dust

What is the potential in having a lot of empty vessels?

A case of canning jars sitting on the back porch collecting dust may not seem to be of much value to a passerby.

Dusty canning jars waiting to be used.
Dusty jars waiting to be used.

An Empty Vessel Has Potential

However, a person with knowledge and insight can see past the emptiness of the jars to the potential they hold.

Yes, those empty jars may have little value. But once they are filled with green beans or tomatoes or pickles, suddenly they have great value.

An Empty Vessel Can Be Filled

Those once empty jars now have the potential to feed starving souls.  They have the potential to sustain and maintain others’ needs. They can also be reused again and again.

Empty jars waiting to be filled.
Empty vessels waiting to be filled.

An Empty Vessel Can Be Limited

Are we like those empty vessels sitting on the porch collecting dust?

Have we limited our potential by remaining empty?

An Empty Vessel Can Be Used to Bless Others

“[B]ut be filled with the Spirit.”  Ephesians 5:18

As we allow ourselves to be filled with the Spirit of Christ, we overflow into the lives of others.

Our fullness sustains others with our encouraging thoughts, words, and prayers. Our fullness flows into the lives of others as we share our blessings. Those blessings meet others’ needs as well as our own.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35

Empty vessels need to be filled.
Empty vessels need to be filled.

As the contents of a jar is replaced with another substance (invisible air is replaced with visible blessing), so our ‘self’ is replaced by the fullness of Christ.

“that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:19

Filled Vessels Can Serve Christ to Others

As Christ lives in the vessels He fills, Christ is served to others.

Others enjoy our fullness in Christ and receive added blessing.  Their vessels receive hope and are filled with potential. Their souls can then receive the valuableness of having Christ, the only One who can truly give sustenance and meaning to life.

The jar is valued by its contents. Garden vegetables are saved for a wintry day.
The jar is valued by its contents. Garden vegetables are saved for a wintry day.

He came to give us life and that “more abundantly.”  John 10:10

May Your Empty Vessels Be Filled to Their Full Potential

You may wish to pull out those empty jars and fill them with blessings that can be shared with others. Whether it be vegetables, plants, flower arrangements, or spare change, empty vessels were created to be used. They provide a means of storing our precious items for a later time.

And May You Be Filled with the Potential Christ Desires for You

You were created with potential. Christ’s desire is for you to be filled with Him.  His grace and mercy is offered to you.  May you be all that Christ has created you to be.

Join in the conversation:

 

Use Active Voice to Improve Your Manuscript

Improve Your Manuscript by Using Active Voice

You can often improve your writing by using active voice instead of passive voice.

Not only is active voice more direct and vivid but also active voice reduces wordiness.

Get others to review your writing.
Active voice reduces wordiness.

Notice the construction of the following sentences. Those that use active voice use less wording. Furthermore, the reader quickly sees the action of the sentence.

  1. The slingshot was made by John’s grandfather using a forked branch and a piece of leather. (passive)
  2. John’s grandfather made a slingshot with a forked branch and a piece of leather. (active)
  1. A shadow was cast over the water by an enormous oak tree. (passive)
  2. An enormous oak tree cast its shadow over the water. (active)
  1. The family was served by the new waitress. (passive)
  2. The new waitress served the family. (active)
  1. The minutes of the last meeting were discussed by the board members. (passive)
  2. The board members discussed the minutes of the last meeting. (active)

Find sentences using passive voice and edit them.

How can I quickly find sentences using passive voice and edit them if necessary?

Check details carefully.
Check for use of passive voice and edit if needed.

Use Navigation Tools

One way to quickly search for passive voice is to use the Navigation Tool or Find Tool in your word processing program.

Look in sentences containing certain words.

Search your manuscript for helping or “be” verbs (am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been) and the verbs shall, will, have, has, and had.  However, if these verbs are being used as linking verbs, the sentence will not be in passive voice.

Notice the construction of the following sentences:

  1. The rose is a thorny shrub. (The verb is not passive because the “be” verb is linking.)
  2. The rose cast its petals on the table. (active)
  3. The petals were cast to the table by the rose. (passive)
  1. The sea was inky dark and frightening. (The verb is not passive because the “be” verb is linking.)
  2. The sea tossed its dark waters into the ship. (active)
  3. The ship was being tossed by the turbulent sea. (passive)

Is the subject doing the action?

