Jeff’s Hands

It was time for spring fair. The teachers had worked hard to line the halls with the artwork and projects of three- to five-year-old creative minds.

As I walked down the hall and through the door with my husband John, we were amazed at the quantity of work displayed.

“Wow,” I said, “if this is just preschool, wonder what it will be like when Jeff gets to school.”

“I was just thinking the same thing,” said wide-eyed John.

We passed mosaics made from six different kinds and colors of beans, frames made of popsicle sticks, and flowers made from cupcake papers. Then we came to a “quilt.” Each square was a piece of construction paper with a pair of tempera paint stamped hands on the quilt. No names or identifying marks were anywhere on the quilt.

“I wish they had written their names with their hands,” I said. “I’d like to know which square Jeff…” my voice trailed off as I pointed. “Look, John, there they are. Those are Jeff’s hands. Look his thumbs are just like my dad’s. And that crooked little finger. That’s one of the things I love about your hands.”

“That is pretty awesome, isn’t it? That we can pick our child’s hands out of all these squares. There must be at least thirty of them.”

We lingered to look at the quilt and the uniqueness of each handprint.

“You know, John,” I said, “I think that must be how it is when God looks down on all his children. He sees so many of us. But everyone is different and He recognizes our uniqueness at a glance.”

“That’s a pretty awesome thought.”

“I could just stand here and study this quilt all morning. I guess that’s the way God feels about all of us!”

Have you ever stopped to think how unique you are? Matthew 10:30 says “even the hairs of your head are all numbered.” And even though I recognized Jeff’s hands on the quilt, I am not sure of the exact number of hairs on his head.

 

Think about It:

1) Why would anyone want to take the time to know you so well that He even knows the number of hairs on your head? That is pretty close scrutiny! God knows us that well. He knows everything about us and He still loves us, warts and all! Thank Him for loving you despite your seemingly unlovable areas. Thank Him for bringing the two of you together and blessing your family.

2) Next time you are sitting around with your children, compare their hands. Compare them with yours. Compare them with each other. Find specific characteristics of their hands that make them uniquely who they are. If you can identify a family characteristic, tell them about the person who shares that characteristic. Remind each child of his or her uniqueness.

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What Kind of Reader Are You?

I have heard most readers spend eight to ten seconds looking at the outside of a book before they decide to move on or look inside. Have you ever stopped to think what draws you to one book over another? Perhaps it is your personality.

As a strong melancholy purposeful personality, my preference often gravitates to covers that are to the point so I know what I am getting inside the book. I want it to have value for me and satisfy my thirst for knowledge. The colors are probably subdued without a lot of splash. Why does that appeal to me?

The purposeful, melancholy personality is curious about the world around him or her. The desire to go deeper when reading about subjects is often present. This no-nonsense reader doesn’t want to have to wade through the fluff but wants the information to be complete and enlightening. A purposeful, melancholy reader searching for a novel to read may look for one with intrigue or settle on a romance with lots of family history and backstory. He or she may become so engrossed in a book and forsake other duties to read.

While it may appear that those with playful, sanguine personalities are not avid readers, they love a good story. In fact, they can spin a yarn with the best! But in order to captivate this group of readers the storyline must move along quickly and the action must be plentiful. Drawn to bright, cheerful, fun covers, if the words do not match the excitement of the cover, the book will probably join others on his or her book shelf that are half read! Fiction is the genre of choice for this playful, sanguine personality who is so easily distracted.

My friend who is a very powerful choleric personality is even more matter of fact with her choices. The covers that appeal to her are not obscure but give concise information as to what is in the book. For the choleric personality a bulleted list is sure to please her and promise to give her information in a way she can understand and catalogue in her storehouse of knowledge. A powerful choleric novel reader looks for intrigue and mystery, a story he or she can actively participate in and solve.

Observing the reading habits of the peaceful, phlegmatic personalities, they are drawn to books that have calm and inviting covers with promise of a peaceful getaway. This low-key personality loves to settle in the hammock with a good book that will entertain and give him or her an escape from the hustle and bustle of the world. Books are a perfect gift for this personality.

Is it really important to understand personalities? Does it really matter why you pick up one book or another or why you are drawn to one genre?

The answer to the first question is an overwhelming “yes!” Understanding who you are and why you act and feel the way you do gives you the freedom to be yourself.

