What Do We Need to Know for 2013?

2013 Book
This week we are spending a little time reflecting. Our 2012 “book” is closing. The spine of the book is worn from being opened and shut 365 times. The cover has a couple of stains. Many pages have been dog-eared for special remembrance. Attempts were made to remove other pages, but they remain stubbornly intact. Scanning through the book, we see the life lessons learned in 2012. What do we need to know for 2013?

A new year brings new resolutions and goals. Usually, we set attainable goals.  Work will be required but the success rate is realistic.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3, NIV)

What if we make a list of unrealistic goals? Things that are outside of our own reach? It’s reasonable for me to lose ten pounds, not easy, but an achievable target. Raising ten-thousand dollars for local food pantries seems an unattainable goal. I wouldn’t know where to begin. I don’t have the skills or knowledge for the job. It’s out of my comfort zone. Too much work and too little time. I could come up with fifty solid reasons why this would not be on my 2013 list of goals. It is easier to say I’ll donate twenty cans of food each month.

Dare we ask God to give us an impossible dream? What would that be? To go back to college? Change careers? Restore a relationship that ended long ago? Start a new ministry? Love unloveable people? Buy a house? Sell everything and become a missionary?

Are we brave enough to ask God to show us great and unsearchable things? Or do we “play it safe” and stick with what we already know? Do the possible or dream the impossible?

“For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37, NLT)

One thing we need to know for 2013 is to trust God’s power more and rely less on our own power. God is ready to open the floodgates of his love and wisdom. He has great things to teach us this year.

Imagine he is placing a brand new book in your hands. Not a blemish on it. Pristine now, but he knows, at times, it’s going to be mishandled. As a believer, it’s okay, he’s got you covered. God already knows what is coming your way this year. Nothing surprises him.

He allows you to make choices and wants your input. Your 2013 book has plenty of blank pages for you to decide what to write. What will it be?  Do you want an interesting, but mediocre, account of your accomplishments? Or will it be an exciting adventure novel with impossibilities becoming miraculous realities?

Be strong and courageous. Invite God to plant an impossible dream in your heart. Ask him what you need to know for 2013.














A Pondering Heart

by Sally Matheny

"Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19)
God knew Mary’s heart. It was humble enough and trusting enough to care for His treasure. With God's help, Mary's heart would also grow strong enough.

Mary was afraid when she first saw the angel. He comforted her, but how her heart must have raced at the news of her pregnancy. She, a virgin, would mother the Son of the Most High!

After the angel left, Mary was so excited she could do nothing but pack her bags and hurry to her cousin Elizabeth’s house. For three months, they enjoyed each other’s company. Praying and giggling in delight about both of their miracle babies.

The time finally came for Mary to give birth. Was she concerned discovering her birthing room was a stable? Or that God’s Son would spend his first night in an animal’s manger? Perhaps after everything she had already experienced, she did not worry. Mary fully trusted in God’s provision.

Later, Mary sat gazing at the newborn in her arms. She and Joseph knew he was God’s Son. Elizabeth knew as well. Would others believe?

Mary may have been surprised to hear the staffs of shepherds tapping outside. They were asking if they may come in and worship the Child. Her humble heart was overwhelmed with love and joy. Holding Jesus close for warmth, she could not fully understand the magnitude of the gift she cradled. Angels were praising God and telling of his birth. Strangers were coming to bow down before him.

Words were acutely inadequate to describe what she felt. She could only treasure the moments and ponder them in her heart.

What a night! Joyful but exhausted, Mary sang the baby to sleep. Perhaps she sang the same song she had sung to God only nine months earlier. Gently swaying…pondering and praising. Remembering the miracles and wondering what lie ahead. Praising God for his mercy and gift of love.

What has God given you to ponder?
What are you treasuring in your heart this Christmas?


Ten Ways to Prepare a Place for Christ

People are counting down the final days until Christmas. Checking off the gift lists and wrapping packages. The aroma of cookies and candy waft from kitchens across the globe. Christmas trees are already aglow and stockings line up the mantles. Christmastime brings lots of preparations. Are we preparing a place for Christ?