Another way to check for active or passive voice is to find out if the subject is doing the action or receiving the action of the verb.

Notice the construction of the following sentences:

  1. A guard is protecting the bank teller. (The verb is active because the subject is doing the protecting.)
  2. The bank teller is being protected by the guard. (The verb is passive because the subject of the sentence is not doing but receiving the action. The bank teller is not doing the protecting.)
  1. The hummingbird was pursuing the insect. (The verb is active because the subject is doing the action.)
  2. The insect was being pursued by the hummingbird. (The verb is passive because the subject of the sentence is receiving the action. The insect is not doing the pursuing.)

Search in sentences with prepositional phrases beginning with “by”.

An additional search should be made for sentences with prepositional phrases beginning with the preposition “by.”

Notice that the above sentences which use passive voice have a prepositional phrase beginning with the preposition “by” that reveals the doer of the action.

  1. The bank teller is being protected by the guard. (passive)

The one who is doing the protecting is the object of the preposition “by.”

The bank teller (subject) is being protected (verb) by the guard (prepositional phrase).

  1. The insect was being pursued by the hummingbird. (passive)

The one who is doing the pursuing is the object of the preposition “by.”

The insect (subject) was being pursued (verb) by the hummingbird (prepositional phrase).

 

When is the passive voice acceptable?

Sometimes using the passive voice is appropriate.

Emphasis

The passive voice is used when the receiver of the action is being emphasized.

  1. A Look at Life from a Deer Stand was written by Steve Chapman and published by Harvest House Publishers. (The title of the book is being emphasized.)
  2. The burglar was arrested by an off-duty officer. (The burglar is being emphasized.)

Variety

The passive voice is sometimes used to create a change in sentence beginnings. This is especially helpful in avoiding repetition of the same wording as the subject of sentences.

Scientific Writings

The passive voice is also appropriate in scientific writings.

  1. First, the surface was cleaned with bleach.
  2. Second, the petri dishes were prepared.
Proofreading steps include edit, rewrite, and present.
Proofread your sentences carefully.

Make your manuscript more interesting to the reader by using active voice.

Reduce the wordiness.

Help readers see the action and improve their reading experience.

Copyright ©2017 by Peggy Clark

Join in the conversation.
Have you found yourself using passive voice when you should be using active voice?
What problems are you experiencing when writing your rough drafts?

 

 

 

When Duty Becomes Love

I wonder what happened to Martha’s ministry after she saw Lazarus raised from the dead.

How did her ministry change as she walked away from that tomb of death with her brother?

Martha’s Ministry After Lazarus’ Death

John 11 – 12

I wonder what happened to Martha’s ministry after she saw Lazarus raised from the dead. 

How did her ministry change as she walked away from that tomb of death with her brother?


Martha was known for her hospitality. Her home was an anchor for Jesus and His disciples.

Jesus frequently stayed at her house as He traveled in and out of nearby Jerusalem.

Her home was a haven from the weariness of the dusty roads that threaded the countryside.

How many times did Jesus wash His feet there? How many times did a warm meal fill His empty stomach? How many times did He lay His head down to rest there?

I wonder what the pillows would say if they could talk. I wonder what the dogs under the table would repeat if only we could understand their barkings.

Martha’s gift

Martha had a gift. She loved to cook and to serve. She opened her home not only to Jesus but to His followers also.

I wonder if she looked forward in anticipation of Jesus’s next return from His wanderings about Galilee. Did she realize how important her ministry was to Him during His 3 ½ years of evangelization?

So, what happened that dreadful day that her brother died? Did she lose all hope and sink in despair? Did her faith in Christ falter?

Her thoughts must have troubled her. Where was He? Where was the Christ that she so loved? Where was the Christ that so loved her brother?

Lazarus was dead. That was a fact. She had to face it. Jesus did not come.

But Christ knew. The messengers told Him Lazarus was sick, but they had returned without Him.

Her heart sank as she looked desperately down the long road that she had seen Jesus travel so many times before, but He was not there.