For example, for years Charlotte attended social functions with her husband’s work group. Her husband loved these occasions and started looking forward to the next one as soon as the current one ended. But Charlotte dreaded the crowd, the noise, the frivolity, and pretense of enjoyment. Usually she found a safe spot and camped there until her husband Doug was ready to go home.

When Charlotte discovered a book that outlined the personalities and learned she was a purposeful, melancholy personality and that was the way God made her, it gave her the freedom to be herself. She relinquished the pressure of having to smile and be a social butterfly. She understood that she, too, could enjoy that type of event. She just needed to find one friend to converse with at a time and enjoy the time with that person. If she didn’t know anyone in the group, she came to the party prepared with one or two good questions to start a conversation. It didn’t take long to find common ground with an acquaintance.

Charlotte says, “Understanding the personalities changed my life. Not only did it free me to be me, it made me realize that my personality type can be somewhat judgmental. So I began to be more lenient with other personalities. Even though I don’t have to be like them, I can understand them better which frees me to love them more.”

What about you? Are you like Charlotte who has struggled to figure out who you are and how you fit in? Have you traveled through life wondering why everyone else seems so different? Can you identify with Charlotte’s purposeful, melancholy side and need to “lighten up” on yourself and others?

Or maybe you are like the playful, sanguine reader who would love any social function? In fact, if there is not a party going on somewhere he or she is likely to create one! Understanding that your fun-loving nature is the way God made you frees you to enjoy it and work on the other things that may not come so easily like organization and completing your tasks.

Powerful, choleric personalities may realize that their list-making and leadership skills are not a bad thing, however they just may need to be tempered with a little understanding for those who are of different personalities. The ability to get a job done is a positive thing when softened with kindness and compassion.

Our peaceful, phlegmatic friends are to be envied. They are content with the world and adaptable to whatever goes on around them. They would really enjoy Charlotte’s party. It is the effort to get there that is overwhelming. Understanding their calm perspective often earns the peaceful phlegmatic the label of lazy but they are not usually lazy at all. They just enjoy calmness!

Having the knowledge of the personalities is a tool that can make a difference in your relationship with others and with God. Certified Personality Trainer Tama Westman says, “Understanding the personalities is like a superpower. Being aware of what a person’s emotional needs are based on his or her personality, transforms your communication skills. You understand how you are perceived and how others receive information. You live more in tune with family and friends because you know why they walk and talk as they do. Personality knowledge made me realize God made me just as I was and He delighted in His creation.”

So the next time you visit the bookstore, what will interest you? Will you look at a cover with a catchy title and realize you like that because you are a playful personality? Will you see the purposeful person next to you drawn to the muted cover of a different book? Or perhaps a powerful person studying the list of features and benefits on the back cover of a book that interests him or her. Will you find a peaceful person intrigued by the storyline?

No matter what your personality, there are plenty of books to choose from that will encourage, entertain, and enrich your life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back to School Prayers

Now that school is back in session, we don’t have as much time with our children. But we can join them in spirit through our prayers. Here are a few prayer suggestions for when your children head out to school.

Dear God,

Bless my little preschooler.  She seems so tiny. Why, that backpack seems as big as she is.  Help her to feel loved and not miss Mommy and Daddy too much.  I hope she tells them that she doesn’t like ice in her snack drink or that she only likes to lay on her pink towel with her head on the flower end.

 

Dear God,

Bless my kindergartner.   He is so confident and self-assured.  He can’t wait to get to “school” every day.  Prepare him academically for first grade.  Most of all continue to prepare him for life.  May each one of his teachers share some aspect of your love with him in a way that will last a lifetime.

 

Dear God,

I can’t believe he’s in first grade.  Why was it so hard to watch him walk up those steps and into that great, big building?  Will he ever be able to find his way around?  I don’t think anyone saw me get the tissue box from under the seat.  First grade separation anxiety is really painful, especially for me!

 

Dear God,

.Junior high starts today.  I guess you know that.  Why did she think that she had to wear makeup? She’s so beautiful and sweet and pure just the way You made her.  Give me the wisdom to know how to guide her.  She doesn’t seem to think I know much these days.  Protect her.