Saint Nicholas might be glad to know people want to follow his example of generosity. However, sadness would fill his heart if he knew the extent and motivation behind some gift-giving today.  Saint Nicholas secretly gave gifts long ago because of his humble spirit. His heart and focus belonged to God.

As final preparations are made let’s ask God what He would like for Christmas. Include these things on your calendar and “to do” list. Talk with your family and friends and decide ways you can prepare a place for Christ this week.

Some suggestions:

v  Keep a manger in front of your tree to draw focus on Christ rather than the gifts.

v  Set up a Nativity scene. Have family members read from the Bible, or tell what they know about each piece.

v  Encourage children to take a break from the words, “I want…” and think about ways to serve others.

v  Participate in church activities. Check your local paper for events such as a live nativity scene and Christ-centered Christmas programs.

v  Share baked goods with those less fortunate. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Sing Christmas carols.

v  Buy gifts for those in need. Try including a gift that shares the good news and hope of Jesus Christ.

v  Invite someone, who does not have a family, over for a meal.

v  Include the real meaning of Christmas in your outdoor decorations for others to see.

v  Donate to a charity that spreads the gospel such as Samaritan’s Purse and Compassion International.

v  Carve out time each night for a special family devotion. There are many great Christmas devotion books to choose from or you can read from the Bible.


God loved us so much he sent Jesus. He came to make a way for us to live forever. He is preparing a place for us when we leave this earth. Until then, shouldn’t we prepare a place for him here?


“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”  John 14:3


What about you? How are you keeping Jesus in your Christmas preparations, in your life, and in your heart?




Joy, Pure Joy

There were only two wise men, and they were twins. Traveling afar meant walking from the back church pew down to the front. That’s pretty good since these wise men are only in the first grade. Of course, they have traveled farther. Another forty-feet led straight to the bathroom. Nevertheless, even with their traveling freedom, the wise men were not joyful.

Ahhh…the children’s Christmas play practice is in full swing. The first night of practice went well. “Joseph,” a redheaded second-grader, proudly escorted his older and much taller “Mary.” Giggles trickled through the room, mine included. I’m not sure Mary likes her prearranged marriage with little Zachaeus but she’s a good sport. I told my son (a.k.a. Zach, Zachaeus, Joseph) he could wear boots. He firmly responded, “I’m plenty tall enough, thank you very much.” At least “Joseph” is confident.

The shepherds were small and quiet. The angel did not terrify them. It was hearing instructions to walk the aisles and shout, “Jesus is born! Jesus is born!” They practiced sharing the good news. One whispered it. One mouthed the words and the other used mental telepathy.

It was during the five-minute break when the wise men expressed their concerns to the director.

We want to tell people that Jesus is born,” they cried. Apparently, delivering gifts to the Christ child was not enough.

The shy shepherds quickly agreed to exchange places with the wise men. Excited about the beautiful gifts they will silently offer Jesus.

After the break, the children practiced their new parts. The twin wise men gleefully became shepherds. They raised their eyebrows with anticipation and repeatedly asked,

“When can we say it?”

“Is it time to go to tell the people?”

Finally, the time arrived when the two newly ordained shepherds skipped down the aisles of the church. They loudly proclaimed,

“Jesus is born! Jesus is born! Jesus is born!”

Their toothy grins brought smiles, even to the tired parents sitting in the back. They exuded joy, pure joy.

How about you? Whom do you identify with?

Mary? She had surprises in her life. Some were wonderful. Some were disappointing, some sad. Ultimately, she trusted God with the details Do you have faith God is in control, even when you don’t comprehend everything?

Joseph? He had surprises too. He wrestled with decisions. He loved God and he loved Mary. Even when he didn’t understand, he stayed by Mary’s side. He trusted and obeyed God. Are you obedient to God, even when it’s difficult?

