There was a powerful man. He wanted property that belonged to his neighbor so he set up a meeting at a local restaurant and asked his neighbor if he was willing to sell.
The neighbor refused which made the man very sad. He left the meeting pouting because of his inability to convince the neighbor to make a deal.
An Evil Conspiracy Begins
Later that night the man’s wife asked him why he was so depressed. After discussing his attempts to purchase the property, his wife conspired an evil plot.
The plot was carried out by those who were secretly hired by the wife. The neighbor, who was now seen as an enemy that stood in the way of her and her husband’s expansion plans, was to be promoted in front of the townspeople.
A Media Frenzy Orchestrated
As the proceedings began, false accusations were brought before the people. The media was employed to put the attendants at the proceedings in a frenzy. A false narrative was given that stirred the people to react foolishly which caused the death of the neighbor. This happened even though the townspeople knew that the neighbor was a good man and worthy of the promotion.
The Target Destroyed
The destruction of the neighbor was completed before any of the accusers’ credibility could be questioned.
After the funeral, the wife and her powerful husband confiscated the property leaving the neighbor’s wife and children unable to provide for themselves.
For a while the couple enjoyed the ill-gotten property. They thought their coverup was complete and felt no remorse over their evil deed.
All the neighbor’s hard labor in growing a successful vineyard seemed to have been wasted. His house was turned into a potting shed. The vines were removed and replaced with herbs and flowers.
The property became a private grove where the couple could entertain their rich friends and acquaintances. Business deals were made and celebrated there.
The Evil Plot Uncovered
A message was delivered to the powerful man. The details revealed that Someone knew of his terrible deed. For a short while, the rich man felt sorrowful for what he had done. Yet, his wife continued her evil ways. It seemed that nothing could stop her from attacking all who opposed her continual pursuit of power.
The couple’s desire for more power and prestige led them to formulate a plan to take over a nearby city. They covenanted with another powerful man and engaged in efforts to take the city. While those plans were carried out, the husband was killed.
An opposition party arose that threatened the power and livelihood of the wife. Using her great power and hefty bank account, she was able to protect herself. She updated her appearance and used her words wisely to control those around her.
Thinking that she could control any man with her looks and her sly words, she boldly and confidently suggested that no one could rise to resist her. But soon her demise would come.
The wife rented a tower to proclaim her victory and authority over anyone who would come against her. Yet, those whom she abused day by day with her insults, derogatory language, and belittling remarks realized that there was no point in thinking that she would one day appreciate or care for their efforts to keep her happy.
Called into Question
Finally, her helpers saw that protecting this woman was depriving them of the life and liberty they desired for themselves. They were not prospering as she had promised them. The only ones who had prospered were the woman and her evil husband and their powerful friends. Suddenly, they realized that they had only been used to help this woman cover her evil and her harm of innocent people.
Once the helpers’ eyes were opened to the realization that they had been lied to and used only for the evil woman’s gain they made a choice to be truthful to themselves.
This was not the life that they wanted to live. This was not the woman they wanted to support.
As a short trial ensued, those who had previously supported the woman gave their testimony to the evil she had committed. They then assisted in the downfall of her and her kingdom.
No Where to Hide
This event in history reminds us that although evil may prevail for a time, governments and peoples are to follow the laws set forth by Almighty God. Eventually evil will be dealt with by God if those peoples and governments do not follow through with their God-ordained responsibilities.
God’s intervention in the above situation may have seemed delayed, yet God gives people a choice as to whether they will arise and do what is right and necessary to control evil. God waits to see how they will react when temptation is before them. Will the people choose evil or good?
No man or woman can do any deed, good or evil, and hide it from the All-Seeing Eye of God. We will all stand either before the Judgment Seat of Christ or before the Great White Throne of Almighty God.
Always remember, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.” Would you rather have the ‘wages’ or the ‘gift’?
Just so you know, the wicked wife had a choice too. She chose the wages and succumbed to a horrible death. Her pursuit of power had come to an end.
Good always wins over evil in the end.
Be aware, Satan knows the Good Book, too.
(For more intel on the story, see the Book of 1 Kings.)
Because of our limited knowledge, we assume some roads are better than others.
We think that we can control our destiny by the roads that we choose, but we cannot know what lies ahead or what awaits us at the end of the journey.
We assume concrete is better than pavement or that gravel is better than dirt.
Concrete may lead us to major cities with skyscraper views, suspension bridges, and fancy restaurants.
Pavement may lead us to more rural areas, smaller towns, and private businesses.
Gravel slows our pace and lets us pay more attention to the various ways people live. We see more of the detail in housing, outdoor life, and personal preference.
But dirt. It’s the road most people are afraid to take. Where will we end up? What if we can’t turn around? What if there’s danger ahead?
The Advantage of the Dirt Road
But the dirt road narrows our vision to one place at a time. We become less distracted by all the busyness. We notice things we never do on other roads: the farmer milking the cow, the children playing on a swing-set, the mother hoeing the garden.
Suddenly we notice how the buildings are arranged, the particular plantings in the yard, the curtains swaying in the open windows, and the creative ways in which people erect their mailboxes.
We stop and discover new friends, partake of fresh fruits and vegetables, and learn about the history of the area.
That is, some do. Others stop and turn around in private driveways, never to return to discover what lies ahead. They are afraid to discover something new. They do not wish to travel down the unknown road.
Traveling Down the Unknown Roads
My father loved traveling down the unknown roads.
This is how my father discovered where to buy the best molasses, where to pick the best peaches, and where to return for sourwood honey. We loved riding with him ‘just to find out where it leads. You never know where it might come out.’
I still like riding the backroads. People are always friendly, yet understandably less so today.
You never know where a road will lead you. Sometimes you find a valuable shortcut. Sometimes the road is long and winding and never seems to end, but you always see new places and meet new faces.
People still return a wave and a smile, but you would never have known unless you had ridden down the dirt road.
Do you have a special memory of traveling down an unknown road? Please share your comments below.
It may seem like you are in a dark place now. It may not look like what God called you to do. But God in His wisdom knew you would need this experience to toughen you for the ministry ahead.
“But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God.
My times are in thy hand.” Psalm 31:14-15a
Elijah’s calling was to preach to the leadership of his nation (1 Kings 17-18). He was even able to speak directly to the king.
I’m sure Elijah didn’t expect his next stop to be in the wilderness with no one with which to fellowship. When his water supply began to dwindle, he probably wondered what God was doing in his life.
Elijah’s ministry then grew from zero to two, a widow and her son. At least he had someone to talk to, that is, until tragedy struck.
The widow woman’s son died, and Elijah’s ministry was questioned. Yet, in the midst of tragedy, Elijah went to God in prayer and a miracle happened. The son was brought back to life.
From there Elijah would face the false prophets and false priests who deceived the nation. One man stood alone against so many.
Yet he knew he was not alone. He was on a mission from God.
Your mission may not seem as important as Elijah’s, but the soul of the widow woman was just as important to God as the nation’s repentance from the false religion that plagued the masses.
Your mission is just as important as Elijah’s. God knows where you are and He knows where you are headed.
This trial is preparing you. Meanwhile, God is preparing the soil to be receptive to the message He has given you.
God’s timing is perfect. Wait on Him to perform His plan through you.
