The Music of Words

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I’m a musician. I play keyboard instruments mainly. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of using my talents to entertain audiences, to minister as organist and choir director for two different churches, to help facilitate weddings and funerals for scores of families, to compose and orchestrate numerous songs, and to teach others to use their gifts and talents to bless the world with music from their own keyboards.

These days I rarely sit down to a musical keyboard. Instead, I’m nearly glued to the kind of keyboard that is attached to a desktop or laptop computer. For,  you see, I’m also a writer. Now, some people feel that I have left music behind as I’ve devoted so much of myself to the writing. But you know what?  I’ve discovered a truth that, ten years ago, I may not have even thought about:

I’ve discovered that music — true music — doesn’t come from a keyboard on a piano, an organ, or an accordion. Nor does it come from a horn, a guitar, a violin, or any other instrument. On the contrary, music comes from the soul. It’s the melody, the harmony, and the rhythm of life that courses through our beings and finds its release through any number of avenues. Frequently, it is released through instruments constructed for that specific purpose, but the music of the soul is also released through words.

I find that I’m releasing the music of my soul constantly as my fingers whisk over the letter keys of my laptop. I’m letting all those melodies, harmonies, and rhythms of life course through me to touch every reader. And when those readers are touched, my words create emotions, thoughts, actions, and reactions as surely as the strains of sound vibrating from a piano or a horn. I’m calling to and capturing the soul of the reader as surely as the chords from a guitar call and capture the soul of the listener.

It is not the instrument that creates the music. In truth, the music is created from the deepest part of our being and simply seeks an avenue — any avenue — of expression. So, personally, I believe I am offering music to the world through the words that flow from my soul onto the page as surely as I have offered it in the past from the keyboard that sent forth vibrations of sound.

So, my fellow writers — let your music flow.


 

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BRAND NEW!!! Holiday Planning Journal

HOLLY JOLLY RESIZED

YAY! My HOLLY JOLLY HOLIDAY PLANNING JOURNAL IS READY FOR YOU!

Holiday planning and organizing has never been SO EASY.
This planner includes sections for Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, and the coming New Year.

Complete with Scriptures and Journaling Pages for recording Personal Thoughts and Prayers, this planner also includes plenty of room to plan out Decorations, Activities, Guest Lists, Travel Arrangements, Recipes, Gifts Lists, Online Orders, Storage Plans, and New Year’s Expectations.

Handy 6 x 9 size, soft cover: $6.00

Available from Amazon at this link.

OR

From me if you live in the Southern Illinois area.

We Have Our Own ‘Homing Device’

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO - edited
San Juan Capistrano Mission Photo by Jon at pdphoto.com

In the early morning of October 23 — just 11 days from today — thousands of swallows will lift off the grounds of the San Juan Capistrano mission, circle the mission once, and begin their pre-scheduled 7500-mile flight back to their home city of Goya, Argentina. They will have spent 7 months at the mission, enjoying the warm climate and excellent food — and offering their share of the work to keep the eco-system in its proper balance — particularly by destroying about a billion insects. But it will be time to go home, and those swallows will not fail to leave at exactly the appointed moment.

Their visit to the centuries-old California mission began in Goya at dawn on February 18 — as it has every February 18 for at least the past 200 years.  They arrived at Capistrano on March 19 — as they have for at least 200 years — and, yes, all the mission bells did ring, just as Leon Rene’s 1940’s song says.  There is a great celebration at the mission every year, and thousands of people turn out to welcome the birds to their summer home.  All events are planned well ahead of time because there is absolutely no doubt that these lovely swallows will be right on time.

Argentinian magazine correspondent Enrique Bermudez, who writes for Para Todos Magazine, has made a thorough study of the swallows. He says they fly most of their 7500 mile journey at an altitude of 6600 feet and fly at a speed of 18 miles per hour. His research shows that swallows are masters at following a flight plan that takes advantage of every favorable wind. And somehow, in spite of all kinds of unpredictable natural events, they arrive exactly at the appointed time on March 19, year after year after year. How awe-inspiring is that?

Well, it must be pretty inspiring for the majority of people because the event has been immortalized in word and song for decades now. Unfortunately most people any distance away cannot be present to celebrate the event, but most all of us have the privilege of witnessing a similar miracle right in our own back yards if we care to take notice. Most of us have “closer-to-home” birds that migrate north and south at exactly the right time every year — returning at the same appointed time when the seasons change.  In my neck of the woods, the most prominent migratory birds are the geese, and their v-shaped flight patterns make designs across our skies for several weeks each fall as they follow their God-given homing devices to their places of winter refuge.