Today she and Mary would prepare Lazarus for the grave. His body would be thoroughly cleaned. Spices would be placed upon his body to temporarily preserve and prevent the soon-coming stench of death.  His body would be wound tightly in linens. Then would begin the procession to the burial site where his body would be placed among the skeletal remains of other loved ones gone on before.


Today was now yesterday. Lazarus was buried. What was in Martha’s thoughts as she looked down the road and saw no Jesus? Oh, how her heart must have yearned to talk to Him. If only He would have come, her brother had not died.


But he did die. Three days have passed. Now it is the fourth day. There is no hope.

The mourners are beginning to leave.

Family members are packing their bags in hopes of returning to their homes safely. There is nothing left for them to do but finish the day with Martha and start their trip early in the morning.

It’s been four days. Even the superstitious believe that Lazarus’s spirit has left his body to never return.

Martha’s lack of understanding

Four days of preparing meals and preparing beds and serving drinks. Martha’s body must have cried out for relief. Yet she’s sitting with her guests when a messenger arrives.

Jesus has returned! Yes, He’s on His way!

But as Martha looked out the window she did not see Jesus. He was not there; but, she would go to Him. Yes, she would go to where He was.

“Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”

Martha regretted that Jesus had not been there. Maybe she thought that she should have sent for Him sooner. Maybe she thought that she and Lazarus were not as important as some others in His life. The ‘maybe’s’ occupied her thought life. The ‘maybe’s’ clouded her ability to hear Jesus’s words as He spoke to her:

“Thy brother shall rise again.”

Martha acknowledged that she knew that Lazarus would rise again at the last day. But her ‘maybe’s’ kept her from hearing the most precious words she could hear on that fateful day:

“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

If only she could have placed Lazarus’s name in that verse at that tearful moment. Jesus was telling her that He is the resurrection, that He is the life. He (Lazarus) that believes in me (Jesus), though Lazarus is dead, yet shall Lazarus live!

Though Martha acknowledged that Jesus is the Christ, she did not understand His resurrection power. Without fully understanding Jesus’ words to her, she left to find her sister Mary and tell her of His return.

The conversation that passed between Martha and Mary, as Martha led Mary to where Jesus was waiting, must have been filled with a mixture of emotions. Painful because Lazarus is dead, yet joyful because Jesus is near. A chorus of loud wailing followed them as they made their way to where Jesus was waiting.

Jesus’ painful request

Upon seeing Jesus His request to them was the simple response, “Where have ye laid him?”

As Martha and Mary led Jesus to the tomb, they felt Jesus’ pain over the death of Lazarus. As they heard Jesus weeping, it must have comforted them.

Yes, He did love Lazarus. Maybe His tears helped to heal their hurting hearts. Even those that followed behind acknowledged how Jesus must have loved Lazarus.

Then came the shocking words:

“Jesus said, Take ye away the stone.”

Take away the stone? How could Jesus want to see Lazarus’ body now?

“Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.”

How could Martha see Lazarus again in his present state? She could not fathom how she would feel seeing him after being dead four days. She did not wish to see his swollen body, nor smell the stench nor see the maggots at work consuming his flesh.

Lord, he stinketh. He’s been dead four days. You don’t want to see him now. Why did you not come sooner? You could have seen him then. Not now, Lord.

“Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?”

Oh, if only she had heard and understood His precious words.

Suddenly, a booming voice was heard.

“Lazarus, come forth.”

Could it be? Could Jesus really raise Lazarus back from the dead? Is He truly the resurrection and the life?

Martha’s mind must have been racing. If I will “believe”; yes, Lord, I will believe.

“And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin.  Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.”

A change of ministry

Martha walked home with her brother that day. Later, (John 12:2) we find Martha serving Jesus at her table.

Her table was where she ministered to Jesus. He and His disciples were always welcome at her table.

Martha was a servant. Her gift of hospitality became a gift of love.

No longer did she serve out of duty. Her life was changed when she realized Who it was that she was serving.

No matter who was in her home, she was now serving the Resurrection and the Life.  She was serving Jesus. She was not just serving in love but she was serving love.

Copyright ©2017 by Peggy Clark

Above Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, King James Version.

Peggy Clark is also the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome. This title is available from Westbow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paragraphs: Helping Students Overcome Difficulties

Overcoming Difficulties Students Have with Writing Paragraphs

Follow these steps to write a good paragraph.
Paragraph writing does not have to be difficult.