We may not always understand what God is doing at any moment, but we know that God can always be trusted to do what is right. When you don’t see His hand at work, trust His heart.
“Let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” James 5:20
May your wilderness experience soon turn into pools of living water (See Isaiah 41:18).
A Prayer for the Missionary
Dear Father God in Heaven,
Sometimes we fail to understand Your plan. Even Moses could not understand why he and the Hebrew children were led to the Red Sea. Yet, You opened the way which seemed impossible. You led them through on dry land.
When your people prayed, they failed to believe that You would answer their prayers and release Peter from prison.
When Paul and Silas prayed, the prison was shaken so that a jailer and his family could be saved.
When your enemies set John on the Isle of Patmos, they did not realize You would use John to write the words of Revelation.
You are Almighty God. Show your wonders and power to the discouraged missionary and grant him or her the strength to carry on Your mighty work until Your plan for their lives is accomplished.
Someone is waiting to hear Your gospel message. May the gospel find them through this missionary.
It’s early November and the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us. Already social media is filled with brag shots of what? Christmas trees decorated to the hilt.
But what about Thanksgiving?
Have we forgotten the season of gratitude?
Have we forgotten to be thankful for the blessings that we have received throughout the previous year?
Here’s one idea for putting up the tree that keeps the Gratitude Attitude going for just a wee bit longer before the Christmas hustle and bustle arrives.
Why not have a Thanksgiving Tree?
Yes, you can put the tree up early.
But instead of decorating it like a Christmas tree, why not use the items found in the horn of plenty or cornucopia.
Get the Children Involved
Let the children get involved by cutting out shapes of pumpkins, grapes, acorns, or another fall harvest fruitage. Use a hole punch to cut a hole in the top of the shapes through which to attach a string or ribbon for hanging.
Allow every family member to write something for which they are thankful on the shapes. Place the extra shapes in a basket near the tree for visitors to participate.
Hang the blessings on the tree along with strands of popcorn, orange ribbons, appropriately colored bobbles, etc. Tuck artificial pumpkins, gourds, pine cones, ears of corn, etc., between the branches.
Enjoy letting the children make small cornhusk dolls to place on the tree. Cornhusks can also be used to make ribbons for tying.
Use your creativity to think of other items you might use. The main idea is to get our hearts in a thankful mood before Christmas so that we can truly be thankful for the greatest blessing of all, Jesus Christ.
And, yes, share your tree photos on social media. Who knows who you might inspire!
After the Thanksgiving holiday, just replace the Thanksgiving decorations with Christmas ones. The tree will already be up, and the children will love getting to decorate the tree twice.
And maybe, just maybe, everyone will remember what Thanksgiving is truly about and have a thankful heart for the bounty they will soon receive.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving Tree!
From our house to yours, have a blessed Thanks Giving season.
It has been said that those four words attract the most attention from email subscribers.
You are not alone…
What is it about those words that gets people’s attention? that compels people to open their email and read the enclosed words?
In the busyness of this modern world, you would think that it would be impossible to be lonely. Yet, many people are.
Reasons People Are Lonely
Some are lonely because they have lost their spouse. Some are lonely because they have never married. Some are lonely because they have never found a friend whom they consider trustworthy.
Whatever the reason, people can feel lonely even in the midst of a roomful of people. It isn’t the presence of human bodies that keeps one from feeling lonely. It is the lack of connection.
Lack of Connection
People just aren’t connected as they once were.
In the past, women connected by joining in quilting groups or by get-togethers to cook for mourning or suffering community members.
It wasn’t the quilting or the cooking that connected them. Although that was what brought them together. It was the communication between attendees that joined their hearts together. Women looked forward to such times with great eagerness.
Words of Comfort
You are not alone…
Those words bring comfort to anyone who senses separation.
But how does one keep from feeling alone even if no person is present?
In Christ, we are never alone. He has said in His word that He will never leave us or forsake us. It is our relationship with Christ that keeps us from being alone at any given time.
Having a personal relationship with Christ means that we can communicate with Him at any given moment. We can allow Him to speak to us through His Word (Scripture).
We can trust that He is present in our circumstances whether we feel His presence or not.
How to Never Be Alone
Being “in Christ” will keep us from being alone because “In Christ” you truly are not alone.
“[F]or he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5
“And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest…for I will not leave thee.” Genesis 28:15
“[A]nd, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:20
You can be physically alone, and yet, not be lonely.
Join in the conversation:
Have you ever felt ‘alone’ even though you were in a room full of people?
What suggestions do you have to help someone who feels lonely?
Pearls endure as an essential beauty accessory because they integrate well with any fashion or style preference.
From runway models adorned with draped ropes to royalty bedecked with single and multiple strands to fashion gurus flaunting their latest designs, even fashion magazine authors and Hollywood movie stars alike realize that pearls make an impression.
Jackie Kennedy’s Thought on Pearls
“Pearls are always appropriate,” so said former first lady Jackie Kennedy Onassis.
Known for the three-strand pearl necklace she so often wore, Mrs. Jackie Onassis’s jewelry wardrobe consisted of a variety of pearl beauties. Her lovely pearl-drop earrings would catch anyone’s attention. She wore single and double-strand pearl necklaces and bracelets as well.
Being the classy lady that she was, her wearing of pearls certainly made an impression. Mrs. Onassis didn’t flaunt her pearls though. Instead, she wore them to enhance herself.
Instead of detracting from her beauty, pearls actually complimented her in a striking way. Just do an online search of her photos and you will see for yourself.
Pearls of the Royal Household
Queen Elizabeth of England frequently wears pearls. They reflect her desire to be modest yet fashionable. They are so important to her that she chose to wear a special two-strand necklace on her wedding day in 1947.
A pearl may also be found in now-deceased Princess Diana’s tiara which has since been presented to Kate Middleton.
Pearls are desired by the lowly, the modest, the well-to-do, and certainly the well-dressed.
It is not surprising that they be found on the latest wish list.
What is it that makes pearls so desirable? Is it their beauty, their costliness, their ability to impress or to enhance?
Pearls can be found naturally or can be cultured, farmed, or synthetic.
Looking through the glass cases at your favorite jewelry store, you may find it hard to discern real pearls from those that are cultured, farmed, or synthetic.
Real or natural pearls are formed by oysters or sea mussels (bi-valves) that are irritated by a foreign object that lodges inside their shells. The bi-valves then secretes a liquid that covers the foreign object in order to reduce the irritation. This process is continued causing a pearl to be formed in each.
For centuries, divers have risked their own lives diving for oysters with hopes of finding a rare pearl.
Pearls can be man-made instead of formed naturally.
Pearl farms have been created to culture pearls. Foreign substances are forcibly introduced into bi-valves. The bi-valves are fed and nurtured in order to harvest the pearls that are formed. The production of pearls in this manner has affected the market price of pearls.
Then there are the synthetic ones made of plastic, glass, or waxed glass. These can be distinguished from real pearls by how they feel when rubbed or bit with the teeth.
Natural pearls remain the most desired.
Natural pearls remain the most desired albeit costly. But due to pearl farming, anyone at any economic level can afford to purchase a set of pearls for their very own. Their value, however, is determined by their size and shape, as well as, several other factors. The price of cultured pearls can range in the hundreds, but natural pearls can range in the tens of thousands.
Pearls are mentioned in the Bible.
