A Conference to Remember Part 2

Here’s the followup to last week’s conference message.

The Keynote Address for the FCW Conference was given by Brian Bird, a 30-year veteran of the Hollywood film and televison business. Brian’s writing and producing work comprises nearly 250 episodes of network television, including Touched by an Angel, and his own original series currently airing on the Hallmark Channel, When Calls the Heart. Through him, the Lord challenged me to keep writing to keep his truth alive and to inspire others to write to praise him.

Torry Martin, an award-winning actor, screenwriter, and comedian, has written feature length scripts. He taught a continuing class, “Writing Screenplays for Everything, but the Big Screen.” He is an enthusiastic, humorous, very creative catalyst. We had great fellowship and in our conversations, I was humbled when he asked me to collaborate with him on a coming project.

Three publishers expressed an interest in my Biblical studies on Prayers of the Bible and my devotionals.

The conference climaxed with the Awards Banquet Dinner and I was humbled again when I received second-place winner in non-fiction for my Memoir, Naked With Clothes On, and completely overwhelmed with first-place winner in poetry for my Haiku Cluster.

I came away from the conference inspired, encouraged, challenged, and full of new ideas and directions. I am thankful for God’s confirmation that he wants me to continue writing my devotional blog Guarded Hearts and devotional articles for Christian Broadcasting Network.

There are other conferences that we as Christians have attended and been blessed and encouraged by. How about sharing your challenging and encouraging ones with me?

Remember, the new name for my blog is GUARDED HEARTS.

A Conference to Remember

Last week my wife and I had the privilege of attending the Florida Christian Writers Conference at Lake Yale in central Florida. What an exciting adventure from the moment we registered on Wednesday afternoon and picked up our room key until we left on Sunday afternoon after lunch.

The time was filled with speakers, appointments with publishers and critique personnel, continuing classes and workshops. I learned so much from them as I had opportunities to talk about my writing – haiku, memoir, devotionals, and Bible studies for small groups. Outstanding!

But the most rewarding experience was spending time with Christian people who have the same love for our Lord and want to share it through their love of writing.

Marti Pieper, chaplain for the conference, critiqued my memoir, Naked with Clothes On. Diane Matthews critiqued my devotionals and also taught 3 days of 2-hour classes honing our skills in devotional writing.

More about it next week. In the meantime, I would love to hear from you if you have ever attended a Christian Writers Conference, or any other Christian Conference. It’s a time of getting to know fellow believers who are also on life’s spiritual journey. What a time we are having on this earth, and we only see through a glass darkly until we are eternally with the Lord.

I am asking the Lord to help me improve my writing skills so that they can “Spur one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24).

NOTE THE NAME CHANGE: The blog name has been changed from Umbilical to Guardedhearts.

Post-Christmas Reflections




Now that credit cards are maxed out, gifts exchanged and/or returned, resolutions vowed to spend less next Christmas on gifts, rethinking the real purpose for exchanging gifts, and shredding Santa’s wish lists, can I take the liberty to share a gift idea?

When faced with a gift for my wife, I asked what can I give she can’t wear, she can’t eat, and she can’t set around the house as a trinket? I awoke one night with The Twelve Days of Christmas on my mind, a song my wife really likes.

Bingo! Why not a play on those words with The Twelve PRAYERS of Christmas?

So I started writing down some of her needs and wants and eventually had a list of twenty. I prayed for wisdom as I reduced them to twelve prayers. I hope you enjoy reading three of them as much as I enjoyed composing them.

On the First Day of Christmas my true love prayed for “more meaningful occasions to fulfil my music needs.” On the Sixth Day of Christmas my true love prayed for “me to find more opportunities to socialize and fellowship with my sisters in the Lord,” and On the Ninth Day of Christmas my true love prayed for “me to strengthen my holy habit of daily, personal Bible study.”

I have written this devotional to “stir up in my brothers and sisters in the Lord to love and good works.” It’s something I wanted to share. Maybe it challenges you to come up with a special idea for your loving spouse. Anyway, just enjoy something different from me.

Under Construction

under constructionWhen the second semester of my freshman year in college began, I had two roommates. Then we were assigned another roommate, Bob, an aspiring violinist. I assumed we’d have an accomplished musician serenading us to sleep at night. However, the second afternoon I came to the dorm from my last class, I knew I was a little more than optimistic.

Now, I was raised on a farm and had heard lots of barnyard sounds, but Bob was in competition with a choir of squealing pigs, running for their morning mud bath. Listening to his bow being dragged across the violin strings was enough to make me want to jump out the 2nd story dorm window to escape the torture.

One day I asked him what he was practicing, and he said, “Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Violin.” I hoped that Vivaldi was deaf, for if not, he probably turned over in his grave several times when Bob practiced. We convinced him to practice the same time each day and, during that time, we studied in the library or hung out with friends.

I wish I had known this Scripture then: “Each of you should look not only to your interests but also to the interests of others.” I was not much of a conversationalist, but I could have asked him why he started playing the violin, if any of his family were musicians, or what his music goals were.

God was being good to this uncultured farm boy, for he was teaching me, not only to accept others with diverse personalities, but also to learn that others accepted me for who I was. My roommates were not critical or condemning of me for being different from them. I hoped both Bob and I would be fast learners.

Since I was learning that all things happen by divine appointment, not by coincidence, the “Father of Lights” was opening my eyes to practicing Philippians 2:4. Together we roommates started building a fellowship of believers, all under construction, learning, sometimes painfully, that we need each other.

To my delight I got a postcard from Bob a few years later, letting me know he was playing violin in the church orchestra. He didn’t play in Carnegie Hall, but more important, he was playing for the Lord and not for himself.

So when someone annoying works in the cubicle next to you or you have a neighbor that seems disagreeable, get to know his interests and his ideas, and then share some of your life with him. Remember Bob, the squeaking violinist, whose perseverance and determination enabled him to serve the Lord with his music. And remember, we’re all under construction.
Excerpted from my soon-to-be published memoir, Naked With Clothes On.

Photo used with permission from 1234rf.com