~ Tangled Motivation


I was talking to a writer the other day who said this, “I’ll have to see if I can find some motivation.”

I wanted to scream. I have news for those who are still in the dream world of “finding motivation.”

Motivation can’t be found. Unlike lost keys, or even the coin of great worth, motivation can’t be found. It’s not lost. Motivation is made.

It’s not made from feelings, or emotions, or delivered by a muse, or even from on high. Motivation can only be formed by rational, deliberate, intentional decisions.

God Himself can’t and won’t motivate you. Not that He’s not all-powerful, but because His first priority is to give us the complete freedom of CHOICE. He made a plan before time began. Every nuance of history and the future was woven before the first man was formed. There are no tangled threads in God’s tapestry.

We, however, are overwhelmed with choices and decisions to make. Therein lies the problem. We let the overwhelmingness of our days keep us from being intentional. We take the easy and lazy way out. We deceive ourselves into believing that it’s all too much. But it’s not too much. God doesn’t leave us hopeless and helpless. He put within every believer His Spirit to guide us into all wisdom.

We make thousands of decisions every single day. What percentage of them do we make after asking for His help? “Pray without ceasing” takes on a whole new light, doesn’t it?

Do you want to get things accomplished? Reach your goals? Work on the real priorities, instead of being sabotaged by the subterfuge of instant gratification?

Make some real decisions! Motivation will follow.


~ New Beginnings


In preparing for our upcoming art show, “New Beginnings” the thought occurred to me that I might have other artwork lying around that could be used besides the paintings I’m preparing  just for this exhibit. So I took a little tour around the house and came across this early painting. The subject was perfect ~ what says new beginning like the first adorable flowers of spring? Unfortunately, the paper was covered in foxing ~ those little or not-so-little rust colored specks that go right through the paper. It was polka-dotted with the ugly things.

I got on the internet and looked up foxing and what to do to get it out of the paper. It all looked so complicated, and the only thing I had on hand was the bleach which was only one step in the process. Would just that first step do it? How much of the watercolor would fade? Was I willing to risk it for this one show? I certainly didn’t have time to get it back from a conservator before Friday. It was one of only two early watercolors I have left, and I’ve always been fond of it ~ it would grieve me to lose it.

After the agony of deliberation, I decided to give it a try. After all, it was ruined as it was, and by the time I got it to a conservator, it might be too late to save it anyway. The foxing was already all the way through the paper.

So I did it ~ I took the plunge. I prepared a pan of water with a small amount of bleach and submersed my darling little painting. After soaking for almost two hours, the stains were still there, so I left the studio for lunch, telling myself not to stay too long. At that point the colors were still strong.

Of course you know I got involved in a book and forgot all about my little painting sitting in the tub of bleach solution. When I got back to the studio, the first thing that I saw were my little crocuses, just starting to bleed out purple. I rushed the painting to the sink and dumped the water from the pan, rinsing it while holding the painting, worrying about the bleeding watercolor. It was only a tiny amount, but it was clearly starting to run. I filled the pan with rinse water and gently floated the painting, flipping it over. I did it twice more with fresh pans of water. At that point the bleeding had rinsed away. How much of the color would remain once the painting dried? The drying process was accomplished with less stress, thankfully.

You can see the result. The colors are once again as bright as when it was freshly painted, and the paper is truly white. There is no purple even though that’s how the photo appears. I’m not sure the camera knew what to do with those intensely purple flowers.

I think you’ll agree that this painting has experienced its own New Beginning.

One day we’ll be wearing white, and our true colors will shine. Until then, we take it by faith that our stains have been washed away. We have value and beauty and serve a purpose ~ each of us designed by the hands of the one who created us for his good pleasure.


~ Cupidity

Cupidity Cupid

February ~ the month of desire–longing–languishing. The month above all months when desperation can make a fool of the most avowed bachelors and bachelorettes. We’ve all been there, done that. It starts early. Somewhere around preschool or before. Gets old, doesn’t it?

Girls and women look for someone to sweep them off their feet and tell them they’re beautiful. Boys and men want someone to admire them, tell them they’re enough.

Just like that old apple (pomegranate) in the garden, we look for a substitute for the real deal. Eve wanted knowledge, as if the God she walked in the garden with every day didn’t have all the answers. Adam chose Eve’s approval over God’s. Isn’t that so much like what we do when we seek, no–desperately desire, the love, companionship and adoration of a lover? No one will ever admire you, adore you, affirm you–love you–like God. No one. Get it into your immature mind. We already HAVE the most perfect love there is. We have a God who delights in us–actually rejoices over us so much that he bursts into song, just thinking about us!

Run into his arms ~

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

~ Self-Help is Rot

2015-09-27 17.38.30

This picture and the title may be all you need for this God-Glimpse.

Our very best efforts to repair ourselves turn out like this–a bad idea made worse by lack of experience, resources and patience.

Rot started the problem. A section of the rafter had to go before the fungus spread to the rest of the roof. We paid someone to repair the roof,  but noticed a couple of years later that the roof was sagging again, in the same location. It wasn’t enough to remove just a section of the board, the entire rafter should have been replaced with new. No wonder the roof was sagging!

It’s not enough to get rid of sin, bad habits or even weaknesses; they must be replaced with the proper support, or the roof of our good intentions will soon leak and eventually cave in.

Only The Master Carpenter has the experience, resources and patience to repair the rot of our lives. Only His Word is strong enough to shore up the roof over our heads.

Replace the old rafters of your life with new Living Words from the Father of Life.