Pearls are also mentioned in the Bible. Their value is highlighted in the following verse:
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it. Matthew 13:45-46
Another Scriptural reference is in Matthew 7:6:
Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
Why would anyone want to cast a precious string of pearls into the hog pen?
Why would anyone want to take what man had risked his life to find just to throw it to swine?
Pearls evolve from a painful insertion of a foreign object. For a bi-valve, this may be a grain of sand or grit that somehow finds its way inside the bi-valve’s shell.
Turn Sorrows into Pearls
We realize that small matters can sometimes create the most pain. That type of pain causes oysters to create pearls.
It is these painful moments in our own lives that also somehow become pearls. Man-made hurts inflicted upon us cause suffering that we find hard to endure. Self-inflicted wounds are the hardest to bear.
However, when we take those pains to our Lord and Saviour, He covers them with His balm of Gilead. As our Great Physician, he has a way of turning our sorrows into pearls.
This doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process that takes time. God’s grace continues to cover us as we go through the healing process.
In fact, it is actually the struggles of life that form Christ in us.
Pearls Are Memorial Stones
As Joshua took up 12 stones out of the midst of Jordan for a memorial, so our pearls are a memorial unto us. They remind us of the victories that came as we allowed Christ to help us face each obstacle, fight each battle, and choose to love in spite of any circumstance.
Then why would anyone take the pearls that have been formed through such pain and cast them before those that do not understand their value?
Why take our pains and sufferings and present them to those who would only turn and use them against us?
Christ’s instructed His hearers not to cast their pearls before swine.
Swine were considered unclean. God’s chosen people were not to partake of these animals. However, Jesus is not talking about animals but uses these words as descriptive of those who ridicule the Word and ridicule those who follow the Word.
The unclean are those who do not understand or appreciate the value of our pearls.
It is those who do not care to learn the lessons we have been taught and who will not grasp the hope that we have found.
We have to be careful with whom we share our “pearls.” There are those who we can enlighten with our pearl formations, but there are those who will only use those formations to turn and destroy us.
Our pearls are precious. They are our gifts of victory from our Saviour.
True pearls glow from within. The more they are worn, the more they glow.
Our pearl memorials glow from within with the glory of God.
They are a reflection of His faithfulness to us.
Cling to your pearls. As Jackie Kennedy Onassis said, “Pearls are always appropriate.”
Wear them proudly, but humbly. May others with impressed with Christ in us. May they be drawn to His beauty.
Copyright 2016 by Peggy Clark
Do you have a favorite strand of pearls or a favorite set of pearl earrings?
Have you ever thought of your troubles and trials as a process to making pearls?
What “pearls” or victories through Christ do you have as a memorial?
May your pearls be used to bring glory to Christ. Remember the pain that the oyster endured to bring forth a pearl. Remember,also, the pain that Christ endured so that we could be victorious over our troubles and trials.
Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome. Published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan.
It has taken its toll upon those who only see Christmas as an opportunity for person gain. Greedy for profits some merchants entice with promising advertisements that bring little to no satisfaction. The misled find themselves with lots of purchased merchandise but little joy.
How do shoppers find themselves depressed when they have striven so hard to please?
Was not that the doll that Susie wanted so desperately?
Didn’t Jack say he wanted that new red bicycle more than anything in the world?
Was Billy not pleased with the new shoes?
And why did Tammy just throw her game pieces across the room?
What happened to Christmas?
Did it come to steal and to take away?
Is it an imposter wrapped up in fancy wrapping and frivolous bows?
Why bother to celebrate it anyway?
What is Christmas?
Yes, people may argue about its meaning. Yes, people may refuse to celebrate it. Yes, people may use it for personal gain.
But, what is Christmas?
Christmas is not about getting what we want for Christmas.
It’s not about trying to please everyone with our fancy gifts.
It’s not about decorations, trimmings, light displays, or glitter.
It’s not even about the Christmas play.
Christmas is a memorial.
It is a day we set aside to remember the selfless action bestowed toward mankind by the Creator of the universe.
It is a remembrance of the day that the Almighty Creator God stepped out of Heaven and came to dwell with mankind. Placing Himself in the womb of a virgin woman, He became flesh and dwelt among us.
Christmas is a celebration of the very moment that God manifested Himself in the flesh.
Mary cradled Him. Joseph loved and cared for Him.
The shepherds told everyone about Him. Simeon lifted Him up and prophesied concerning Him.
The angels glorified Him. Anna thanked Him. The wise men provided for Him.
But Herod tried to kill Him.
Emanuel, God with us. That is what Christmas is all about. It is God with us.
Christmas is a remembrance of the day He came, wrapped in swaddling clothes, laid in a manger.
His presence in the flesh lasted such a short time, only 33 ½ years. But God was with us.
He chose to come.
He chose to come even though He knew the cross would be his pathway back to Heaven.
He chose to give Himself.
And that is Christmas.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11
Christmas morning finds children delighted with treasures found under the Christmas tree. Wrappings, bubble wrap, and ribbons sail through the air as package upon package gives way to the attack of fingers tearing at the carefully and thoughtfully placed endowments from family and friends.
Giggles and glees atone for parents’ hard and sometimes frustrating endeavors at making Christmas a time of excitement and adventure.
Spruce, fir, and cedar cuttings arrayed in reds, golds, silvers, and blues drape doorways and mantles. Manger scenes, postcard displays, and Advent calendars compete with snowmen, angels, and poinsettias nestled in every nook, corner, and shelf.
Smells permeate the air alerting all under their spell of the festivities just ahead.
Apples and cinnamon, oranges and tangerines, candy sticks and chocolate drops make one dizzy with desire.
Turkey and dressing, hams and sauces waft their tantalizing bouquets. Aromas of cookies oozing, pies bubbling, and puddings steaming send one rushing through the heavier affairs. Onward to the myriad of cakes decorated with flair.
Christmas Memories Made
With candle lights glowing and fireplaces flickering, filled tummies settle down for a well-deserved and long-awaited nap. Sweet dreams await those reminiscing of Christmases past.
Another Christmas has come and will soon depart. Memories made now become a part of one’s past that will never be forgotten.
May your festivities be celebrations that remain as praise-worthy memorials for you and your loved ones.
From the Clark house to yours,
Have a very Merry Christ-filled Christmas.
Copyright 2016 by Peggy Clark
What are some special memories you have of Christmases past?
Are you trying to incorporate those into your Christmas festivities this year?
What traditions are you trying to keep on a yearly basis?
Do you have a new idea that you are implementing this year?
Who doesn’t love lounging under warm covers with a good book in hand?
Which of you haven’t staved off sleep to finish a page-turner?
What keeps your book in my hands when others are screaming for my attention?
These four tips will drown those other voices and get me to your final page.
Get my attention!
Use the active voice.
Even if you begin your story with the setting (where, when) that so many of us were taught in class, use active voice instead of passive voice.
Consider the following:
The sun was setting behind the hills that were around the little town of NoWhere. John and Jill were living in a house at the end of Sober Street. There was a garden beside the house. They also had a small flock of chickens.
So nowhere…and boring…and sober….and are you asleep yet?
Or would this be your preference:
The sun peered above the hills and threw its rays into the town of NoWhere reaching through the half-closed curtains at the end of Sober Street. Inside, John and Jill absorbed the potential consequences of their pillaged garden.
