Descriptive Writing Exercise!

Is school work and/or writing getting a little hard as the weather gets warmer and Summer seems to be rapidly approaching? Try this fun descriptive writing exercise to take a break from the routine but still teach a better way to write! Look at the picture below:

There are several different methods we can use to describe this picture. We can describe the picture from left to right, top to bottom, or from the center outward. Let me show you three examples:

Left To Right:

“In a blur of rainbow colors, the train speed away down the track, not even pausing for a break on the way to its destination. The tattered advertisements on the walls were covered up for a brief moment as the train raced along. The roar of noise echoed through the tunnel and bounced off of the white tile floor and concrete walls. The man walking closest to the track barely seemed to notice the noise as he headed towards his next stop to wait, determination in his stride. Others walked slowly besides him, underneath the white florescent lights, trying to stay out of the way. A few paced the floor, the tap of their shoes only heard once the train left the station. It was the monotonous day’s commute. Trains racing too and fro, people standing with their backs up against the wall, waiting. Others rushing about in a desperation to make their connecting trains. No one was really friendly. It was just a sea of faces doing what they did every single day of their lives.”

Top To Bottom:

“Bright white lights shone on the white concrete ceiling and walls, making the underground train station appear unnaturally bright and almost hostile. Some of the commuters squinted a little as they watched the train race past. People hugged their coats to themselves as they made their way to their appropriate stops. The tunnel was a less than a warm and friendly atmosphere, but one that everyone was used to. The hustle and bustle of tons of moving feet on the dirty tile floor made a constant shuffling noise as everyone tried to stay out of each other’s way.”

Center And Out:

“A man with a heavy coat and a backpack slung over one shoulder walked quickly through the station. The train rushed past him in a whirl of noise and color, but he scarcely noticed as he looked down the long, bleak tunnel full of harsh light. No one really noticed anyone as they made their way along. He was vaguely aware of the people on his left that were standing and waiting, or pacing back and forth, or slowly following him to the next train stop. That’s all the mattered. Getting wherever you had to go quickly and getting out of the bleak and lonely tunnel and back to work.”

Do you see how every time I tried a new descriptive style the subject of the paragraph changed? The first paragraph (left to right) had the subject as the train because that’s what was seen/described first. The second paragraph (top to bottom) had the subject as the whole atmosphere of the train station with the focus being derived from the harsh light. The third paragraph (center and outward) had the subject being the man with the backpack and showed things from his perspective.

Go over these different ways of describing pictures with your children and show them the difference. Make sure they use as many big and expressive words as they can! Use a thesaurus if it would help!

Happy writing! :-)

Writing Tips for Young Struggling Writers

Hello Everyone!

I found this great link with writing suggestions for young writers who don’t like writing or who simply struggle to get their thoughts on paper. My parents used some of these with me when I was younger, and they really helped! I hope this is beneficial to you and your children!

http://simplehomeschool.net/authentic-writing/

Are We Like The Israelites?

I was reading a devotional on “Trust” this week, and found this post about anxiety and how it affects our trust in God. And then it linked that all back to the Israelites wandering around in the desert, which is what I’m writing about right now… So I wanted to share it with you all! I hope it’s an encouragement to you as it was to me!

“The underlying source of our anxiety – most, if not all, of it – is unbelief in God and a corresponding unwillingness to follow Him. That’s what the author of Hebrews was getting at in his letter. The Old Testament Israelites, about whom he was writing, had God’s presence to guide them by day and by night; they had all the food they could possibly need miraculously provided in the manna that God rained down from heaven, and they had the guarantee of God’s protection. Despite all this – God’s presence, provision, protection, and promises – the Israelites were constantly fearful about what might go wrong. As a result they were unable to find the heart rest that was available to them every moment. The author of Hebrews didn’t think it necessary to point out how hard it was for the Israelites to cope with life in the wilderness; instead he laid the source of their inability to enjoy peace squarely on their unbelieving hearts.

“If we would only believe that what is right here for us – life with the God who protects and provides – is sufficient, we would quickly discover that we have no need to seek our fulfillment anywhere else.” – Lydia Brownback

 

Great Writing Tips!

