25.8.13

Is There a Writer in You?

 by Sally Matheny


English and Journalism degrees are not mandatory. A lifelong desire to author a book is not required. Burning the midnight oil is not obligatory. Then how do you know if there is a writer in you?

Do you enjoy encouraging, teaching, and guiding other people? Perhaps you have a knack for always cheering others up, even to the point of laughter in the midst of their tears.

Maybe there is something you are passionate about and want others to share your enthusiasm.

Have you overcome a difficult hurdle in life and want to help others who are experiencing something similar?

If there is something filling your heart so full, it’s bursting to get out, then you may want to consider writing.

Writing does not always have to be published in order to assist someone. A thoughtful letter, card, or email can be wonderful blessings. Even a journal passed down through the generations is treasured.

However, pray and ask God how He wants to use you and your writing. Perhaps it is time to consider writing for print and on-line publications.
Your words may bless one reader if you share it with a friend or family member. Yet, if you write for a magazine, your message may encourage thousands.
Wondering how to get started? There are how-to books you can check out at the library. However, one of the best ways is to attend a Writers’ Conference.
Start with a smaller conference to avoid feeling overwhelmed. The Write2Ignite Writers' Conference http://www.write2ignite.com is a wonderful place to begin your writing journey.
This conference specializes for Christians who write (or want to learn how to write) for children and young adults. The variety of workshops (on magazine writing, picture books, devotionals, illustrating, social media, and so much more!) is sure to help beginning writers as they navigate their way in the world of writing.

Another great thing about Write2Ignite is they also offer a track for teens.
Write2Ignite is held every March at North Greenville University in Travelers Rest, South Carolina.
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Also, I recommend Writers Advance Boot Camp http://www.writersadvancebootcamp.com.





Writing for publications requires learning how to write for each one. It takes work and plenty of patience.
If you think God wants you to share your message by writing, you have to do your part. Learn everything you can about the craft of writing. Continually sharpen your skills in order to be a useful tool.
What story is whirling in your mind right now? What heart message is bursting to get out?
Think about it. Pray about it. Is there a writer in you?

 

*For more helpful information, check out the tab at the top for “Websites for Writers.”  

 

 

 

 

 

19.8.13

Making the First Day of School Special

by Sally Matheny


 

     There are many “Back-to-School” sales taking place. Parents are buying new clothes and supplies in hopes of mustering up some back-to-school enthusiasm in their kids. Whether you have a kindergartener or a college student, there are a variety of ways to make the first day of school special.
     Kindergarteners are not a hard bunch to please. Everything is new (and hopefully exciting) to them. 
     Older students are more of a challenge. Here are a few ideas:

       Host a back-to-school party for your child and his friends. Get your child in on the planning. Here are a few themes to consider:


-      “Fun Day for First-Graders!” Join us for a
day of field games & contests.

-      “S’more Second Graders Wanted!” Come
join us as we roast in a new school year.

-      “Theme Park Rolls in Third-Graders!” Meet
us for a day at Six Flags as we coast into third grade.

-      “Four!” Heads Up to all fourth graders—
Join us for a game of Frisbee golf.

        Consider hosting a “Back-to-School” tea party
 or an overnight campout.

     Make a treat bag for your student that
 includes school supplies and some of their favorite candy
 or a gift certificate to their favorite ice cream shop.  
 How about a scavenger hunt for kids to find their goodies?

     Gather your kids around a campfire or fire pit one evening. There’s
something about relaxing around a fire that generates conversations. This
is a great time to offer encouragement if your child shares any concerns 
about the upcoming year.

     No matter what your child’s age, make time to share ideas of ways to
make school mornings go smoothly. Make a list. Implement a plan to
reduce everyone’s stress.

   Also, talk about the student’s expectations for the year and your
expectations. What will the morning routine be like? What are the goals for
behavior, schoolwork, friends, transportation, and extracurricular activities?
Communication and devising a plan will make a clearer path to success. 
       
         Prepare a special breakfast for the first day of school. There are    
    several cute ideas on Pinterest, or simply make what your child likes best.
      
      Include something special for their lunch. If your student takes a
 lunch box slip in a note, stickers, or a special dessert. For older students,
 consider giving them a little extra cash to buy something special at
 lunchtime.
       Take time to pray with your child the night before, or the morning of,
 his first day of school. Talking to the Giver of all good things and the One
 who comforts and protects is essential for the day. 

     Perhaps one way to make your child’s first day unique is encouraging
him to think of others on this day. What can he do to help others have a
great day?

         Take school supplies for
   students in need.

       Make the teacher a card.

        Surprise the bus driver with 
   a breakfast biscuit.

       Speak kindly to someone 
  who looks discouraged.

     Sit beside the new kid at
   lunch.

      Secretly place a miniature candy bar or other treat in someone’s
  locker or desk with a note telling them to have a great day.


     There are many creative ways to get your student’s first day of school off to a good start. It does not guarantee an entire day of happiness. However, no matter what transpires, your child will ponder on your act of love the rest of the day.

 
     How do you make the first day of school special for your children?

11.8.13

Giving the Best is Never Too Good for LEGO or You

by Sally Matheny
Lego art by Sawaya

Do you know about Ole Kirk Christiansen? He was a toymaker in Denmark who named his toyshop “Lego” back in 1934. Originally, he made wooden toys but later, in 1947, his company expanded to make plastic toys.

Ole Kirk was well known for saying, det bedste er ikke for godt, which essentially means, “the best is never too good.”

He insisted his toys be of the highest quality. Unfortunately, not all toy makers stand by that motto.

Not all of Ole Kirk's days were good, especially during the Depression. Nevertheless, he stood firm in giving his best.






Lego Self Portrait of Nathan Sawaya



LEGO ® has grown into a phenomenal company that would astonish Ole Kirk. The little, plastic bricks have generated clothing, movies, and theme parks.

One of today’s amazing artists, Nathan Sawaya, has locked his talents into Ole Kirk’s motto and is building his own success story.
My family was fortunate to visit one of Sawaya’s exhibits held at the Captain White House in Alamance County, North Carolina in 2013.






5.8.13

Pushing Children Out of Their Comfort Zones

by Sally Matheny


  
Pushing Children Out of
Their Comfort Zones
When I was growing up, I don’t remember getting out of something just because I was not “comfortable” with it. 

For example, at age nine, stacking firewood in the heat of August was not an enjoyable event for me. I didn’t like the yellow jackets, the heat, or the hard labor.

However, my daddy thought it would be good “character-building.” I was not given a say in the matter. When my father said, “Let’s go stack some wood,” I did it. I’m sure I suggested a wait on a cooler day or asked how we might avoid bee stings. 

However, on this, and other occasions, my parents ultimately deemed it important to push me out of my comfort zone.