And so it is in every little burg and hamlet across the planet. Then when spring pops out from under winter’s blanket, ducks, geese, and birds of various sorts find themselves on the move again, and without fail, all the members of each species of bird know exactly where they are going. Just like the Capistrano swallows, they all have this built-in guidance system that we call “instinct.”  It’s an internal radar, given to them by their Creator, that doesn’t fail to take them exactly where they need to go: south in the winter, north in the summer, and even to the highest rafters of the crumbling mission at San Juan Capistrano.

But what about us?  People.  Do we have our built-in homing device turned on?  Is it keeping us focused on our perfect destination? No matter what the season in our lives, our perfect place of safety and fulfillment is always the same place: The Almighty, Eternal, Living God.

What time is it in your life? Is it time to migrate to a new place in your spiritual walk? Do you find yourself feeling the need to live on a higher plane? Or is it getting a little dark and cold where you are now, causing you to long for more warmth and light and nourishment?

Well, the Word of God makes it clear that we each have a built-in homing device with its own internal radar. That Word tells us that we do not have to “anxiously look about us,” trying to find our path. (Isaiah 41:10). All we have to do is set our hearts on the one who created that homing device. (Prov. 3:6).  And even more directly, we are told that we will find Him through Jesus Christ, who is “the way” into the heart of that Creator. (John 14:6).

Do you have your radar zeroed in on the almighty God of the universe? If so, you have a fantastic journey ahead of you.  If not, maybe this changing season is a good time to make an adjustment.




 

Weekly Smile 9/23/19

SMILEY -- NO CIRCLE - BLACK & WHYay!  I’m making time to do the “Weekly Smile” this week. If you’d like to join in and share what made you smile this past week, hop over to the link and get the simple directions for taking part.

I actually had a number of things to smile about this past week. One special event was getting this term’s Biblical Pathways to Health & Wholeness class underway at the college where I teach. I always enjoy teaching that class so much because it helps people understand what God’s Word says about healing and how much the Lord wants His people well. And it helps them learn how to appropriate that healing for their own lives.

Then I also got my new HOLIDAY PLANNER/JOURNAL started this week. I’ve been collecting my thoughts, so to speak, about this newest project for some time now. And, to be honest, I’ve sort of put off actually sitting down to my computer and laying out the design on the screen. It’s rather daunting when I think of all that I want to include in it.

I’ve done other themed journals, but they didn’t have to incorporate planner pages and special sections for different kinds of plans and activities. And, of course, most of my books over the past several years have simply required ordinary text and a front and back cover. That’s so much easier to do than all this graphic designing. But once I made up my mind that it was time to do this thing, I committed myself to it whole-heartedly. So — onward and upward. And this week, I actually got through a large portion of the layout and hit “Save.”  Yay!

On top of that event, I also received a gift of two huge family-size packages of chocolate cookies!!!  Now, if you’re a regular visitor to my website, you’ll know that I love, love, love chocolate.  And I love, love, love cookies. Now, add coffee to the mix (which I love, love, love as well), and you have something to smile about — really big. These cookies are perfect for dunking, by the way, and that sets me up for smiling a whole lot for the next week as well.  I think I’ll share a few with my sister — and maybe even a cousin — and that will add to the enjoyment for me.

I could go on, but I hear my coffee and cookies calling me, so I think I’ll bring this post to a close and go do some dunking and some more smiling.

Hope you’ve had  lot to smile about this week as well. I look forward to learning about your smiles, so hop over to Trent’s blog and add your post.

 




 

Pay Attention to the Public View of Your WP Site

COMPUTER WITH TONGUE OUTFor the past few years, WordPress has put a little box at the very bottom of our posts with the notice “Sometimes, visitors may see an advertisement here.”  That implies — and it used to be the case — that they would place ads at the bottom of our posts. And, of course, they’ve always told us that if we are logged into our account, we won’t see the ads.

However, this year, WP has begun to put large ads all throughout our posts. Even though they still “say” that an add might appear at the very bottom — which implies that the bottom is the only place ads will go — they are popping ads into our posts in as much as 4 or 5 places, interrupting our text, and then throwing in more ads at the bottom of the post.

I don’t argue that they have a right to put in an ad or two if they offer the web space free, but, in my opinion, they have been very deceptive about the whole thing since the changes this year, and — also in my opinion — one or two ads at the bottom of the page should be sufficient. Moreover, some of the ads are offensive and vulgar, and can, at times, seriously conflict with the purpose and tone of the blog itself.