While researching some ways to improve my own writing, I found this awesome article with writing tips! Thirty-four authors and article writers put these together and some of them are so helpful! I hope this benefits your own writing as well as it has benefited mine! :-)

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/34-writing-tips-that-will-make-you-a-better-writer/

Underwater Ancient Egyptian City Discovered!!

This is soooo cool! A ton of new artifacts from Ancient Egyptian has been found…. UNDERWATER! It’s a whole lost city! And all of these neat artifacts are being brought up to the surface for research! I can’t wait to read more about this. :-) I hope you enjoy this new discovery as much as I have!

http://boredomtherapy.com/ancient-sunken-city-thonis-heracleion/

The Radio Theater Production is Done!!!

Hello Friends!

And now…. The announcement that you all have been waiting for for almost two years!!! “A Cry From Egypt,” book 1 in The Promised Land Series, is now in Radio Theatre form!! As of yesterday, the radio theater production, featuring a cast of over 50 people, narration by the author (me!!), over 250 sound effects and original music composed by Nathan Nasby, and the story that you all have grown to love, has been released to the world!! With the mastering done by Great Waters Press, it sounds phenomenal!! Do you like Jonathan Park, Adventures in Odyssey, Focus on the Family or Lamplight Theater? Then you will LOVE this radio theater adaption of “A Cry From Egypt”!

And for your listening pleasure…. :-) The first chapter of the radio theater production to show you just how amazing it sounds!

I can’t thank my many actors enough for all of their hard work! Or my publishers for mastering and for contacting our amazing composer! You won’t believe how amazing it sounds! I hope you all enjoy it! :-)

A Cry From Egypt Radio Theater Chapter 1

Buy the radio theater production HERE!

I’m Friends With A Guy… GASP! – Part 4

And now… Question #4 of the blog post series, “I’m Friends With A Guy… GASP!” Read the other blog posts here:

Introduction

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 

Question #4: “Aren’t you emotionally involved?”

Nope! I’m not! And of course, it’s taken me a little while to get here. But I’m so glad that I learned these lessons early on so that now that I’m older I know how to interact with people of the opposite gender. It makes my life – and the lives of those around me – much easier and definitely not as awkward as it would’ve been if I had shut myself off from boys at a young age. Because the fact is…

If you don’t know how to talk to guys (or girls!), what happens when someone wants to court/date you? You’re not going to know what to say, what to talk to them about, or if you even like this person! What if you aren’t even compatible? Wouldn’t it be smarter to at least have some friends of the opposite gender who are really just your friends, so that you know how to interact with them, and your potential spouse, in the future?

And this doesn’t necessarily have to be in groups all of the time, either! I love spending time in big groups of people. I feel you get to know people really well that way. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ever have a one-on-one conversation with a member of the opposite sex. I’ve been able to do this, cultivate good friendship, and not get married! :-)

For example…

I was taking music classes at a local college. I had several friends there, and we would often meet for lunch on the one day a week that I was going to school. On several occasions, I ended up just having lunch with one of my guy friends. Or at least having thirty minutes to an hour of time with a guy friend before others joined us. Did we plan for that to happen? No, we didn’t. Was it a date? Definitely not! It was just two friends eating sandwiches on the front porch of the music building, catching up on life and talking about classes. We never got super in-depth. Neither of us shared our hearts. We were open and had fun and had great conversations and got to know each other better. We were in a public place and got to meet some other college students, as well. It was a great time of refreshment and fun and getting to know each other. But no, we’re not getting married.

At Spiritual Twist Productions, we often have late night play practices or performances or stay out late going to get food because we’re starving. :-) The guys always make sure that the girls get to their cars safely, which we greatly appreciate it! On several occasions, I’ve ended up talking with a guy who’s having a hard time or who just wants to catch up on life. People know where we are. We’ve never shared anything inappropriate. We aren’t getting married. We’re just friends.