Perhaps you’re similar to the wise men. You search for Jesus daily, seeking to worship Him. You joyfully give the gifts you have to offer. Standing firm in your beliefs, you defend Christ.

Or are you like a poor, quiet shepherd? Do you look at the gifts of others and wish you had more to offer?  The angels spoke first to the humble in spirit. The shepherds gave their time. They left their work to offer the Lord their adoration. Experiencing God’s love, they presented their service. They spread the good news to others. Not all may have shouted it, but they sure did share it. They were authentic and people were amazed at what they heard.

Let’s be obedient like Mary and Joseph, trusting God in all things. Like the kings, let’s freely give and be bold for Christ. But let’s leave our crowns at the manger and run barefoot through the hills like the shepherds. Eagerly sharing how our lives changed after meeting Jesus. Spread joy, pure joy.


Anti-Gray Thursday

I did not know it had a name, but Professor Google has made it clear. Stores open on Thanksgiving Day for sales are participating in “Gray Thursday.”  Let it be known this gal is against Gray Thursday. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are enough, don’t you think?

There once was a day when I thought it was fun to venture out on Black Friday. It was at least twenty years ago before babies, back pain and common sense kicked in.

Once a negative term, Black Friday described a financial crisis in 1869. Years later, police officers used it to describe the traffic jams, overcrowded sidewalks and stores on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The day brought dread to officers, but not to merchants. They realized Black Friday was a big shopping day. In 1975, they began using the term as a marketing tool.

Every year since 2001, Black Friday held first place as the busiest shopping day of the year, except for 2003 (when the Saturday before Christmas jumped back to first place).

It was not enough. Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving offering special internet deals) became the #1 biggest spending day in 2010 boasting over one billion in sales. That’s right—billion.

Okay, I’m all for boosting the American economy. I like finding good deals and being a smart shopper. I admit taking advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales before. However, there is no gray area here.

You will not find me out shopping on Thanksgiving Day. The best deal of my Thanksgiving Day is being able to share it with family and friends. I will defend this day that has been set aside from work and the busy-ness of life. A day of spending—not money, but time with family and friends. A day of giving—not our charge cards, but our time to those who are lonely or meeting needs of those less fortunate. A day of thanking God for what He gives us, not for what the stores are offering.

There’s a guy in Canada who began a “Buy Nothing Day” back in 1992. His fans have Zombie Walks through stores, blankly staring and saying, “buy nothing, buy nothing.” Volunteers offer a credit card cut-up service. They hold Whirl-Marts encircling stores with empty shopping carts. That’s a bit extreme for me. I have better things to do than walk like a zombie pushing an empty shopping cart. (Sometimes I feel like that when I forget my shopping list but I don’t intentionally do it!)

However, I do like the idea of making Thanksgiving Day a “Buy Nothing Day.” Who’s with me?


Winner of "Give a Child a Tree" Contest

Thanks to all of you who accepted the challenge and got your children out of the house and climbing a tree! Kudos to all the brave parents who hoisted themselves up a tree as well!

I received numerous photos via email, facebook, and my cell phone. What fun we all had! For those who didn't send in a photo but shared a story or comments, they were appreciated as well.

Now, without further ado...the winning entry (and I gave each person in a tree their own entry) is:      

Sarah F. (age 3) of North Carolina 
Congratulations Sarah! I'll be in touch with your mom about how to get your prize to you. You'll be receiving a fun, outdoor toy soon.
Congratulations to all of you--you refused to be the statistic one out of three kids who have never climbed a tree. Keep climbing!

Top Ten Thanksgiving Day Moments

During my childhood, the highlight of Thanksgiving day was going to Paw Paw Talbert’s house to watch the Thanksgiving Parades on his color television set. It was a large cabinet model that sat on the floor. Although one did have to get up and turn a knob to change the channels., it was very upscale compared to our family’s 14-inch, black-and-white set.
Soaking in the colors of the Macy’s Parade was, and still is, a delight to me on Thanksgiving Day. There are a thousand other special Thanksgiving Day moments but I’ll narrow it down to my top ten.

