Four Tips to a Great Book

Craft a great story.

Publish your accomplishment.

Keep me coming back for more.

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 dead are 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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.

Sacrifices to Be Thankful for This Thanksgiving

Sacrifices Not to be Forgotten

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.

So many unknown who gave so much.
Cross Grave Marker of Unknown

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?

Detective Work an Author Can Appreciate

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.

Check details carefully.
Check details carefully.

Observe details.

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.

Broken glass photo
Evidence of broken glass

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 the sequence correct?
Is the sequence correct?

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?

Empty picture hanger
What’s missing?

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 related to 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?

Get others to review your writing.
Get others to review your writing.
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.



Confronting Cultures of Darkness

Confronting Cultures of Darkness

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. 

Stitches Well-Placed, Devotional

Stitches Well-placed, Devotional

Stitches of Prevention

“A stitch in time saves nine” is a famous maxim.

In this world of troubled souls, a few stitches might help to prevent some of those frazzled places that develop in men’s hearts.

A few well-placed ones can stop a tear before it completely destroys a soul.

But waiting until a gaping hole develops may require replacement of parts that we hold dear. These holes require many stitches to repair.

Christmas stocking
My aunt’s loving stitches from many years ago

Stitches of Repair

Mending a broken heart or encouraging a depressed soul may require a variety of stitches. These stitches are especially helpful when administered by those who have experienced them themselves.

Some may need to touch the hem of His garment.

Some may need to highlight an important part.

Some may need to surround a weak section.

Some may need to open a place for connection.

Some are long, some are short, depending upon the need.

Stitches for Fellowship, crochet doily
Stitches for Fellowship

Stitches to Meet the Need

Maybe you know of some other stitches that can mend broken souls. This is just a short list. However, no stitch is of any value until it is applied to the recipient.

  • Stitches of hope
  • Stitches of grace
  • Stitches of encouragement
  • Stitches of mercy
  • Stitches of kindness
  • Stitches of love
  • Stitches of joy
  • Stitches of peace
  • Stitches of patience

The best ones though, are placed just in time.

quilted jacket
Quilted stitches give warmth to a jacket

Maybe it’s needful for us to do a little mending today.

What stitches do you need to work on?

Do you know how to sew?
Who was it that taught you?
Is there a certain garment or craft that you enjoyed working on more than others?
Are you passing your gift on to others?

Maybe you would like to add some stitches to the list above. Just leave your stitches in the comment box below.

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Tackling the Storms of Life, Devotional

Tackling the Storms of Life


How to Tackle the Storms of Life

Know the storm is coming.

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.

Storm clouds over river
Clouds Bringing Expected Storm

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.

Blue skies after a snowfall
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?

What serious storms have you experienced?
What did you learn during those storms?
Did the storms change you in any way?

First Step in Homeschooling Your Children

First Step in Homeschooling


So, you’re contemplating homeschooling your children. Does the thought bring butterflies to your stomach?

Are you asking yourself questions?

  • What?
  • Where?
  • How?
  • Why?

All of these questions and more will fill your mind in the days ahead.

  • Can I do this?
  • What if I make a mistake?
  • What will other people think?

Yes, you can homeschool.

Yes, you will make mistakes. We all do. We’re human, but we learn from them and continue onward.

We gain knowhow by taking one step at a time — precept upon precept, line upon line.

Yes, other people will think. But before they have the chance to tell you their opinions, have your own reasons as to why you will (or will not) do homeschooling settled in your own mind.

And that is the one question you will have to answer for yourself.

  • Why?
Decision Making

Everyone will give you reasons why you should or should not homeschool. However, you must realize that this is your decision.

  • Write down your own thoughts for desiring to homeschool.
  • Add to your thoughts a list of reasons that you feel are supportive.
  • Think through this process carefully and prayerfully.

By expressing yourself in writing as to your reasons, you have taken the first and most important step in homeschooling.

  • Why is the question that when answered will anchor you through any difficulties you may face after you have made your decision.
  • The reasons why will also be your prepared response to any who would desire to challenge your decision to homeschool.

Devotional: Surviving the Storms of Life #3

The Storms of Life, continued

©2016 Peggy Clark

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.

Unwelcome Disturbances

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.

Uncertain Responses

Our response to God’s trimming makes 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.

Special Blessings

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.

Special Truth

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.

© 2016 Peggy Clark

Peggy Clark is also 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. 
Ask for it at your local Christian retailer or order online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers.

Devotional: Surviving the Storms of Life #2

The Storms of Life, Continued
©2016 Peggy Clark

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.

2 Samuel 22:17-19

To be continued.

©2016 Peggy Clark

Peggy Clark is author of the Bible study, So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome published by WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan. Ask for it at your local Christian retailer or purchase online.