During my teaching years in the classroom, I found that many students had difficulties with writing assignments.

It wasn’t that they didn’t have anything to say. That was obvious during morning break and lunch.

However, if asked to write a paragraph or an essay, students fiddled with their pencils and drew a blank.

That is normal, by the way, for the elementary age. If yours does the same thing, think nothing of it. Just go to work and help them with their topics.

Brainstorm.

Brainstorm with the students. What topics pose interest to them?

What are their hobbies? Their favorite sports? Their favorite pastime? Their favorite restaurants? Be sure to have a list of ideas on hand.

For boys, topics of interest may include cars, hunting, sports, or four-wheeling. For girls, topics may include fashion, hair styles, sports, or shopping.

Expect interests to vary by age and gender.

Narrow down the topic.

The problem is that many teachers stop at that juncture, still leaving students bewildered. The above topics are much too broad.

Your job as a teacher is to help the students narrow down their topics to a specific point. Then follow through by asking some basic questions.

For example, if a student wishes to write about cars, what specifically will they write about?

What is it about cars that interests them as a topic? Is it the make, the model, the style? Or is it the mechanics or the motor or the wheels?

Continue asking questions until students narrow down their topics to a specific point that can be stated in a single sentence.

Cars are fun. (Too broad.)

What is it about cars that makes them fun?

I like to ride in them? (Still too broad.)

Why do you like to ride in them?

I like riding in them because I like to go fast.

What makes cars go fast?

I like a fast motor.

What kind of motor do you think is the best motor for the car you want to drive?

Or

What kind of motor do you think would be the fastest for the car you want to drive?

Now the topic is narrowed down to a specific point that the students can research if necessary. This specific point is called the main idea of the paragraph.

Write the main idea.

Have the students write their specific point or main idea in a single sentence.

A 454 cubic inch V-8 motor is the best motor (or whatever motor they feel is the best or the fastest).

Write supporting sentences.

Students should write at least three supporting sentences.

Help students with this by asking several questions to get them thinking about what they will write. Give specific instructions to help them with this part of their assignment.

Why is it the best motor? I want you to give me three reasons. Write each reason in a single sentence. (Students will have three sentences for this part.)

Do research.

Let the students research for the three reasons if necessary.

Look over their three sentences concerning reasons. If they have attempted to start their sentences with the word “because”, have them restate those sentences.

(This may be a good time for a class in sentence structure. Do not miss the opportunity to teach restating of sentences if needed.)

Now the students should have a topic sentence and three sentences supporting the topic sentence.

Write a final or concluding statement.

The final sentence should be a restatement of the topic sentence. For some paragraphs, the last sentence may be a concluding sentence.

The finished product of their writing will be a minimum five-sentence paragraph.

Older students can then embellish their paragraphs with additional information if desired. They will need to be instructed that any additional information must support the topic sentence.

Edit paragraphs.

Have students correct spelling and punctuation errors.

Rewrite paragraphs.

Proofreading steps include edit, rewrite, and present.
Teach students how to proofread paragraphs.

Finally, students should rewrite their paragraphs in their best handwriting.

Many students hate writing class because they are required to turn in an error-free paper.

Having students use erasable black pens gives students experience in writing in ink. The use of erasable pens also reduces the frustration that everyone experiences when they make mistakes.

Remember that the focus of this assignment is paragraph writing not penmanship, although penmanship is important. That is why using an erasable pen at this point is invaluable.

Present and/or display paragraphs.

As a classroom teacher, I mounted students’ writing assignments on construction paper and displayed their finished products on the classroom or hallway walls.

Students were always excited to see their work on display. They also enjoyed reading other students’ accomplishments. Having their work displayed also encouraged them to strive harder on their future writing assignments.

As time allowed, I also asked the students to present their work orally. This was to increase their oral presentation skills.

The supper table is an excellent place to have students do oral presentations. Parents and siblings alike can enjoy the newly acquired writing skills of their loved ones.

Copyright 2017 by Peggy Clark


Join in the conversation:
What frustrations have you experienced in teaching your students/children to write?
What ideas can you suggest to get students writing?