 

Dear God,

High school is so big.  He drives himself to school these days.  I liked it better when I could sit in the car and watch him walk safely into the building.  His classes are getting harder.  He really likes math.  And computer.  Guide him as he deigns to focus his studies in certain areas.  College will be coming up so soon.  Open doors of opportunity for him to walk through.

 

Dear God,

That first day when I watched him walk into elementary school, it seemed like college was a long way off.  And now he is at college.  There were so many things that I wanted to say to him after we unloaded the car.  But every word caught in my throat.  Why couldn’t I at least say goodbye?  And I kissed him so fast.  I just didn’t trust my emotions, though.  I knew if I blubbered in front of his roommates he would be embarrassed.

Keep him safe, God.  There is so much more freedom now that he is living away from home.  He may meet his life’s partner in this college campus.  Lord, I have prayed so long for her.  Bless him, God, as he prepares for a life’s vocation.  More than the vocation, bless him with a burning desire to serve You in all he does.  You are so faithful.  And we love you.

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The Value of Writers Conferences

This weekend was a fun time interacting with writers and publishers at the Write2Ignite conference. I hadn’t been to a conference in several months and had forgotten what an encouragement and inspiration it was to be with other writers. The conference team did a great job of organizing and providing a wonderful conference. I enjoyed the fellowship, worship, and reconnecting with other writers.

I was reminded of the tremendous value in hanging out with fellow writers. Only writers understand other writers. Only another writer can know what the writers life is like and can empathize with another writer. Everyone needs encouragement whether we are writers, editors, publishers, or another occupation far removed from the publishing industry.

Have you wished for some fellowship or encouragement with other writers? You can find it at the Carolina Christian Writers Conference at First Baptist Church in Spartanburg, SC, April 19-20. Great fellowship will be accompanied by many workshops, a brainstorming session with genre groups, and a keynote speech by Jack Countryman from Thomas Nelson Publishers. Want to know more? Visit www.fbs.org/writers. And while you are there, register so you join other writers and benefit from these information-packed two days.

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FOUND!

   In the last post I passed along a plea from a fellow writer to locate the identity of the homeless man, Willard Parker, on the front of her book, Unexpected Christmas Hero. After only a couple of months, someone showed the picture to a lady who did not know where her father was, asking, "Isn’t that your dad?"

   The lady joyfully contacted the author, Kathi Macias, and confirmed that the model on the cover of the book was, indeed, her dad. They are in the process of being reunited. What a blessed Thanksgiving miracle!

   Will you join me in praying blessings on this family reunion?

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Help Reunite a Family!

The article below is a plea for help to find the family of the man on the cover of this book. Won’t you join Kathi Macias, author, and others to help give this Christmas Hero an unexpected blessing this Christmas?

This is the cover for my (Kathi Macias)  2012 Christmas novel, Unexpected Christmas Hero, releasing from New Hope Publishers in mid-October. It is a story about a family (mother and two small children) who become homeless when their husband/father dies unexpectedly and leaves them in terrible financial straits. The family is befriended by a homeless Vietnam vet who becomes their “unexpected Christmas hero,” despite his own precarious position. I just learned from my publisher that the man on the cover (Willard Parker) truly is homeless but graciously agreed to pose for this photo. He told the photographer that he is separated from his family and would like very much to be reunited with them (particularly his grown daughter). So I thought about all you wonderful blog followers and social networking friends and decided, Why not band together and try to make this happen for Mr. Parker? I am posting the story from the photographer below so you can see how Mr. Parker ended up on the cover. If you recognize/know Mr. Parker and/or have any information about his family, please leave a comment here with your contact information or email me at ezyrtr@ca.rr.com. Meanwhile, please pass this information along to anyone you can–via your own blogs, social networks, email loops, whatever way possible to help get the word out. Let’s make this go viral and bring this family back together!

Story from photographer/designer:

We (designer and photographer Michel Lê and spouse Christine) were Christmas vacationing in Asheville, NC.

I had Kathi’s book cover to design and needed photos of homeless people. Christine remembered seeing homeless people under some bridge in town. I grabbed my camera and off we went.

After unsuccessfully circling around for an hour, I decided to call it off and head back.

That’s when God told Christine to persevere, and to go in a different part of town. And there he was, Willard Parker, the perfect physical representation (in my opinion) of Kathi’s Unexpected Christmas Hero‘s main character. We stopped the car and asked him if he was homeless and willing to pose for a few photos, after explaining to him the book story.