So, folks, don’t stay in the dark about your blog or website. Be sure you log out of WP and then pull up your site while you’re logged out. Do it regularly. You need to be aware of what the general public sees whey they visit your site.

Other WordPress users are not supposed to see your ads either — although several times recently I’ve seen them even when logged in.

But it’s important that you be aware that a whole lot of people visiting your site are being exposed to tons of ads that you may not even agree with at all. At least if you are aware of the specific ads, you can say something to your visitors if necessary — or be prepared if you get any negative feedback or reaction from visitors who may be judging you by the ads they see on your site.

WordPress has really been pushing hard lately to get everyone to purchase a blog rather than use the free service. I understand that they want and need to make money. But these pressure tactics — including deluging our posts with mass advertising — seems a little over the top for good customer relations.

 


 

Excited About My Newest Journal

My newest journal project is complete and available for purchase from Amazon. I’ll have a supply soon as well, if you live in my area and want to get them from me.

WORD-INSPIRED COVER - frontWORD-INSPIRED JOURNAL SAMPLE PG 2MY WORD-INSPIRED JOURNAL offers 108 lined pages for personal journaling, interspersed with 12 great pictures and scripture passages to inspire meditation and devotional thought.  This journal is perfect to use for personal devotion times or as a prayer journal — or to just record whatever is on your heart every day.

I’ve included a picture of the front cover and one sample of the inside pages as well.

$6.00

Find MY WORD-INSPIRED JOURNAL at this LINK:

Gone From This World But Still In My Heart

Two years ago today, I lost my very best friend of many years when attorney and civic leader Kent Bartholomew Mann was killed while riding his bicycle. It’s been a very sad two years for me. Kent was much more than just a friend. He was also my best-ever book editor. Although a lawyer by profession, he had a most amazing and creative gift for writing and editing, and many were the times I sat with him, or called him, and said, “Hey, I’ve got this scene that really needs so-and-so, but I’m stuck.” His creativity would go to work on the problem and almost always come up with an idea that was just right. He helped me so very much in my writing, my business, and my ministry.

Without question, Kent was my toughest critic, and my strongest and most faithful champion. He constantly challenged me to my highest and my best in every area of my life. More than once, when a situation just got too hard to deal with and I was ready to throw in the towel, he absolutely refused to let me quit. [And it’s hard to argue with a guy who stands at 6′ 7″ and weighs over 200 pounds. :)]

I was not the only person he touched with his kindness and encouragement. I have realized over this past two years that there is hardly any sector of my home town to which I can go where I am not reminded of how he did something in that place that helped someone – sometimes an individual, and sometimes an entire group of people. Was he perfect? Certainly not. But he was the truest kind of friend.

We spent hours working on one of my inspirational novels on the afternoon of the day he died. When we stopped for the day, I walked out the door with our plans made to pick up the work again the following morning. Three hours later, he was gone from this life.

I’m sharing all of this information simply to make this point: In the world we’re living in right now, true, trustworthy friendships are rare. If you have been blessed with that kind of friendship, value it as gold. Cherish it, nourish it, and guard it with your whole heart. These words offer the most sincere wish I can make for you in honor of my beloved friend.

Kent Bartholomew Mann is gone from this world, and it’s a darker place as a result. But he is still very much alive in my heart, and his legacy of love and friendship still lightens the shadows.

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It’s Coming! It’s Coming!

What’s coming?????

OWL JOURNAL COVER W. BRANCH - FRONT ONLY

My CHOCOLATE OWL JOURNAL.


I’ve just finished the prototype for my next journal, and I can’t wait to get it out there for writers who are always looking for more pages to fill.

This little gem is called the CHOCOLATE OWL JOURNAL and, instead of photos throughout like the coffee lovers journal, it will offer great little nuggets of chocolate wisdom from CHOCOLATE OWL himself.

Now, authors and book creators don’t generally dedicate something like a journal to people who are special to them, so this journal won’t include a dedication page either. But I just want to say that if I were dedicating it, I’d have to dedicate it to my friend Lee over at Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus. She appreciates owls — and all kinds of God’s precious winged creatures  — more than anyone else I know.

Well, I just wanted to let you see the front cover and whet your appetite for this newest project. It should be available for purchase by the end of the week at the latest. Price should be around $6.00. I’ll post again when it’s ready and give you all the final details.

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Weely Smile 8/19/19

ARK FLYER FOR AUGUST # 2 - top onlyTo participate in Trent’s Weekly Smile Challenge, click on the link and get the simple instructions.


Well this week, I have two reasons to smile. One was last Thursday, and one was just this morning.