Activate your story with action.
A dramatic scene is better than an uneventful one; such as, an evening ride that happens to end in a crash. Startle me with the crash and then give me the details.
Consider the following:
John and Jill decided to go for a ride. They were riding down the highway in their red convertible when they happened upon a white truck.
Or would this be your preference:
Brakes screamed as white meshed with red, each vying to occupy the same spot of pavement.
Television dramas reveal the crime first and then continue through a series of events that lead to the capture of the accused. The action creates the desire to know what happened and why.
NCIS is the number one television drama because of the usage of this method. Its viewers keep coming back for more.
Use questions to get attention.
Another method is to use questions to gain attention.
Jesus used this method when relaying His Parable of the Lost Sheep:
“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” Luke 15:4
If nothing else, make me step into the story long enough to answer the question.
Don’t make me hunt for the topic.
When presented with questions from John the Baptist, Jesus’ response was direct: Go and tell. Notice His response in the following verse:
“Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.” Luke 7:22
John’s disciples were to report to John what they themselves had seen and heard. That is telling the story. Teachers call it “Sticking to the Topic.”
Jesus also used strong nouns and active verbs.
Notice the simple but succinct wording that lets us visualize the action:
The blind see. The lame walk. The lepers are cleansed. The deaf hear. The deadare raised. The gospel is preached.
Tell me your story with strong nouns and verbs that let me use my imagination to see the action. Don’t drag me down with a series of unnecessary and lengthy descriptives that send me to a screeching halt and a closed book.
Keep me interested.
Give me a scenario that gets my attention and keeps me reading.
When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he told a parable that caught their attention.
“There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of my adversary.” Luke 18:2-3
Use the element of surprise to your advantage.
This parable pitted a ruthless judge against a widow who had no man to intercede for her. Her boldness in coming before the judge intrigued the disciples.
How would this judge respond? Obviously, not as the disciples imagined. The element of surprise caught the disciples off-guard causing them to think carefully about what they had just heard. Please surprise me!
Get my attention and keep me hunting for the next clue.
Unravel the threads of the story ever so slowly but at just the right speed to keep me traveling to the next page.
Don’t lose me in wasted words and unnecessary actions that add no value to the story.
Make me satisfied with the ending (but you can make me beg for more!)
Cinderella and the Prince lived happily ever after. (But, what change came over the kingdom?)
The woodsman killed the wolf. (But, did Goldilocks overcome the trauma of her grandmother’s death?)
“And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.” Luke 22:38
It is enough. Say what you need to say, no more, no less. (But, why two swords? One cut off a soldier’s ear; what did the other do?)
I expect Good to win over Evil. I expect Evil to be reprimanded. I expect Good to be rewarded regardless of the troubles that Good encounters.
Shakespeare’s classics stood the test of time because of these expectations woven throughout his stories.
Use these four tips to make yours a classic, and let me enjoy it for years to come.
Copyright 2016 by Peggy Clark
Do you have a story waiting to be shared?
Have you used strong nouns and active verbs?
Have you replaced unnecessary and lengthy wording with specific and descriptive wording?
Then now is the time to let someone else preview your writing. Use their analysis to improve your story.
November will soon be gone, and December will be upon us before we know it. This month, as we set aside time to give thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us, may we not be quick to forget those sacrifices that many have made on our behalf.
Although November 11 is set aside each year to remember our military veterans, it seems these brave men and women who have given their lives are too swiftly forgotten in the bustle of activities that soon follow.
The brave heroes of the past include such great military men as General Douglas MacArthur, General George Patton, and General Dwight Eisenhower. These men led forces against the evil of Hitler, Mussolini, and General Tito’s aggressive and cruel regimes.
Others have also fought for the freedoms of peoples.
General George Washington led a small group of untrained and ill-equipped volunteers against the overwhelming forces of Britain’s highly trained military and their hired elite forces secured from Germany. His bravery and the men and women who fought with him led to the establishment of the United States of America.
Lieutenant Colonel William Travis led a small group of 182 men and women from Texas against the mighty forces of the Mexican General Santa Anna. Although they failed to win this battle, their sacrifices stirred the hearts of the Texan people to prevail in freeing Texas from the Mexican government. Afterward Texas was granted the privilege of becoming part of the United States.
As We Set Our Tables This Year
As we set our tables this year and share our blessings with those we love and care for, may we also be reminded that the ability to share those blessings without fear of bondage and confinement, was paid for with the blood of courageous men and women whose sacrifices we must never forget.
Do you have a member of the military sitting at your table this Thanksgiving?
Do you have a family story to tell of sacrifices made on behalf of your country? community? family?
What plans have you made to give thanks for the blessings bestowed upon you and your family?
Think Like a Detective to Improve Upon Your Writing
Writing a good story is like being a good detective.
Any piece of writing can be appreciated if it is well-crafted. Readers love a good novel and will eagerly anticipate an ongoing series if they fall in love with the characters and plot.
Authors may follow generally accepted writing processes that help them finish their stories with flair.
However, any story can be greatly improved if one takes the mindset of a detective during the editing process.
To be a good detective, one must be a good observer of details including behavior of characters, crime scene evidence, time of day or year, etc.
To be effective, an author must also carefully observe the details of his or her writing with intense scrutiny. It is the little details that can increase readers’ interest, but it is also the little details that can bring confusion and reader dissatisfaction.
To avoid disappointment, therefore, an author must edit his work with great attention to the details concerning all areas of the writing process.
As a detective walks through the scene under investigation, the detective takes an overall view of what has taken place.
Obviously, a crime has happened. But what exactly was the crime? How did it happen? Who did it? What was the motive that would cause such an event to take place?
Pay close attention to the chain of events.
The detective then takes a second look and makes a hypothesis as to what happened. He (or she) may have several hypotheses at this point.
However, the hypotheses must fit his observation.
Did the suspect enter the room through the door or window? If the window was broken then the assumption may be made that the suspect came through the window. If no windows were broken and every window was locked, then any hypotheses that began with an entrance through a window would be discarded until and unless further evidence was uncovered which would lead to a different conclusion.
An author must also step through his or her story reviewing the events that occurred. Are the events in order?
A careful overview may reveal that some parts are out-of-place.
Did a character named John have a conversation with another character, Jill, at the beginning of the story and then suddenly in chapter five be newly introduced (again) to Jill?
Did a character named Joe die in chapter 3 and have a car wreck in chapter 4?
The above examples may seem silly, but they do happen. It is easy to overlook a seemingly insignificant character’s appearance in one’s writing, especially when one is writing a lengthy novel.
Is anything missing?
What is lacking that is necessary to the story?
After the hypotheses have been formulated, the detective carefully looks back over the scene making note of things that are missing.
What should be there but isn’t? What is making the scene being observed incomplete?
Is there a blank space on the wall with evidence that a picture once hung there? Are there speakers but no stereo? Is there an open safe?
An author must also look for any writing that is out of context. Are the characters believable? Is the setting appropriate? Are clues missing that are needed to solve the mystery?
All clues or inciting moments should lead up to the conclusion.
Remove unrelated material.
Finally, the detective must disregard any details that have nothing to do with the crime.