Willard said yes and was very accommodating. While driving to a suitable place for the photos, Willard offered us a glimpse of his life. He lost his house a few years back. He has a daughter somewhere north (maybe Detroit?) whom he lost touch. Willard also believes in our Lord Jesus Christ.

We had a sense of great sadness in his life, that it didn’t turned out the way he hoped for. WIllard had a very humble and kind spirit. But we sensed a quiet yet powerful sparkle and desire for life. He longed to see his daughter, and we felt how hard that would be for him in his present situation. He is basically illiterate as I found out (when I asked him to read and sign the Model Release).

I wanted to buy him lunch in a restaurant but he politely declined (maybe for fear of not being “part of the crowd”). We gave him some money and left, with a heavy heart and deeply moved.

While designing the cover, I prayed that the one with him would be chosen (there were others being considered), so I could send him a few copies, that in turn he could send one to his daughter (assuming we locate her). I prayed that God would make this happen, that He would flood his daughter with new love for her dad after seeing him on a book cover, that she would be proud of him, that she would have a great desire to reunite with him, just like we long to reunite in love with our Father. I hoped and prayed for it to happen. It would be the greatest Christmas gift of all for Willard.

Then the cover with Willard was chosen and the author decided to launch a campaign to find Willard’s family and reunite them. Thank You, God! We hope/pray that many of you will join us to spread the word. Sooner or later, someone out there will recognize Williard’s picture and/or name and know how to contact his family. Thank you all for being part of this! Now let’s get to work and see what God can do!!!

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Interview with Janice Hanna Thompson

Today’s guest is Janice Hanna Thompson. Not only does she give a great interview but she is offering her latest book, Make Money Writing, to us. For this week, March 12-17, her book is a free kindle download. Just follow the instructions here and enjoy learning from Janice.

Welcome, Janice. Can you tell us about your latest venture?

Thanks for having me. I’m thrilled to share about my latest book, MAKE MONEY WRITING, which is now available from amazon for kindle users. The book, which is loaded with helpful hints for freelancers, is free from March 12th – March 17th. After that, it will sell for $4.49.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your writing experience?

Sure! I write under the names “Janice Thompson” and “Janice Hanna.” I just signed contract #79 (For QUEEN OF THE WAVES) and have written in a variety of genres, including romance, historical, contemporary, cozy mystery, juvenile fiction, non-fiction and more. I’m best known for my light-hearted contemporary novels and for my quirky characters. I’m pretty passionate about writing, and even more passionate about helping others discover their writing talents and abilities. For the past seven years I’ve worked as a full-time freelancer, earning my living with my books, teachings, articles, and write-for-hire work.

Why did you decide to write this book?

For several years now I’ve divided my time between freelance writing and teaching. So many aspiring writers discover that I’ve published several books and they come to me to ask the inevitable, “How do I get published?” question, usually followed by, “Is there really money to be made in publishing?” Over the past couple years I’ve put together several freelance writing courses to answer their questions, but I felt the need to do more, so I compiled all of my mini-teachings into one book.

Will readers get all of the same materials they would get in one of your courses?

No, the courses are very specific to their individual topics. MAKE MONEY WRITING covers a variety of areas of interest to the freelance writer, including: earning top dollar, magazine article writing, write-for-hire work, writing the novel and/or non-fiction book, the submission process, succeeding as a freelancer, and more. The book is not a textbook. Instead, it is motivational in tone and focuses on offering encouragement to freelancers and giving them basic tips for success in each of the areas listed above.

Can you tell us a little more about the book?  

Sure! It might make more sense to share some of the chapter titles because they will give you an idea of some of the topics readers will find in the book.

Earning Top Dollar

Jumping the Hurdles

In the Beginning. . .the Writer Set Goals

What Industry Pros are Saying about Goal-Setting

Write. . .for Hire!

Revolutionize Your Writing

Girls Just Wanta Have Funds

Double Your Word Count in Two Weeks

Cash in on Magazine Articles

Sync Up

Freelance Lingo

Stop, Drop and Roll (Adding the Crisis Scene)

From Mii to Wii (learning how to incorporate the “we” factor)

Make ‘Em Laugh

Elevating Your Elevator Pitch

Seven Days to Better Writing

Five Things a Writer can Learn from American Idol

Got Moxie?

