Friday, July 31, 2020

Book Review: Where to Submit Christian Writing

A small but valuable resource for freelance writers. If you’re new to writing, Jake Doberenz lists many small, nonpaying markets you might break into. If you’re an experienced writer, you’ll be familiar with many of the publishers listed, but you’ll still discover many denominational and other small publications that aren’t listed in the traditional writer’s market-type books.

I liked the way the e-book provides website links to each publication. Just click and you can view writer’s guidelines and more. I also like the way Doberenz arranged his book by separating paying and nonpaying publications. And I appreciate the wide range of topics indexed—from “Academic,” “Apologetics” and “Art” to “Screen Writing and Film,” “Women” and “Writing and Blogging.”

 I am happy I discovered this handy resource with concise descriptions of magazines including denominational publications with which I was not familiar.


Friday, July 17, 2020

Two Steps to Fall in Step with God

             Has a verse you’ve read a hundred times ever struck you in a fresh new way? That’s what happened when I read: “His disciples had gone into the town to buy food” (John 4:8 NIV).
            There the disciples were, with Jesus, the Son of God, the man who turned water into wine. The man who, a few chapters later, feeds 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes. Why didn’t Jesus just conjure up some sandwiches and potato salad?
            Could it be that God wants us to participate with Him to accomplish His purposes? And as we work with Him, we get to know Him? We feel the satisfaction of doing His will?
Like the disciples provided food for Jesus, we provide God with something He needs—our interaction and support.
            So I ask myself, am I in step with God? What else might I do? How might we as Christians better participate with God?
            It all starts by sitting down and talking with God. In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus prayed: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:9-13 NIV). In that day, bread was a staple. And for many, it’s a real need during this pandemic. What exactly are your needs? Bread or otherwise. Tell God.
            Early Christians prayed for direction. “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:2-3 NIV).
            What kind of direction are you seeking? Whether you’re making a menu or making a move, pray about your next step.
            And after you pray, get up and do something. If I’m praying for a different job, I must send out resumes. It’s no use wishing I had a different job. It’s no use complaining about my boss. I must do the leg work to find a different job.
            If I want better health, I need to maintain a healthy body. That means exercising. That means denying myself food I know isn’t good for me, like the two Hershey Miniatures I just ate. Sure, I can have treats, but treats cannot be my way of life. The definition of a “treat” is something out of the ordinary that gives me pleasure. Not something I eat every time a hunger pang pokes.
            If I want better relationships, I need to communicate. I need to ask forgiveness as needed. And grant forgiveness, whether or not others ask for it. That means I make an effort to stay in touch with kids and grandkids, reach out to friends who haven’t called, talk to people at church who I don’t know (once I get to go to church).
            It’s no use complaining about being lonely, even in these lonesome times. If we have computers or phones, we can reach out. Others need our touch as badly as we need theirs.
            If I want a friend to know Jesus, I can remind them of Who He is. If I want a better relationship with God, I can set a time to interact with Him. I don’t know about you, but it’s easy for me to forget about God. I get busy writing or cooking or talking and I totally forget about the God Who made me and craves my interaction.
            You get the idea.
So what are your needs? What are you praying for? And how might you participate with God to answer your own prayers? Think about it.
            I’m sure Jesus and His disciples enjoyed that picnic lunch, complete with ice cream for dessert. Well, maybe they didn’t have insulated bags in His day, so it was probably fruit.
God enjoys whatever we do to help Him accomplish His purposes in the world. And surprise! That makes our own lives more enjoyable as well. Now I must run, for I surely have things to do.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Book Review: The Body Keeps the Score

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M. D.

Did you ever wonder why someone flies off the handle at the slightest provocation? There may be good reason. In this book Dr. Van Der Kolk clearly explains the imprint of trauma on our lives and offers ways to combat negative forces that shaped us in ways that disrupt relationships.

Our experiences affect our minds and our bodies. Our thinking and emotions are shaped by our past, according to Van Der Kolk.

This book was more detailed than I expected, but using case studies, the author clearly made his points in every chapter. The book delves deeply into the misbehavior of children and the post-traumatic-stress symptoms of veterans. But the analysis and case studies make it helpful to anyone seeking to understand their own reactions or the reactions of others. It was very understandable and enjoyable reading.

Van Der Kolk’s insight makes sense: “If trauma is encoded in heartbreaking and gut-wrenching sensations, then our first priority is to help people . . . manage relationships. Where traumatized children are concerned, the last things we should be cutting the from school schedules are the activities that can do precisely that: chorus, physical education, recess and anything else that involves movement, play, and other forms of joyful engagement.”

Broken into five parts, the book looks at what constitutes trauma and its effect on the brain. Part 5 offers “Paths to Recovery” with chapters on various approaches including the benefits of participating in theater. In a day that promotes quick fixes through medications, this man makes a strong case for alternate routes to healing.

Published by Penguin Books, the book includes an appendix, extensive notes and an index, which I found helpful. I especially recommend this book for school teachers, Sunday school teachers and veterans’ family members, but it will be very helpful to anyone seeking to better understand others and themselves.