Thursday was another “Meeting Aboard the Ark” meeting that my ministry Radical About Jesus holds at our local civic center. I love these meetings because we have a great time worshiping the Lord and getting into His Word, but I especially love the meetings when people come who need much healing and help from the Lord. We had a meeting like that this time. So  often, the people in need just don’t know that God wants them well and that He wants to provide all their needs. They’ve been taught that God delivers people sometimes, but sometimes He chooses not to, so they’re plagued with doubts and fears, and they’ve suffered for years.

But when they hear the Word of God and how He has poured His heart into promises to come to them and bring them the relief and the help they need — and that He has already paid for it all through Jesus’ finished work — they just open up and blossom like a flower in the sun. It’s the most amazing and joyous thing to see the change come over these people as they soak up God’s Word. Their faces light up, their eyes shine, they sit up straighter in their seats  and even lean forward as if to soak it up better — because they’re learning how much God loves them and wants to help them. And they’re learning how to receive miracles from Him. Then when we come to the time to pray for them, their faith is ready to receive, and God is able to change their lives.

I can’t think of anything I’d rather do with my life than carry that delivering, healing, life-giving Word to people who need it so much. So, naturally, that kind of experience can produce the biggest smiles of all.

But then there are the little things — as Trent mentioned in his own post this week. And I had one of those experiences this morning. I left the house early for a prayer meeting, and just as I was closing my car door, I glanced over at a sort of grassy area close to my azalea bushes. I saw the most amazing sight: There were hundreds of tiny sparkling gems scattered throughout the grass — in varying shades of greens, blues, and reds. I was stunned. I had never seen anything like it before, and as my gaze traveled over the rest of my yard, I saw more. The dew still on the ground was reflecting the sun’s light in those prisms of color, and it looked like my lawn had been seeded with precious sparkling gems of so many colors.

Some of you readers may have experienced that situation before, but I never have, and I was just speechless for a moment. I sat there, motionless, and suddenly my heart just swelled with gratitude that the Lord had given me that special experience. I had been having a troubled time the past couple days, for a couple different reasons — not the least of which was sadness as I come to the week that is the anniversary of losing my husband (17 years ago now) and then losing my very best friend of many years (just two years ago this week.)

So my heart was heavy this morning, and the little light display from the Lord so cheered me and made me realize how much the Lord loves beauty and how much of it He creates. He just reminded me that if He bothered to create so much beauty in little drops of dew, how much more beautiful will Heaven and the rest of eternity be. I was running much later than I should have been for the meeting, but I just had to sit there quietly and soak up that lovely experience — which made me smile a lot — and thank the Lord over and over.  I did finally get to church for the prayer meeting though.  🙂

I hope all of you have had plenty to smile about this week as well.

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Hurry! We’re Almost Gone

SMILEY - YEL,ORANGEJust a reminder to some of my followers here:

Not everyone who follows me on this site follows my ministry site “Hangin’ Out With God.”  But a whole lot of you do. For that reason, I’m posting a reminder here as well as there, so that you won’t forget to switch to our brand new site with us.

“Hangin’ Out With God” has been spreading the love of Jesus for over 8 years, and we have moved that work to our brand new site — “Radical About Jesus Ministries.” This week will be the last week “Hangin” Out” is available for public viewing. Unfortunately, I’m not sure everyone has actually realized that unless they hop over to the new website and hit the “Follow” button, they will lose all connection with that work.

I know it sounds strange to say that the readers don’t understand that point. But you know how it is:  we are creatures of habit, and if we’ve been going to the same site for over 8 years, we just keep doing it and thinking, “Oh, yeah, I need to check out the new site.”  Then the next time we visit the old website, we think that again — and again — and, well, you get the point.

Anyway, since we have hundreds of followers on “Hangin’ Out” and only about 5 of them have moved with us to the new site, I thought a little reminder here for those who follow both sites might be helpful. Of course, if most of those hundreds of people don’t want to follow us any longer, that’s okay, but I don’t really think that’s the case with most of them.

So, please, if you want to stay connected with the “Hangin’ Out With God” ministry, be sure to visit “Radical About Jesus Ministries” and hit “Follow” before next Monday. We really don’t want to lose you!

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Weekend Coffee Share 8/3/19

COFFEE. GOLD BORDER -- Luiz Jorge Artista - PX

If we were having coffee together today, I’d be serving you my Folgiers half & half blend. I love Folgiers.  I generally enjoy Maxwell House coffee as well. Many of my family members and friends use the Keurig coffee makers, and they’re okay, but the coffee just doesn’t taste as good as it does when I brew my own by the pot.