Becoming a Public Speaker

Writers are from Mars, Readers are from Venus

. . .and much, much more!

What other projects are you working on?

I’m currently writing QUEEN OF THE WAVES, a novel set aboard the Titanic. Very compelling story, I must say! And I’m tickled about my upcoming release, Wedding Belles.

You mentioned your courses. Can you tell us what’s going on in that world?

Yes, thanks for asking. I’m tickled about the recent release of my Non-Fiction Writing Course. I recorded this course in the studio several months ago and had a blast doing it. I’m convinced this is the most comprehensive package I’ve ever put together. Non-Fiction writers should be able to take this course and find some degree of success building their platform, writing short pieces and fully developing a non-fiction book. There’s even information on how to pitch (and ultimately market) the non-fiction book.

Here are the ten topics within the course:

From Magazines to Books: Building Your Platform

Understanding Non-Fiction Book Types

Best Selling Topics

Compiling Your Information (Braiding the Book)

33 Tips to Strengthen Your Writing

Incorporating Fiction Techniques in Your Non-Fiction

The Submission Process

Making the Sale (Includes all aspects of the contract/sale/edits/production)

Marketing Your Book

How to Stay in the Game

As with all of my courses, this one is available online at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. 

How can readers get the free kindle book?

They can follow this link to amazon: http://amzn.to/yBeVBh. The book will be free from March 12th – March 17th and will revert to is usual $4.49 price after that.

Janice, how can readers reach you?

I love to chat with my readers! To learn more about my books, visit:

www.janicehannathompson.com

To learn more about my writing courses, including my new non-fiction course, visit:

www.freelancewritingcourses.com

Facebook: JaniceHannaThompson

Twitter: booksbyjanice

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Equipping Others for Peaceful Living

Romans 12:18  “If it is possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

If we are true to that verse, we cannot be selective in practicing it. Neither can we limit ourselves to equipping others through our Personality Training seminars. We must be available to train people in the church, workplace, educational arenas, and more.

While I was judging a literary meet at a local school, one of the administrators stopped by to chat. She mentioned a problem in one of the classrooms.

“You know what you need?” I asked.

Surprised by the promise of help, she responded, “No what?”

 “Your teachers need the Personality Training. If they understood some of the basics of how their students think, they could help them learn more effectively.”

A week later I received an invitation to be the guest speaker on the subject of the Personalities at the next teacher inservice day.

Over 75 educators came into the room. Most chatted excitedly. A few melancholies and phlegmatics sat quietly waiting for time to begin. But the air in the room was full of expectancy.

We had a great time of learning and fun. Each time I gave a specific classroom situation to analyze, there were snickers and whispers of “I have him in my class” or “That’s exactly the way she does her assignments.”

Since that time I have been asked to come back to that school and teach the same thing to the entire senior class!

Not too long ago I received a phone call from the Director of my church’s Newlywed Sunday School class.

“Could you teach the Personalities to our class in November? I think it would be such a blessing for them to have this information as they start out together.”

Hmmm. Hadn’t thought about teaching Personalities in Sunday School but why not? What a sensible use of our time in God’s house understanding how He made us and how we can best “live at peace with everyone.”

These were wonderful Sunday mornings with fifteen-twenty precious couples. Grins were exchanged, eyes rolled, and elbows constantly poked spouses’ ribs as these newlyweds confirmed how God had brought them to complement and complete each other.

An email from one of the school administrators recently said, “Since you left, there is a sweet buzz around campus about our personalities and how we can minister to each other and our students.”

Isn’t that what we should be doing no matter where we teach the Personalities? We should equip others to create a happy buzz of loving and understanding those around them so they can, as much as it is up to them, live at peace.

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Understanding Your Personality Makes a Difference

Understanding yourself and those around you can make a tremendous difference in your relationships and your writing.

Hippocrates first labeled the four personality types with words that are still used today. The sanguine personality is the happy, playful person. They dress to be noticed. When you attend a party, you immediately notice the sanguines – they are the life of the party. The melancholy person is also known as purposeful, introspective, and dedicated. At a party you will find the melancholies away from the action, possibly engaged in deep conversation with one individual. He or she may also be content to sit quietly and enjoy observing those around. The choleric individual will probably be involved in group settings in some way. They enjoy short conversations but prefer to keep things moving toward the goal of the gathering. If need be, they can help with that by taking charge. The phlegmatic person loves to be around people but can tire easily of high energy gatherings.