Several of us really like to contra dance! Recently, our contra dancing hall moved to a creepy area of town, and then moved to another building where the only parking was a parking garage. Being a girl, I don’t like to go to parking garages by myself at night. I actually don’t like going anywhere in the dark by myself for reasons of safety. My guy friends always make sure I’m ok getting to my car. Not because I’m not a capable young lady, but because they want me safe, and I want me safe. So, in order to not be stuck in a creepy/unsafe parking garage by myself, I met one of my adopted little brothers for dinner at Wendy’s and we both drove the ten minutes to the dance together. Was it a date? No. We’re just looking out for each other and eating cheap food and having a good time! :-)

Some of my friends and I wanted to support a locally made Christian movie. When I got to the theater, it ended up only being me and one of my guy friends. Did I get up and leave because it was awkward and uncomfortable? Nope. I trusted him, he trusted me, and we had a good time supporting a good movie. It wasn’t awkward at all!

Since I speak and travel to conferences, there has been several times when I’ve taken a road trip with one of my publisher’s sons. We drove for several hours together, listened to music, talked, sang, even had dinner and ice cream together. His parents knew that we were coming to join them. My parents knew that we didn’t want to drive two cars several hundred miles there and back and were totally fine with it. We both had a great time and got to know each other better. Again, no one thought we were getting married. We were two friends going to work at a conference.

In all of these instances, again, you have to communicate and be careful.

I communicated to my parents when we needed to go to conferences together. I told my parents every time I ended up being alone with a guy eating food or talking, even if it was just for a few minutes. They knew where I was, what I was doing, and who I was talking to. There’s accountability there. There’s trust built there. And most importantly, you learn how to be friends and how to encourage each other in Christ.

But of course, use common sense and young ladies, don’t go anywhere with a guy you don’t know or are barely acquainted with. Instead, invite them to your church, your home, other group events. Guys, don’t go off with young ladies, either. Show you want to be friends, but again, communicate and be careful.

I’ve had many guy friends who have had to correct me on things. There have been times I’ve been too judgmental, or actually been unkind or unfeeling. There’s been times that I’ve been gossipy, or down in the dumps and self-pitying, and I needed someone to pull me back up. There have been times when I’ve had an emotional break-down with a guy friend of mine on the phone when I called to apologize or talk about something. There have been times I’ve been struggling in my walk, and the only people around at the time were my guy friends. I’ve been sick and had guys pray over me and comfort me. All of these times have been wonderful periods of growth for me. The guys all handled themselves respectfully in pointing me back to Christ, encouraging appropriate and Biblical behavior, protecting me, or just giving me a hug when I needed one. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had shut guys out from interacting with me. I know I wouldn’t be the person or the Christian that I am today.

Allow God to use the people in your life, guys and girls, to teach you how to interact with people and how to grow into the person that He means you to be.

Stay tuned for the final part of this series, Question #5, coming in just a few days!

 

I’m Friends With A Guy… GASP! – Part 3

This is Part 4 of the blog post series, “I’m Friends With A Guy… GASP!” Click on these links to read the introduction and the other parts of this series!

Introduction

Part 1

Part 2

Here’s Question #3 that I talked about in the introduction to this blog post series:

Question #3: “Doesn’t being friends with guys mean that you’ve shared your heart with a ton of guys?”

Not really. Again, you have to be careful. But there are millions of things that I’ve shared with my girl friends and my parents that I would never dream of sharing with a guy until I’m courting/dating! My dreams, my hopes, my darkest secrets, my emotion swings, my plans for life in the future… Those are things to guard, to protect, to not tell the guys in my life.

Do you have to be cautious? Oh yes! But maybe not as cautious as you think…

Let’s take the 1 Timothy 5 verse I talked about in the introduction (1 Timothy 5:1, “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.”) It talks about treating young women and young men as brothers and sister in all purity. Hmm… Brothers and sisters in all purity…….