Food in the refrigerator would have nothing to do with a broken window unless food was taken from the refrigerator. An untouched bedroom would be inconsequential to a crime scene located in the living room except to say no one had entered from that location.
An author must also delete those unnecessary details that are not relatedto the story line and only succeed in slowing down readers who are in a quest to reach the next heart-stopping moment in a series of events.
Those types of unnecessary additions are hard for authors to discover. That is when the detective and the author must bring in another set of eyes to view the evidence.
Hire an editor to proof read your work.
Enlist someone else to preview the material before closing the case or might I say, book.
Will the assistant detective come to the same conclusions as the main detective?
Can the author’s assistant visualize the story line just as the author did?
Were the assistants confused at any point as they followed through the chain of events from start to finish?
Did either get bogged down in a specific area of their search?
Even if the assistant detective is surprised at the final outcome of the investigation, does the assistant feel satisfied with the conclusion?
The assistant to the author may also be delightfully surprised as the assistant concludes his or her investigation into the writings of the author, but is the assistant satisfied with the final product?
Yes, writing can be greatly improved when the detective’s cap is put on and errors are discovered and corrected before reaching the hands of readers.
Copyright 2016 by Peggy Clark
Feel free to comment if this post has been beneficial to you. I enjoy hearing your input.
Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome, a reader-friendly study of Colossians available from WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan.
The thought processes within a particular group of people control the direction in which that particular group or society continues. Although outside factors may influence one’s thinking, every person has the ability to choose the direction his life will take. His lifestyle is just an outward expression of what resides in his heart.
“For as [man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7).
Outward expressions of man’s heart is seen in his artistic, musical, architectural, philosophical, and scholastic tastes and achievements (or lack thereof).
Past societies are known by their cultural achievements. Some societies have given mankind a better way of living than was previously known. Others, however, have left destruction and decay in their aftermath.
In order for mankind to be able to change the culture into a “kinder, gentler” one, mankind must be willing to look into his heart and see the darkness that dwells there. He must be willing to allow the Light of God’s Word to enter in and enlighten him into what is possible when he yields to the precepts set in God’s Word. As he ceases to be conformed to the darkness of this world and yields to the transforming power of God’s Word, he begins to realize that his life has purpose and meaning.
That purpose is to glorify God and influence with godly seed the society or culture of which he is a part. The biblicly-enlightened man is to influence society, but he can only do this if his foundation is firmly established. Otherwise, he will be influenced by the society around him.
A look through the eyes of history will show how societies rise or fall, how their thinking processes dictate their treatment of others, and how their peoples prosper or suffer great cruelty under their governmental leaders.
There are marked differences between those societies and governments who allow the absolutes of God’s Word to influence their decisions and those who turn away from or neglect the absolutes of God’s Word.
How do we confront the culture of darkness for the betterment of mankind?
It may seem like a lost cause for a man to think that he is able to turn a society from the path of darkness and chaos. However, light penetrates the darkness no matter how small that light is.
Individuals with vision have changed the course of history. That course, however, has been determined by those individual’s worldviews. Whether a godly worldview or a humanistic, man-centered worldview, individuals have had great influence on the society around them.
Jesus, as an individual, exerted such a profound influence over His disciples that it was told that they “turned the world upside down.” These men stood strong in their determination to spread the gospel. Although highly persecuted, their stand for the gospel has influenced mankind ever since.
Paul was used mightily by God in confronting the evil in his day. Since his time, many other men and women have had a profound impact on their societies: Jonathan Edwards, George Washington, James Madison, Billy Sunday, Dwight Moody, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Clara Barton, etc.
We also remember others who have had great influence on their societies: Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, Huxley, Kant, Darwin, and Marx.
The above individuals’ influences have continued to impact societies today. Some for good, some for evil.
However, as individuals, we also have an influence for good or evil in our society. So, how, as individuals, can we confront the evil of this world? How can we make an impact that leaves society better for our having existed on this earth?
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:13
Speak with sound words.
First, we must speak with sound words. Those words convey the intent of our hearts. If our minds and hearts are set on glorifying God, we will choose our words carefully and purposefully.
“But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
In meekness, instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
2 Timothy 2:23-26
Our words can make a deep impression in the lives of others. The way our words are expressed can make a difference in how receptive others are to those words.
Speak with words composed of truth.
Next, our words must be composed of truth.
“These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates” (Zechariah 8:16).
Our words should be composed of truth whether within our own communities, in the judgment halls, or in conversation with other nations and peoples.
Stand in truth.
“Stand therefore, having your loins gird about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14).
Then, we must stand in that truth.
No matter how the tide of opinion may try to sway us from our stance, we must uphold truth. It is truth that will bring liberty to those caught in the lies of deception.
Uphold truth to society.
Finally, we must uphold truth to society. Truth is not based upon man’s opinion but firmly upon the Word of God. The foundation of truth must be firmly established. It is the absolute upon which societies will be judged. It is also the glue that holds a nation together. Without it, all that is left is a society in chaos.
“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” (Psalm 9:17).
Copyright 2016 Peggy Clark
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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; Amazon; Barnes & Noble; and other retailers.
Whether rain, hail, wind, snow, or sleet, storms are a part of our world. Cool air masses meet with warm air masses and the weather becomes unsettled.
Storms, especially wind storms and blizzards tend to drive away everything that is not nailed down. Flood waters lift and carry items with such force that it simply leaves one in amazement at the sight of the devastation left in the flood’s aftermath.
Freezing temperatures from snow and sleet can leave the unprepared outdoorsman with frostbite or worse.
That‘s why we must be prepared for the arrival of storms.
If we know that a storm is coming, we won’t be caught off guard.
In the same way, when spiritual forces of light meet with spiritual forces of darkness, struggles develop. The conflict that follows can leave our world in turmoil.
Troubles and trials that ensue cause us to cast off idols that cannot bring deliverance. Thus, we are driven to the refuge of the True Master.
Storms, both physical and spiritual, will come our way, but they need not find us unprepared.
Prepare for the storm’s arrival.
Storms can be gentle, but many times they are a source of great danger. Knowing how to prepare will keep us from being overly apprehensive when a serious storm is forecasted.
Adequate preparations may not prevent damage but will keep us from being caught defenseless.
Don’t let the storm find you unprepared.
Results from dangerous storms may include downed power lines, fallen trees, structural damage, water-covered bridges, tainted water supplies, and even mud slides. Being prepared in the event such things may happen will find us thankful if and when they do come our way.
Keeping a fresh supply of batteries for items such as flashlights, lanterns, and radios will keep us supplied temporarily with the light we need to see and with updates we need to know concerning changing weather patterns.
Since batteries do not last forever, kerosene or oil lamps are a great resource to have as a backup for flashlights. (Just be sure to have a safe reserve of oil stored properly.)
Some radios have the ability to use solar power as an alternative in addition to battery or electric power. Consider those when making your next radio purchase as radio may be rendered the only means of communication with the outside world.
Storage of fresh drinking water is important not only for cooking purposes but also to keep us from becoming dehydrated.
Canned goods that can be eaten cold can help us survive hunger if the storm is prolonged.
Extra blankets and quilts help with warmth during power outages. They can also be used to cover freezers and coolers to keep items colder for longer periods of time. (Be sure to remove them when the power returns.)