God Glimpses #20 – 2 WILD 4 U


The second I pulled close to this car, jealousy ensued.

4Runner,  2WLD4U license plate . . . Adventure!

Seriously, images of myself with a rifle, highjacking said car, crossed my mind.

Then I remembered that I was driving my daughter back from a non-visit with a specialist. Why a non-visit? Because I had the day right, but the month was wrong. I make my own adventures. Who needs to go to the wilds for adventure?

For all I knew, that person ahead of me might be miserable down south in Philadelpha, sweating in shorts, while I was bundled up for the cold, wishing for spring.

It’s all perspective. God says don’t look on other people’s things, their lives, look to your own. Do what you’re supposed to do. Be who He made you to be.

Embrace your own adventure. There is so much good to see where we are.

God Glimpses #15 – Sticking with it.


We pulled up to a traffic light next to this artist, who was using his steering wheel as an easel.What struck me was the dedication. The painting was incredibly good, and the van was pretty grubby. (looks pretty good in the photo compared to reality)

This guy  is obviously not getting rich with his talent, but he’s not letting that stop him. God created him to create, and he’s creating. That’s sticking with it.

The writer’s conference was humbling–in a good way!

The writer’s conference was humbling–in a good way!

What a lesson in humility! Was I humbled? Yes, but not in the sense that we usually say it. I was uplifted, and because of that I was humbled.

Just one year ago I attended my first-ever writer’s conference. This year I was on the faculty. What an amazing year of open doors and possibilities! I owe so much to Marlene Bagnall, the founder of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer’s Conference. In the past year we have gotten to know each other because her writer’s fellowship meets monthly not far from my home, and I jumped at the opportunity to attend. During this past year she was able to see and critique my writing, and I had the privilege to get to know her, and learn from her.

What an amazing group of writers she leads. The humility runs from the top down in that group. There is an amazing variety of writers, and an even more amazing variety of life stories, many of real pain, of lives brought through the fire of loss, sickness, and more. It is a place of being real, of sharing God’s amazing provision, grace and promotion.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that this group of writers were writers  because they had to write, and they were no different than myself. What do you do with that kind of trauma in your life? You can drink, or you can write it down. We chose to write, and in the writing, sought answers from our Heavenly Father, who preciously answered those hard questions, sometimes with equally hard answers, but always in love.

So, here I am, the newbie in the group, and learning so much from these successful writers, and then Marlene asked me to teach one of the segments of Teens Write, based on what she has seen of my writing and because of my experience as editor of J.A.M. magazine. It took me a while to come to grips with that, but once the shock settled in, I realized that to say no to such an opportunity would be a slap in God’s face. When He opens a door, we need to walk through! To do less would be the height of ingratitude.

Even though I struggle with self-esteem, He doesn’t. He has prepared me and opened doors so many times before. My failure is in seeing those things that don’t work out in my life as failures. But He doesn’t see my failures as failures, He sees them as lessons, and advancement. In preparing my bio for the many proposals and manuscripts that were requested by editors and agents at the conference, it finally clicked.

I have a pretty impressive bio! And that’s when I finally saw it. I would never have done so much, met so many wonderful people, without those ‘failures.’ I would still be doing the first thing I ever tried, because it worked. My artwork would never have made it to the White House, I would not have watched my proteges interview people so famous that the kids and I were both shaking with fear during the interview. I would not have been able to expand my knowledge in so many areas and enjoyed so much! God is good!

The teaching part of my conference was fun, and my daughter even said she enjoyed my part the best. (Brownie points, I’m sure.) Thank you, Pam Halter, for the how you lead the way.

At the closing ceremony I listened as Marlene announced two prizes that are given annually, one for a published author and one for an unpublished author. She started telling all about this wonderful unpublished author with so much potential, and I sat dreaming of the day when I might be worthy of receiving such a prize . . . and then she announced the authors name and it was . . . Joy Kieffer!

As I walked down that long isle to receive my award, all I could think of was how many people in that room deserved it more, had worked longer and harder (did I mention that my book was ten years in the making?) and paid more to come. Yes, I’ve been studying the art and business of writing diligently for years on end, and done everything within my power to do the best job possible, but still, I’m a newbie! I heard the story of one writer who came all the way from Australia to attend–didn’t she deserve it just for coming? But, no, this was my prize, one that God saw fit to give me at this moment in time. God opened a door; it was my job to walk through and accept His challenge to go farther, see more and be more.

I was able to schedule a lunch meeting to speak to Ted Baehr, the founder of Movie Guide magazine and the Christian Film and Television Commission about a film project I am working on. I also attended two of his classes. What a lesson in humility and listening to the Spirit of the Lord as he ministered. We were interrupted several times during our lunch meeting, and he was gracious and thoughtful with each person. During the class times he stopped to pray several times, sensing the need for divine intervention in the lives of people in the room. He invited me to attend his screen-writers camp, (clear across the country) saying that my film project was a great script idea. Who knows, God may provide a way. (Thank you, Dr. Ted, for listening to and obeying God.) If you want to see what a person can become who walks through God’s open doors, read up on this amazing servant of God.

Wherever I went throughout the conference, I was constantly met with hearts of humility and encouragement; prayers and tears and joy were shared with faculty and attendees. I ministered and was ministered to. So many names of new friends are burned into my heart, and friendships with ‘old friends’ deepened. There may have been a faculty member there who thought they were hot stuff, but I didn’t meet them. What I have found out in this past year is this–God promotes the humble.

Oh, wait, that’s in the Bible, isn’t it?