I don’t know about you, but I talk to my siblings! A lot! In fact, my brother and I were up really late talking just the other night about life! We talk about private things, but never too private. There are just lines we don’t cross because he’s a guy and I’m a girl. There are physical boundary lines that we don’t cross, as well. Do we give each other hugs? Yes! Do we talk about our lives? Yes! Do we really love each other and honor and respect each other? Yes! Do we go out and do fun things together? Yes! If those things are considered perfectly normal for siblings, than why can’t we talk to our brothers and sisters in Christ, or give them a hug, or talk about life, or meet each other for coffee or lunch or a movie? Maybe even drive to a church event together to save gas? Why can’t we do those things and realize that it’s all ok as long as we guard our hearts and just try to be friends and point each other towards Christ?

I hope you have a great relationship with your biological brothers and sisters. And if you do…. Why can’t you have a similar relationship with your brothers and sisters in Christ, who should be almost as dear and as close to you as your own brothers and sisters?

In fact, that’s something that’s helped me a lot in this journey – really seeing the guys in my life as my brothers. Oh, I’ve adopted quite a few of them. Most of them put up with me being their “big sister,” or “little sister” as the case may be. Yes, I’m pretty short compared to most of them. :-) But at the same time, if we truly see each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, there are less crushes. There’s less drama. Everything becomes more service-oriented instead of self-oriented. You care less about how you look or how you act or who notices you. You’re serving Christ’s kingdom together! And you end up becoming great friends! Not only that, but you get to learn what each other is really like. You never get to know someone better than when you’re serving with them and treating them as a sibling. Maybe you’ll even marry one of these guys/girls one day! Who knows? But until then, enjoy being a family and enjoy having lots of brothers and sisters who have your back, who love you, who are there to have a conversation with you when you need it, or give you a hug when you need it, or pray for you when you need it. Trust me. You won’t regret the friendships that you build with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Stayed tuned for Part 4 of the series, coming soon! :-)

“I’m Friends With A Guy… GASP!!!” – Part 2

This blog post series is the 3rd in the series, “I’m Friends With A Guy… GASP!!!” Read the introduction and part 1 here!

Introduction

Part 1

Now, onto Question #2 out of the questions I asked in the introduction!

Question #2: “Is that smart? Being friends with so many guys? Shouldn’t you be investing time in the girls around you?”

Oh but I do! Who says I don’t invest time in the girls in my life? Yes, this blog post series is generally about my guy friends. But that doesn’t mean I don’t invest time (and usually a lot more time!) in my relationships with my girl friends than my guy friends! I love my girl friends so much! I try and be a “Titus 2 Woman” even now. Yes, I’m not really that old yet. :-) But there are still girls that are younger than me that I can try to encourage and point back to Christ as God would want me to do based on that passage. Just because I may have more guys in my life than girls doesn’t mean that I don’t spend time with girls. I spend a ton of time with them!

I have three accountability partners who, like my parents, know everything about me. They are all girls. At my acting group, as I said, there are way more girls than guys. I’ve taken many of them under my wings to be their big sister and their friend, loving on them and discipling them as best as I can through God’s grace. I don’t have any biological sisters, and I’m thrilled that many of them have been willing to let me “adopt” them into my family. I’m much closer to all of them than I am with my guy friends currently – at least until I meet “the one.” They are beautiful treasures to me, and I would never trade their friendships for the world! They’re girls, and generally speaking, they know me better than most guys ever will.

And while I definitely want to encourage good and godly guy/girl friendships, I do want to stress that it’s important to be a friend to all, and particularly that you need to make sure you have accountability partners be of the same gender as you. Guarding your heart is important. That doesn’t mean that you can’t talk to guys/girls about the deeper things of God. But your most intimate thoughts shouldn’t be shared around with any young men, or young women as the case may be. Reserve the deepest thoughts of your heart for God, your parents, your accountability partners, and your future spouse alone.

Have those earnest and godly relationships with members of the same sex first before you begin closer friendships with members of the opposite sex. My accountability partners watch me and let me know when I’ve crossed lines or need to not be so friendly around the guys in my life. They help me stay guarded and truly stay “just friends” with the guys I’m around. Their relationship and insight is invaluable to me. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

Again, this all comes down to good communication. Also, humility and teachability. Listen to your accountability partners and make sure you’re investing in everyone in your life, not just singling out the guys or girls as the case might be. Remember that we’re here on earth to serve others and live for others, just as Christ came to serve and live for us.

Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Emphasis mine.)

Stayed tuned for Question #3 in just a few days! :-)

“I’m Friends With A Guy… GASP!” – Part 1

This blog post is a continuation of the series “I’m Friends With a Guy… GASP!” You can read the introduction to this series here:

http://acryfromegypt.com/2014/09/im-friends-with-a-guy-gasp-introduction/

In the introduction, I introduced five questions that people might/sometimes do ask me about my friendships with guys. In this post, I’m going to discuss the first question.

Question #1: “How do you do spend time with guys and have friendships with guys without having crushes or attractions to them?”

In a nutshell, my answer is…

Carefully.

Oh I’m not denying that there are times when it can be hard! Between the ages of 9-15, I really struggled in this area! Which is one of the reasons that I have my character, Jarah, in “A Cry From Egypt” and “A Stand At Sinai” learning from her (and my!) mistakes. I’ve had many “crushes.” Some of them I’ve handled well. Some of them I haven’t, just like my character, Jarah. I’m happy to tell you now that I don’t have a crush on anyone and I haven’t for some time.

How did I do it?

I prayed. A lot.

I prayed before I was around guys. I prayed as soon as the thoughts came to mind. I turned my focus to Christ instead of on the guys and what they might think of me. And you know what? God has helped me to change my thoughts and to truly see these young men as brothers in Christ. They’re people I’m going to war with against the flesh and the devil, not people that I’m trying to woo and win.

I’ve also talked with some of my “little brothers” about this when they’re struggling with their emotions towards girls. Those that have prayed and turned their attention towards Christ every time that girl came to mind said that it has really helped them in their struggle to guard their hearts.

And here’s the other way I avoid this.

Communication.

Whoa. There is the one word to change the course of all of the guy/girl parent/child issues today!

My parents know everything about me. Literally everything. From the time that I was young, they cultivated a very open relationship between myself and them. They know my deepest and darkest secrets, my sins, my crushes. They know it all! That means they also know who I spend my time with and why. My parents watch the people in my life, particularly the guys, and make sure that everything is ok. They know who I’m with, when I’m with them, and why.

Now at the same time, they are not control freaks. While I do live at home with them, work with them, and serve with them, they allow me to have my own friends and my own life. They want to know my friends, but they aren’t constantly on top of me – dictating my schedule or making me get approval from them every time I need to step out of the door to go to Wal-Mart. They ask me gentle questions about what I’m doing, where I’m going, who I’m seeing, and then ask me how my day was when I get back home. They genuinely care and are genuinely interested. Instead of them controlling my life, I come to them wanting to talk to them and wanting their advice. I understand that this might not be the case in every household. If you wish it was the case in your household, then pray, show them this blog post, and start a conversation! Communicate!

My parents also respect the fact that if, for example, a guy friend of mine shares a prayer request with me that’s a little more private, I won’t tell my parents what it is. But at the same time I’ll explain that “so and so is having a hard time right now and needs prayer.” When the situation is resolved and there’s not an issue of trust being broken, then I can fill them in. My parents have watched me and guided me and they now trust me and my interactions with everyone I’m around.

Opening up to your parents and talking to them about everything is the best thing that you can possibly do, besides pray.

Also, if a guy (or girl, as the case may be) seems to be rather friendly towards you, don’t immediately shut them off or pawn them off to your father or mother. Maybe he just wants to be a friend. Maybe he wants to be more. But how is he supposed to get to know you or you get to know him if you shut him down before you even have a chance to talk to each other? Again… Communicate!

I’m a very friendly person, which can sometimes be interpreted as being flirty. I never try to be flirty at all. But I know of at least one or two guys who both thought I liked them for a little while until they realized that I treated every guy exactly the same way. It wasn’t that I had singled them out. I was just really friendly! Once they realized that I wasn’t singling them out, they relaxed, and we now have a very good friendship where we both know that there’s nothing else there. That wouldn’t have been the case if they had immediately shut me out and not at least been open to being friends.

Communication with your parents, communication with your friends, and communication with your Lord are essential to this area of your life.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, coming in just a few days!