A first-aid kit may be purchased at many department stores. One could also be assembled using a tool box, a lunch box, or a sturdy plastic shoe box and items purchased from local pharmacies or department stores. Pharmacy staff are very helpful in giving direction for compiling items that would be useful in such a kit.
Your insurance company or local fire department may be willing to check for areas of weakness and give advice for strengthening your home. This should be done before any storm is expected.
Spiritual storms that come our way may also leave us vulnerable if we are not prepared.
Physical storms and storms of nature can cause our faith to be weakened. Troubles and trials, though not of our making, may attack our faith; but being prepared with the gospel of peace will give us guidance when it is needed.
Having the Word of God embedded in our hearts, maintaining a right relationship with God and others, and keeping our fellowship with Him intact will arm and shield us against oncoming spiritual danger. Response time is critical and can avert disaster; therefore, we should especially know how to answer the trial of temptation when it comes knocking at our doors. Jesus Himself was faced with temptation, but handled it successfully with the Scriptures.
Stay in the place of safety.
Do not leave an area of safety when the storm hits.
If lightning strikes while you are outdoors, do not be the tallest object in an open area. Stay close to the ground instead.
During a tornado warning, a ditch or other low-lying area may be the safest place to occupy if a storm cellar is not available.
If flooding occurs, get to higher ground as soon as possible. Do not travel over water-covered roads or bridges. You cannot see when a roadbed has been eroded or washed away.
In windy conditions, stay away from windows that may break and send glass flying in your direction.
Speaking encouraging words to those around you will help to keep everyone calm and composed.
Encourage yourself in the storm.
It is especially important to stay in the place of safety when spiritual storms come our way.
Staying in God’s presence by prayer and reading His word will encourage us in our deepest trials.
Acknowledging the truths of God’s Word will keep us from making poor decisions that can jeopardize our safety.
The fellowship of God’s people will also give us encouragement as we navigate through the problems of life. Sharing our burdens with others will uplift us and cause others to pray on our behalf.
Remember that the trying of our faith works for us patience and brings us to greater maturity in Christ.
Encouraging ourselves in the storm gives us a hopeful outlook and confidence in God who is able to deliver us and/or carry us safely through any situation or circumstance. Our trusting attitude can strengthen and encourage those around us.
Be encouraged in the knowledge that Christ is our buckler and shield, our counselor and our friend. He will never leave or forsake those that are truly His.
Clean up from the storm.
When the storm is over, the clean-up process begins.Depending upon the severity of the storm, this can take a day, a week, or even months.
If there is major damage noted, the insurance company should be notified as soon as communication is restored. Carefully follow the insurance company’s directions and keep detailed records and receipts as clean-up is being completed. Taking photos of the damage may help you in your communications with the insurance agent.
Rubbish and other debris that litters sidewalks, yards, and roadways must be removed. Broken branches from trees may still be dangling in the air from overhead so be careful to look upward before proceeding to clean up those particular areas.
Remove debris to the proper designated areas.
Be aware of fallen power lines that may be tangled in any branches or trees that have fallen and do not go near them. Conspicuously mark off that area so that no one approaches and is endangered. Fallen power lines are a life-threatening situation that must not be ignored. Call the power company immediately and let them know of the situation.
Repair what is damaged. (Check with your insurance company first. They will probably want to do an assessment before you begin this process.)
Check outdoor lighting, gutter systems, sprinkler systems, and fencing for damage.
Look at the roof to see if any shingles have been broken, cracked, or blown away. Don’t forget to check animal kennels or animal houses for structural damage.
Inside the home, be sure to check the ceiling for wet or damp spots indicating a possible roof leak. Feel around window sills and dry any wet areas where rain may have entered.
Replace what is necessary to be replaced. (Check with your insurance company first.)
Hopefully, there will be no major damage from the storm, but sometimes items do have to be replaced. It may be an area of the roof, an electrical appliance, or a broken window. Take care of these items as soon as possible.
Roofing, structural, and electrical systems are the areas that should be considered first. Deficiencies in these systems will cause additional damage or may even cause a home to be destroyed if not taken care of properly. Hire a professional to take care of needed assessments and repairs.
Taking the proper steps will bring order out of chaos.
The disorder caused by a storm may seem unsurmountable, but taking the proper steps in the proper order will bring order out of the chaos.
Storms brought on in our spiritual life may also seem chaotic. The disruption to our lives may cause us to want to throw our hands up in despair. However, we have a Heavenly Father who is able to bring order out of our chaotic lives. We should seek Him first before we do anything else.
We may need to seek God’s forgiveness, ask for His cleansing, or just praise Him that He is in control of our situation.
Know that storms are not always brought to us because of sin. But if sin has brought our trials to us, the proper place to lay our sins is at the feet of the only One who is able to cleanse us and forgive us and restore us to full fellowship with God our father. That One is Jesus Christ.
Life happens to everyone. Just ask the Lord what His will is for you during this time of unsettledness. Follow His guidance. Be obedient and follow His direction; it may be that He is getting ready to bring a great blessing into your life.
Assess the aftermath.
After any storm it is important to assess the aftermath. Yes, the insurance company will do an assessment, but you should also do your own.
List any and all damages.
Take an adequate assessment.
What was or will be the cost to repair the damages?
What will insurance cover? What will be your responsibilities and financial expenditures?
Where are the weak places? Are walls, floors, and roofs safe?
Was the first-aid kit adequate or does it need additional items?
Is my environment healthy at the moment? What will need to be done to prevent mold?
Are the remaining trees safely standing?
Are my neighbors okay? Especially be concerned for elderly neighbors.
Retain a resource list for future help during and after a future storm. These names and phone numbers may come in handy at a later time.
Just as we do after storms of nature, we also need to do an assessment of our spiritual lives after we have battled the storms that have attacked our minds and hearts.
Are we where we need to be with God?
How can we better prepare for the next crisis?
Did we have and are we continuing to have a strong devotional time each day?
Was and is our prayer life intact?
Are we in full fellowship with our Christian brethren? Do we have areas of unforgiveness and bitterness hidden in our hearts? Does restitution need to be made to anyone?
Have we allowed things that are not pleasing to God to creep in and distract us from doing His will?
Have we truly sought God for His assessment of our lives?
Prepare for the next storm.
After recovery from the storm, we must begin preparations for future storms that may come our way.
Look at yours and your insurance company’s assessments.
Ask yourself a variety of questions as you look at each item listed. These will help with your preparations for any future storms.
Why did the damage happen? Were any areas of danger overlooked? Have structures been maintained properly?
Have trees been planted, placed, or trimmed properly? Is there anything I could have done to minimize the damage?
Then begin to shore up the property where needed.
Store up extra supplies especially in areas where particular items were needed or depleted during the last storm.
Prepare for the future day when another storm will come.
Experiencing storms helps us to prepare for future storms. Do not take lightly the lessons that have been learned from previous storms. The safety of family members is of utmost importance. Take your assessment and prepare for that future day when another storm will come.
Recovery from spiritual storms may take moments or may take years depending upon the particular storm and our relationship with God.
Strengthen your spiritual life by attending church services, revival meetings, conferences, and Bible studies.
If you do not have a regular devotional time, begin one. Engage family members in this endeavor.
Prepare a place where you can pray without interruption. Spend some time meditating on and memorizing Scripture. Encourage your children and reward them for memorizing Scripture also.