My Top Ten Thanksgiving Day Moments (listed in random order):

ü  Thanksgiving Day Parades: I prefer to watch them from the comfort of my sofa, with pajama-clad children nestled beside me rather than from a crowded curbside.

ü  The Aroma of Turkey Roasting: This is one stretches all the way back to my childhood. My mama would indulge me with a piece of golden brown turkey skin before guests arrived for dinner. I still love to smell turkey roasting!

ü  Card Tables: Odd, I know. But card tables mean more people. As a child, we enjoyed sitting at the “kids’ table” until we decided it was more cool to sit on the sofa with the teens. T.V. trays were the next progression to the adult table. Plus, once the tables were cleared of food, they were great for playing games.

ü  Games: Football, tag, card games and board games. We love playing games at our house. Seems like we carve out more time for them around the holidays. Of course, my favorites are the word-building games.

ü  Crunching Leaves Underfoot: I like hearing the sound when walking in the woods around our home. I also savor the few colorful leaves still clinging to their branches or as they flurry across the sky.

ü  Crisp, Cool Air: It brings a freshness along with cozy sweaters and blankets, coffee and hot chocolate. Snuggling by a fire inside or
    by the fire pit outside.


I'm Walking the Walk and Climbing the Tree

Sally Matheny says "Give a Child a Tree!"
I am receiving lots of photos and stories from parents and children who have accepted my challenge to climb a tree. I just wanted everyone to see I'm not just talking the talk. I'm walking the walk and climbing a tree, too!
Join me on my two week campaign (Give a Child a Tree). Peel your children off the couch, take a walk and climb a tree together. Don't allow your child to be the one out of three kids who have never climbed a tree! (Based on a study of kids ages 6 - 15)
Send me a photo and/or a story of your child in a tree and get one entry in a drawing for an outdoor toy. Send me a photo and/or story of YOU and your child in a tree together and you'll get two entries.

I did have one man who asked what if he got his family of seven in a tree on one branch! :)

Well, first I'd say for everyone to please be safe! And I'll tell you what, I'll give a drawing entry for every two people in your family you get in the same tree. (So, a family of 7 will get three entries!) They do not have to be on the same branch. In fact, I would rather them not be on the same branch!

If you're wondering where my kids are and why they aren't in the tree with me--two are in college and my 8 yr. old took the picture! He LOVES this contest and wants to see more pictures so keep sending them in!

You do not have to climb high. Just get in the tree and have fun!

A reminder: You can send photos/stories to this blog, my facebook page, my email or snail mail.
                     Deadline is Nov. 17th.


Climb a Tree Contest 2012

by Sally Matheny

As my grandparents used to say, "Can you shin-ny up a tree?" 

Has your child shinnied up a tree lately? Who has never climbed a tree? 

Research states one out of every three children!

When we were children, my sister and I used to play in the woods for hours. We not only climbed trees but made houses out of sticks, pies out of mud, and crowns out of leaves. Nature provided a wonderful playground.

October is recognized nationally as Pizza Month, Fire Safety Month, and Diabetes Awareness Month. 

I propose we also establish it as "Climb a Tree" Month! 


Election Hub-Bub and Jesus

by Sally Matheny

     Signs, buttons and bumper stickers. Media from mail fliers to commercials. Printed T-shirts and caps. Free candy and pencils. Handshakes and baby-kissing. Ahh…elections are in the air.
     As much as we dislike the election “hub-bub,” we must realize its importance. The candidates need to make themselves known. Their supporters want to get information into the hands of as many voters as possible. Those who believe in their candidate will do everything possible to get him elected. They're adamant the nominee MUST win!
     What if every Christian acted as passionately about sharing Jesus Christ? Some Christians think their bumper stickers and T-shirts are sufficient. 