If we were visiting today, I’d probably tell you about a new series of Christian ministry meetings I’m holding at the local civic center, because they are on the top of my “to-do” list. The first one was last month and went very well. The people who attended said they were very blessed, and the second meeting is scheduled for August 15. So I’m busy, busy, busy trying to get out all the advertising and notifications throughout the local media.

I would probably also tell you that I’m feeling pretty guilty because my house really needs a good cleaning, but telling you about my guilt is probably as far as I would go. I probably won’t do much actual cleaning this weekend. With the meeting to plan, a prayer meeting Sunday evening, and my newest journal project hanging over my  head, I just can’t seem to focus on the vacuum, the dust rag, or the dishpan.

I’m sure, if I gave you plenty of refills on coffee and some cookies to go with them, you’d be sure to sympathize with me and agree that the cleaning should come farther down on the list than those other jobs. Oh, and that reminds me: I was going to pick up a new package of chocolate cookies when I was at Wal Mart a couple hours ago, and I forgot!

Not to worry, though. I have enough cookies left from some packages I bought last week — and some M&M candies as well. I’ll be fine.

Well, enjoy your coffee this weekend and be good to yourselves. I’ll try to get around and visit several of you and try out your brew before the weekend’s over as well.


To join in the fun of the Weekend Coffee Share, hop over to this link and get the simple rules to participate.

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Weekly Smile 7/29/19

I love taking part in Trent’s Weekly Smile, but for the past couple weeks I’ve been bogged down finishing up this term’s writing class and preparing for a ministry meeting at a local Civic Center. But this week, I’m starting to wind down from those two event — both of which made me smile — so I have a little extra time.

COFFEE JOURNAL COVER FRONT ONLYHowever, my post is not about those two things. It’s about another smile maker. My brand new DAILY GRIND COFFEE LOVERS JOURNAL. It’s just out and, I’m grinning from ear to ear about it — partly because it’s now available for purchase — and partly because I just can’t keep from smiling when I look at all those delicious coffee photos and think about how those captions popped into my mind for each one — and partly because I’m enjoying doing my own journaling in my personal copy of the book.

Now, I know this sounds like an advertisement, but truly it is the thing that caused my biggest smile this week — and last week.  I’m having a great time running around delivering copies of the journal to other coffee lovers who want one for themselves or to give as a gift. And to be perfectly honest, I’ll probably be smiling pretty big over this event for the next week or two as well.

Not only that, but I’m working on the next journal, which has a writing theme and should be out next month. That project is putting a smile on my face as well. Of course, it’s also causing me some hours of serious thought and a tiny bit of aggravation, but after all — as we all know — that’s part of the program when you’re creating a book.

Hope you all have a lot to smile about this coming week as well.

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COFFEE LOVERS JOURNAL

My newest project: DAILY GRIND COFFEE LOVERS JOURNAL

COFFEE JOURNAL COVER FRONT ONLY
It’s finally online and for sale — from Amazon. (Copies will also be available from me personally if you’re in the Southern Illinois area). I love this journal. I enjoyed creating it, and I’ll enjoy using it personally. I’m including a few pictures of the outside and inside — since the sample Amazon gives is too short to see what the journaling section actually looks like.

COFFEE JOURNAL COVER BACK ONLYJOURNAL SAMPLE 1JOURNAL SAMPLE 2

There are 31 delicious coffee pictures — each with its own appropriate caption and 3 lightly lined journaling pages. There are 93 lined journaling pages total. I hope coffee lovers all over the world will get one and enjoy it or give it as a gift to someone they love — who loves coffee.

The journal is $19.00 on Amazon. I’m selling them personally at a discount, but, of course, you’d have to live close enough for me to deliver one to you.

Anyway, check it out more thoroughly or purchase one HERE.

 

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New Addition to the WordPress Family

MARSHALL'S PICTUREI want to let all my readers know about a new blogger in our WordPress family. A young man named Marshall Girtman, a free-lance writer from my neck of the woods, has created a site called “Painfully Authentic.” His tagline reads, “Real experiences, Outspoken authenticity, Experiential insights.”

Marshall shares posts about his personal experiences and his strong beliefs on the site, and he has a great wealth of material to draw from. Not only has he earned two degrees and been active in different professional positions, but he also has behind him a lengthy military career, including time spent in active combat. Moreover, as the father of five children, he can’t help but have a good deal to say that’s related to family.

Marshall is a friend of mine and an excellent writer. I think many of my followers will find his site interesting and enjoyable. I hope you’ll pop over to visit him, using the link above, and welcome him to WordPress.

 

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