Get professional Christian counseling if needed. Some storms require additional help. Do not be afraid or ashamed to seek this help if needed.
Job was prepared when the storm came his way. He was able to trust in God even though he had lost all physical possessions and all of his immediate family with the exception of his wife.
His thoughts may have questioned the reasons for the storm, but he did not question his salvation nor his future in heaven. He did not throw his hands up in despair, did not entertain thoughts of suicide, or retain bitterness against his friends.
However, the storm bought him closer to God than ever. He gained new knowledge of God and His attributes.
He also received blessings of restoration and encouragement from family and friends. To those around him, their perception of God was greatly changed.
Who knows how many people were and are still being changed because of the way that Job weathered the greatest storm that any man could endure.
Are you prepared for the storm? Are you prepared so that your testimony will remain in tact just as Job’s did?
Dusting off the dried clumps of sand from her face and hands, she began her trek in the direction of the rooftop when suddenly there was a deep voice from behind her.
Turning she saw a gray-haired man with a fishing pole and a bucket in his hand. “Good morning, Miss. Fine morning isn’t it? And where did you come from?”
“Are you all right?” he said as she suddenly fell backward. “You must be hurt. Here, let me help you.”
She had not previously noticed the dried blood that covered her right arm and leg. Nor could she have seen the bruising on her face and other parts of her ravaged body.
As if shaken out of a daze, she began to weep uncontrollably. Memory now came to remind her of things she could not now bear to remember.
“Here, here, let me help you! You mustn’t cry. I won’t harm you. Stay still now while I look at your arms and legs.”
She nodded affirmation although the tears just would not stop.
The gray-haired man patiently checked for cuts and broken bones.
“Well, my lady. You’ve got some nasty cuts and bruises. Hopefully, you have no broken bones, but I don’t want to run the risk of injuring you any further. Will you trust me to run to the house yonder and bring round a truck? I won’t be any longer than I have to, I promise.”
She lay back and rested. Finally, help had come. Maybe Providence was on her side.
“In my distress, I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.” 2 Samuel 22:7
We may ask why the journey of life had to take us down a particular path, why we were left alone to struggle through the waves of trials and temptations that sought to overcome us, and why it took us so long to get to a place of safety and respite.
Storms come as unwelcome disturbances in our lives.
Those disturbances present themselves in a variety of ways. They may consist of a ripple, a splash, a flood tide, or even a tidal wave.
When our vessels filled with the lower pressures of mediocrity, complacency, and sinful desires meet with the higher pressures of holiness, compassion, truth, and situations not of our choosing, struggles develop.
Our response to God’s trimmingmakes the difference as to whether our sails are filled with the wind and prosper spiritually or are ripped from their spars and toppled in defeat.
Sometimes our response of grasping on to whatever lies before us drowns those who are trying to liberate us from our muddy waters.
We resist the command of submission to someone else’s control and find ourselves drowning in despair.
It is when we look upward instead of downward that we catch a breath from God and see His hand reaching out in deliverance.
No matter how surprised we may be at the onslaught of the storm, we find that each disturbance does come with its own special blessing. Those individual blessings may be hidden at the moment, but they are there just the same.
We are strengthened as we struggle through the swelling waters and find that God is on the tip of every resounding wave, inviting us to come and walk with Him on the water.
We discover that His is the only Voice that has the power to calm the storm in our souls.
“[B]e not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:10).
After the storm we wake to find that the rubble in our lives has been loosed and carried far out to sea. If remnants remain, they are only there to remind us of our deliverance from that which sought to destroy us.
Our outlook is freshened and intensely set on things that are of greater importance than the mediocrity of the past.
Our vessels become known as seaworthy, able to withstand the storms of life, and able to lead others through troubled waters.
Why does it take us so long to get to a place of safety and respite?
It takes as long as it takes for us to realize that God is our Life Preserver, the Tugboat who draws us into His safe harbor and can give us calm waters in the midst of any storm.
It takes just as long as it takes for us to accept this truth.
And accepting Truth is how we survive the storms of life.
Suddenly she was awakened by the earth eroding underneath her. A loud roar sounded in her ears. Warmth surrounded and tugged at her body, slowly pulling her back into the sea from whence she had come.
She must resist its deadly grasp. Now awakened, she slowly began to pull herself forward once again. This time she was able to make progress although every movement caused her body to wreak with pain.
Finally, turning over on her backside, she let the sun shine fully on her face. The aching inside told her she must have help and soon.
“Help, I must have help,” she repeated to herself but her body gave way to fatigue before she could muster enough energy to cry out.
Once again the forces of nature or some power from above cried out to her. Seagulls screamed in increasing volume desiring some morsel of food as if to say, “Get up and give us,” but she had nothing left to give.
Startled, she was awakened to a new day. A new day in all its splendor. She embraced its warmth and drunk in its laughter. Birds sang cheerily and a butterfly fluttered about her head.
She reached out and touched one of its wings. It danced away toward the morning rays of sunshine and out of her sight.
What was that in the distance? Peeking out above the trees that lined the shore was a gray rooftop. She listened intently for sounds of life and heard dogs barking in the clearing just ahead.
Hope sprang up in her bosom even though she found herself struggling to get up from the ground.
Why does our journey of life take us down a particular path?
Why are we left alone to struggle through the dark waters of turbulent forces as they try to overcome us?
Overwhelmed by successive waves of circumstances beyond our control, our inclination is to grasp hold of whatever lies before us.
Human nature digs our fingers in deep and splits our fingernails in anxiety. We exert all our energies in resisting the forces of change.
Our first reaction is to turn back to the past, to that which we are familiar, until we are entrapped in its undercurrents. The old man gently tugs and teases, whispering in our ears his deceptive voice. He wishes to erode our faith. Our foundation of sand quickly vanishes away.
Panic sets in as we realize we cannot stand against these forces alone. The intensity of the storm obliterates our view. Blinded, we cannot see the shoreline just ahead. Moment by moment our strength weakens as the undertow pulls at us.
Crying out for deliverance, we strain to hear an answer. None is heard except that of the vultures as they rob us of that which we hold to be of value.
Yet, the voice of resistance is heard from somewhere deep inside reminding us that we must resist the temptation of giving in to that which wishes to destroy us.
Rays of hope peek through the dark clouds allowing faith to swell up in our hearts.
Hope then gives faith the surge that is needed to overcome the depths of our trials and preserve us from drowning in despair.
Hope befriends faith and says, “Believe. There is a tomorrow.”
He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters;
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.
They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the LORD was my stay.
Companies that produce educational curricula also produce a scope and sequence for their particular curriculum.
A scope and sequence gives information concerning new material being introduced, at what depth material will be taught, the sequence at which material is reviewed and built upon, and the level (grade) at which that material will be presented.
Why is a scope and sequence important?
Suppose that you have a child in a public or private setting and wish to home educate them. A scope and sequence from that particular school’s curriculum will let you know what has already been introduced to your child.
Also, suppose that your child struggled last year. Their grades may have been okay, but you realize that your child has not comprehended sufficiently what you feel needs to have been accomplished at this point. A scope and sequence will let you know what material was covered during the past year. Should any of that material be revisited? Probably so. Should areas of accomplishment be retaught? Probably not. This is where a scope and sequence is handy.