     If a conversation initiates, then a door may open.  However, without a real-live conversation about Jesus Christ, a bumper sticker alone is not going to persuade someone to follow Jesus.
Love God. Love People.
     Unless we couple our Jesus-sloganed apparel with a Jesus-filled life, our testimonies are no good. Why would people elect to have Jesus in their lives if we don’t share how Jesus is working wonderful changes in our own lives? People want living proof of what Christ can do. They want to see and hear the facts.

     Some churches choose to pass out free candy, pencils, and such in order to reach out to the community. The gifts may even have Jesus’ name stamped on them.
     People will toss the Jesus wrappers in the trash as quickly as they toss mailed election fliers. Will your church be remembered as the place they got free candy, or the place they received the free gift of salvation?
     There’s nothing wrong with giving gifts, just be sure to share the facts about the best Gift of all. The Gift that will change a life, not for a term, but for eternity!
     A well-placed witness tract may direct someone to Jesus. However, consider the influence of a sincere conversation. Just as the candidates prepare for debates, Christians should ready themselves to give the reasons why they believe as they do, and why they follow Jesus.

     If you truly have the love of Jesus, then containing it is difficult. You want to share that with everyone. You do whatever it takes to get His message into the hands of as many people as possible.
     Here’s the thing. Jesus is already the Victor for eternity. No ifs, ands, or buts. He wins!
     What about you? Is there a lot of Christian “hub-bub” in your life but very little Christ?
     Are you on His winning team? If so, how passionate is your campaign?



Amazingly Beautiful Restoration

Amazed that she found beauty in the old armoire, I laughed. It was sitting in the middle of a dusty antique barn.

“This will be perfect for my apartment,” she said, eyes gleaming.

“I don’t know. It really needs paint,” I said. I removed the oddly placed plastic plant from the top of the armoire.

“Oh, honey, look. The top is all splintered.”

“No one will see the top. I love it!”

Pulling on the tiny knobs, she opened the doors. The dowel rod placed at the top seemed sturdy enough but that was about it. The floor of the armoire was broken and practically missing.

I expressed my doubts how useful the piece would be but my daughter absolutely loved it. She had great plans of how she would fix and use it. She begged for it and said she would pay for it herself. I liked the outside of the armoire. It did have appeal but I knew it would take a lot of work to make it functional. Nevertheless, since she was willing to pay for it and do all the work, I relented.

We only had one day to get the armoire purchased and moved into her college apartment. There was no time for us to assist her in the renovation project before our long drive home. It was left in her hands.

A busy college and work schedule soon took precedence. The armoire was wiped down and a quick fix of colorful contact paper was added. I don’t know if she added the contact paper for color or to help hold the armoire together.

There are still hopes and dreams for the armoire but the reality has set in. My daughter realized no matter if she sticks a distracting plant on top or tries to cover the blemishes with contact paper; it’s not going to help. She can only hang lightweight clothes in it and the floor is miraculously holding two pairs of shoes. The truth is the armoire will need to be stripped down, repaired, and refinished by someone with experience. Life’s too busy for her to take it to someone right now, but maybe when school is out for the summer. It’s going to take more work and more money than she originally thought.

Isn’t life like that sometimes? We try to make ourselves look the best we can. We attempt to distract people away from our faults. We try to cover them up or divert attention away from them.

We begin to lose some pieces along life’s way. Splintered hearts question our usefulness. Or perhaps we’re so busy we think we’re serving a purpose. We may be able to do some things but we’re not utilizing our full potential.

Thank the Lord, He sees the potential in us. He loves us. After all, He is our creator. He chose to pay the price for us, even after we have become broken. When we try to fix things on our own, we fall short.

The reality is our Creator is the best choice for refurbishing us. Submitting to the Master’s skillful hands is not always easy. Stripping false layers and sanding out imperfections can be painful. But the Creator makes us stronger and more useful for His purpose. All His restoration projects are amazingly beautiful.