Why does personality make such a difference? Usually our expectations are for people to react and enjoy things just the way we do. But with four distinct personalities in the world, rarely is there a gathering of more than two people that would include only one personality. And no matter what the program, entertainment, or topic of conversation every personality will interpret it differently.

It is so helpful for those involved in groups to understand how other react. Group dynamics work much smoother and relationships grow through that understanding.

For example, our extended family is made up of all four personalities. When there is a family crisis, this is what happens.

The cholerics immediately begin to make a checklist of what we need to do to fix it.

The melancholies handle the emotional side of things, comforting those involved, organizing prayer chains, and doing the practical things.

The sanguines are, as always, glad to have a group of people around. Being very tenderhearted, they want to console and help even though they are sometimes easily distracted.

The phlegmatics tend to withdraw. If we give them a specific assignment, they rise readily to the task and do an excellent job.

You can see from above, that some of all those things is needed in time of  crisis. God knew what He was doing when He made us all different. But sometimes we need to realize that everyone is not like us. It is up to us to love each other for who they were created to be and not try to make them fit into our personality mold.

As writers, we need to keep in mind that our readers are from all personality types. So we need to vary our style so that we reach sanguine, melancholy, choleric, and phlegmatic readers with the message God has given us.

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Multiply Your Ministry through Mentoring

            When our children learned to walk, they imitated what they saw going on around them. Often a close adult took them by the hand and encouraged them to take just a few more steps.

            But the stairs were different. In order to be safe, we wanted them to continue to sit down or slide down on their tummies. And, hard as we tried, these cute tiny people didn’t understand our explanation. So I sat at the top of the stairs with the current toddler in my lap and said, “Watch Daddy!”

            My husband patiently demonstrated how to turn around down on all fours, push with his hands, and safely slide down the stairs. 

            When Dad got back up to the top of the steps, he again got down on all fours. Our toddler crawled down from my lap, turned around and did exactly what his daddy had just done. Together they slid slowly and carefully down the steps.

            When I began writing over two decades ago I was in a similar predicament. I wanted to know how to write and needed to learn how to do it the correct way. So what did I do? I looked around to see how other people were succeeding in the writing business and I looked for someone to show me the way.

            At that time resources were scarce and writers conferences were not plentiful. I read every current book I could find but there were not many.  A new writers conference was organized in Florida and I attended at the invitation of my neighbor. I never knew anything like that existed. The entire conference was full of writers who loved the Lord and wanted to write for Him just like me! Friendly editors genuinely cared whether or not my writing dream was realized.

            At that conference God had my writing path cross with Sandy Brooks. Sandy was such an encourager. She knew I needed encouragement and direction. She provided it without ever making me feel like a rookie. She offered instruction and answers to my questions. Most of all, she became my lifelong friend.

            I still have my meager first attempts at writing devotions. They have Sandy’s profuse green markings on them, showing me how to make them stronger and explaining why what I had written would not work. In the beginning I felt like there was way too much green on those pages. But as I read her wisdom and realized her intent was to make me a better writer, I appreciated the way she came alongside me and mentored me right into being a writer. As the years went on and our friendship grew, she continued to model to me what a committed, godly writer looked like.

            Ron Benson and Lee Warren are mentoring writers every year through the On Ramp program at the CLASS Christian Writers Conference. For six hours before the conference begins, they have an all-day workshop so that the attendees can get the most out of the conference.

            The 2010 CLASS Christian Writers Conference introduced the book project. For one hour each morning, attendees were in small groups with a professional writer/facilitator. Many of those group times produced lasting relationships as knowledge and the benefit of experience passed from one person to another. Another project result was the beautiful book, Out of the Overflow.           

Esther Burroughs says, “Mentoring…means using the best part of yourself to help another see and be the best that they can be.” 

            Whether writing, speaking, or teaching grandchildren to go up and down the stairs God is pleased when we take what we have learned and pass it on to someone else. And in coming along side and partnering with others along the way, we multiply our own ministry through the ministry of others.

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