As you look at the scope and sequence of other curricula providers, you can see at what level any particular information is being introduced. If the information you are concerned about is being introduced at the next level (grade) of a particular curriculum you are considering, then you need not worry. It will be introduced to your child as if it had never been taught.
However, if it has already been introduced, you might need to do a reteaching of that particular introductory material before you move ahead. In this scenario, there is no need to reteach a whole level (grade) if there is only a gap in a particular portion.
How will a scope and sequence benefit me as a teacher at home?
The introduction of and type of subject matter varies from company to company. Different curriculum providers introduce new material at the level their particular authors and editors feel is appropriate. Requesting a scope and sequence from each company (or publisher) you are considering will give you an overview of material covered by each provider from preschool through high school.
Even if you choose not to use a particular company’s curriculum, you will benefit by seeing the different levels at which curriculum providers introduce new material. This is highly beneficial if you choose to do unit studies or deviate from a particular providers sequence.
During the high school years, some subjects are taught by courses. Those courses may be built around a particular topic instead of in a spiral pattern. For example, in the area of history, one course may center entirely on World History, while another course may center on a particular country’s history. Also, some courses may center on particular time periods.
If you were to decide to home educate your child during the high school years, you would not want to reteach a particular course that your child had already taken. In other words, if a child had taken World History at the ninth grade level, you would not want to reteach that same course at the tenth grade level unless there were problems with the previous course. Instead you would want to teach your country’s history. In this scenario, knowing the particular subject matter that your child has already been taught is very beneficial.
Different provider’s scope and sequences can also help you create your own scope and sequence for your particular situation.
Periodically reviewing your scope and sequence (at least at the beginning of each school year) can help you catch gaps before they occur and aid you in keeping on track as to your own goals for your child’s education.
Also, a scope and sequence can assist you in setting and attaining goals. Goals are what you wish for your child to learn academically before they are presented with that kindergarten, elementary, or high school diploma.
A scope and sequence can also be used as a checklist that lets you know where you have been and where you are going. In other words, your spot in the journey.
Your curriculum provider has a scope and sequence for each subject. Just ask for it when requesting information or when ordering catalogs. They should be happy to send you one.
I hope this information has been beneficial to you. If so, leave a comment. You may also leave suggestions for future posts.
Teach Facts Through a Variety of Learning Channels
Children absorb information through a variety of learning channels. Yet, each child has a particular channel through which he or she experiences greater learning. Therefore, it is important to know these channels and adapt the input that the child receives accordingly.
Access Every Channel of Learning
At the same time, for greater learning to take place, every channel should be accessed so that greater knowledge is received and retained. This will also help children exposed to different learning environments increase their competence when receiving information that is not presented in their unique learning styles.
The five senses of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting can help us remember the channels of learning as these are the pathways that God has given us to receive information.
Know the Different Learning Modalities
Children have a preferred style of learning. The tendency of a child to learn in a particular way that helps him or her best utilize the information received is called a modality.
There are six channels or modalities through which we receive information: visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, and kinesthetic. Do not allow the use of these words to confuse you. They simply refer to the senses that God has given us to learn.
The visual modality is the use of sight to receive information. Children preferring this style of learning enjoy material presented in a way that engages the sense of sight. The use of colors, posters, video, charts, live performances, and illustrated storybooks are this child’s favorite modes of learning.
They also love to read in quiet places. Noises detract and can lead to irritation. They usually prefer a neat desk and feel uncomfortable in cluttered places.
The auditory modality is the use of hearing to receive information. Children preferring this style of learning enjoy material presented in a way that engages the sense of hearing. This is the type of student that can learn through the use of lecture and audio materials.
Auditory learners love to talk and to listen. You may catch them reading aloud to themselves or humming their favorite tunes. They may also create rhymes or songs to remember special events or lists.
Oral drill of spelling words; historical, scientific, and mathematical facts; and other such vocal methods keeps this child engaged.
The tactile modality is the use of touch to receive information. Children preferring this style of learning enjoy material presented in a way that engages the use of their hands. The use of objects or manipulatives, textured papers, and special writing instruments helps this child to learn more effectively.
Hands-on projects, how-to presentations that involve the child’s assistance, and the use of models for explanation of concepts helps to keep this child engaged.
The olfactory modality is the use of smell to receive information. Children preferring this style of learning like to ‘smell the roses.’ However, they strongly react to environments where smells are not to their liking. When they enter a room, you may hear them comment on the ‘smells’ they sense.
The gustatory modality is the use of taste to receive information. Children using this modality become great taste testers. As children it seems everything ends up in the mouth. They love tastes, textures, and smells. They prefer to use scented markers to highlight important information and to develop projects that consist of a variety of smells.
A writing assignment may be filled with words which describe the smells encountered on a nature walk or the smells of foods experienced during a recent trip to the market or their favorite restaurant.
The kinesthetic modality is the use of movement to receive information. Closely related to the tactile modality, children embracing this style of learning prefer movement in opposition to sitting still. The handling of manipulatives also increases their absorption of facts.
Whether utilizing ‘jumping jacks’ to memorize math facts or clapping hands to the drilling of letters, these students love learning when it involves movement in any form. You will catch them doodling, fidgeting with their hands, and tapping the desk with their pencils.
Adapt Teaching Styles to Optimize Learning Experiences
The knowledge of these six learning modalities can help parents and teachers adapt their teaching styles in order to access the learning channels that children prefer to utilize when receiving information.
Adjust Teaching Plans to Create Variety
Preparing to utilize methods that employ every learning style will also create greater variety in the classroom. This makes for a better teaching and learning experience for both teachers and students.
As you make lesson plans for the upcoming week, I hope you will consider each of the six learning modalities and adjust your teaching plans accordingly.
A loud screeching sound jolted me out of bed this morning. I grabbed a flashlight as I went out the door and hurried to the chicken pen.
There I encountered an intruder inside the fence. I could not open the pen for fear the inhabitants would fly out and I would be spending the rest of my day trying to retrieve them.
Faced with the intruder, I found my weapon of choice would not work as it should. Tearing back to the house, I retrieved another weapon of choice.
Sadly, I had to work with this weapon for several minutes which allowed a clean getaway for the intruder, but not until he had devoured my beautiful black bannie rooster!
I searched diligently for the intruder but to no avail. How did he get into the pen? I thought that the double-layer fortified fencing was sufficient to deter any invading varmint, but not this sly devil.
He had obviously found a vulnerable spot somewhere and slid his white wirey-haired body through my fortification. There was no tear in the fence or any hole dug underground. Oh, he was a sly one for sure! He had to have crawled through an opening between the rafters.
Then I thought about how the demonic forces of Satan seek for the vulnerable places in our lives. Just when we think we have ourselves sufficiently covered by the armour of God, the evil one finds an area of vulnerability and seeks to devour his prey.
Yes, he is a sneaky one. Just as the intruder must have went to the top of the fence and climbed through an upper opening, Satan goes for the upper parts of the body. He seeks to invade our minds with his damaging thoughts. He taunts and rages in whispers and lies.
His teeth sink into our thought patterns and seeks to devour us with his unsavory words. We must be armed with a working weapon of choice.
That weapon of choice is the Word of God. God’s words will defeat the intruder’s attack upon our minds. But we must be ready! We must be armed with the Word! We may never have a second chance.