Yard Sales in the Fall

Sally Matheny

Yard Sale

My friend, Mary Jane Downs, is guest blogging for me this week Please look for more inspiring words on her blog, Joy in the Morning. Thanks Mary Jane!

  When I looked out the window early Saturday morning, I noticed my neighbor had all her treasures laid out on long tables. I also noticed there was already a crowd too. So… I decided to take a cup of coffee with me while I ‘just look’ around in order to be neighborly, of course. Taking a cup of coffee was also supposed to distract me from getting anything. Yeah…right…. 
  Sabrina said they were downsizing for a move they were planning for the future. She said she had way too much stuff tucked away so she was going to sell it off little by little. Then the task would not be so overwhelming. 
  People were steadily filing in and out. Some took a brisk walk through looking only for particular items. Others checked for brand names, signatures and dates hoping to find a prize to sell later I supposed. Each had their purpose for coming. The main thing for my friend was that it was selling, no matter the reason. 
  When I came back home, I started thinking about yard sales and their purpose.  I came up with a couple of important views.


Repurpose Items for Further Use

  Yard sales are a great for unloading items you no longer need but someone else can repurpose to meet a need they have. With the economy the way it is, people have to concentrate on getting good deals.  This type of shopping is a great way to get things you need or even want inexpensively. I have also heard of people who have lost everything through a fire/flood using yard sales to replace basic necessities. And…in the end, isn’t helping others what life should be about?
Reconnect our Hearts with God

Where is your treasure?
  Let’s face it. We live in a world of distractions. It is hard to say no to the things that are so readily available and tantalizing to our wants and wishes in life. We just have to have it! But then, after we made the purchase, we realize that we didn’t really need or want the item as badly as we once thought. The treasures we sought after didn’t live up to our expectations and we are left empty. Our reasons for the purchase in the first place were misguided because our hearts were in the wrong place. What we really needed was to feel the need with more of God.

  Yard Sales help us reevaluate where we want our focus to be for the future. Jesus once said, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Jesus was not against us having our hearts desires but He was against them replacing our loyalty and obedience to Him. When we seek God’s counsel, He will advise us on the timing of all things so what we purchase does not throw us off balance.

  Are you holding on to more than you need? Is it time to change your focus? Take the challenge to cleanse yourself and your house of the extra you don’t want or need. It is work! But the joy of helping someone else could out weight the chore and put a song in your heart once more.


  By the way, I did make this one small purchase. I felt called to help my neighbor. : )

  Mary Jane Downs is a writer, speaker and teacher. She has been featured in Awe Magazine, Inspiredmoms.com and has been a guest blogger for the Boot Camp Writer’s Conference and TheSchoolbox.com. Contact Mary Jane at maryjanewrites@gmail.com or visit Mary Jane’s blog Joy in the Morning http://www.maryjanewrites.com



Confused About Your Purpose?

Confused about your purpose?
Have you ever walked from room to room, trying to remember what it was you needed to do? Confused, we scan every corner, hoping something jogs our memories. Temporarily, we have lost our purpose. Thus, we have two options.

One is to exchange our original purpose for a different one. While searching for the initial goal, we get sidetracked. Something else catches our eye. We begin to devote attention to that instead. (The pros and cons of diversions will be saved for another day!)

The other option is to stop and be still for a moment. Rather than flitting about, we pause and reflect. Mentally or physically, we retrace our steps. What were we doing before the search began and why? Usually, this quiet reflection reminds us of our mission.

In the past two years, I’ve made new friends who only know me as a writer. Too embarrassed to tell my “old” friends about my new pursuit of writing, it was a close-kept secret.  

Evidently, many people without writing degrees feel the same way. Last year, I attended a Christian Writer’s Boot Camp conducted by Christian Devotions. They made us say, “I am a writer” so many times we became more at ease with it!

I’ve been writing for years--journals, special programs, and various newsletter articles. It wasn’t until age forty-five I sensed God wanting me to do more with my writing.

Since then, it’s been somewhere between a smooth merry-go-round of ups and downs to an occasional roller coaster ride!

While I love learning the craft, the work is a lot more than I anticipated. Sometimes I forget my purpose for pursuing writing. I am sidetracked by a vast array of emotions and life events.

Most of my “old” friends know about my writing by now. Often times, they will ask me why I have chosen this field of work.

I tell them my purpose in writing is:

1.   To be obedient and honor my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

2.   To encourage others in their life journeys.

3.   To promote (and hopefully produce) excellent literature for children and young adults.

Writing for Children
There is so much “junk” out there--written material that pulls young people down into a miry pit. I plan to work hard and improve my skills. Lord willing, I hope to produce thought provoking work of “whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, and whatever is admirable…”  (Phil. 4:8)

Now you know my purpose in writing and can hold me accountable.

So, I guess that brings us to a third option when we forget our purpose. Share your goals with friends. Forget about being embarrassed. Good friends will support you.

They’ll remind you what it was you were doing and why.


“But indeed for this purpose I have raised you up,

that I may show My power in you,

and that My name may be declared in all the earth.”  Exodus 9:16


What about you? Don’t be timid about trying something new. If God is in it, His strength will shine through your weaknesses.
Be brave and share your goals. What is God’s purpose for you today?




Discovering Gold in Your Writing

"Prospector Man" and Pam Martin
“Thar’s gold in them thar hills!” During a recent mining expedition, I not only acquired real gold but gleaned some writing nuggets as well.

The Thermal City Gold Mine located in Rutherford County, North Carolina was our destination. Well-known for its authenticity, my son and I were excited about prospecting for gold.

Other enthusiastic families joined us in the hunt. However, a couple of hours into our dig, our youngest ones lost interest. They found more joy playing in the dirt.

Eventually, someone found a flake of gold. Yeah! I wanted to find gold! I picked up another handful of sediment and plopped it in my miner’s pan. Sloshing it back and forth in the water, just like the prospecting mentor taught us. Slosh, slush, slosh, slush. Nothing.

Another shout came from a gold-finder. It wasn’t I. One by one, almost everyone in our crowd found gold. I was happy for them. I wanted to be happy for me too. Slosh, slush, slosh, slush over and over again. Then I hit gold!

My yippee soon turned to an awww. It was just a flashy piece of mica. Slosh, slush, slosh, slush. Finally, there it was. I could hardly contain my excitement as I showed it to Mr. Prospector-Man. No flashy mica this time. He swirled it around in the pan a few times then told me to dump it. Whatever was in there was probably fool’s gold. I had been deceived again.

Slosh, slush, slosh, slush. The only thing the muddy water was producing for me was a cooling element from the sun. Frustration was setting in. Hours had passed and not a speck of gold. It was time for a lunch break.

The food and fellowship were great. There was renewed energy. After lunch, we worked together panning sediment that had gone through a filtering machine. Whatever gold, found in this sediment, would be divided equally among us.

As I stood there sloshing and slushing, I realized writing is similar to panning for gold.

·         It takes hours of work before you produce anything that has value. Then it takes many more hours to achieve your next golden nugget (which could be the next chapter or just the next sentence!)

·         It’s easy to get frustrated especially if others around you are celebrating success. While you rejoice with them, you still want your hard work to pay off and produce something awesome too.

·         It’s easy to get distracted with flashy words. Writers can become disillusioned with their work, thinking it is perfect when it’s not.

·         Don’t linger too long in the slush. Be thorough. Make steady progress. Realize when something you’re writing isn’t working. Dump it and start fresh.

·         Know when to take a break. It’s a valuable asset.

·         It helps to work with others, especially those who are skilled in the business. They have a keen eye that comes from years of experience. Learn from them.

Gold found at Thermal City Gold Mine
A collaboration of my friends enabled me to take home a small vial of gold nuggets, er...flakes. The gold didn’t bring me wealth but I’d say the experience was enriching.

Slosh, slush, slosh, slush.

How about you?
What nuggets have you gleaned from seasoned writers?