Wednesday, February 1, 2012
|"I toss upon the waves, but Thou dost steer, |
Thou Who standest at the helm of all that Thou hast made." --Augustine
Today is January 31st, at least for a few more hours here in Canton, GA. It's the last day of the first month of a shiny new year. How many memories are tucked away from 2011! Almost too overwhelming to begin listing them, so I'll just throw out a random scatter of photos from 2011.
I'm so grateful for my friends, my precious family and my memories. We've had some challenges to face in the past 12 months. But the Lord has blessed us abundantly...we are grateful. And yet, we are keenly aware of the losses and crosses others have borne in the past year far greater than ours. Give us grace, Lord. We need your mercy poured out on us in torrents, more than anything else this year.
Tornadoes swept through the South last year, destroying homes, ancient trees and taking loved ones away from us...Lord, help us to think in terms of eternity more than the moment.
2011 was a landmark year for my webinars as I held the second one and published accompanying study guides. My deep gratitude to Doug and Beall Phillips, dear friends and traveling companions, warriors for King Jesus and His kingdom.
Doug and Beall Phillips on the Seine in Paris...they are beautiful, n'est pas?
|My children were patient with me during all those webinars....weren't you?|
The summary of my webinars: Write right, right?
|..writing, proofing, editing...my study guides were finally finished!!|
Mercy took the photos, played the online roles, created the power points and ran the technical side...what a girl.
I love hats! More hats in 2012!!
|Mrs. Morecraft's second online writing webinar used the metaphor of food--we enjoyed a "cyber tea party."|
We had a visit or two from dear friends from a faraway land...Texas...sweet!
|I was blessed to be with the warriors...the Allens...in early September...|
|Lindsay and Brantley got married!|
Things I want to see and do more of in 2012...
|... visits by friends from far-away lands like Texas...|
|Sing with my sister Judy ...|
|...see more people coming to worship at Chalcedon Presbyterian in Cumming...|
|Spend time with friends I love but see too little of...like Kathy McDonald...|
|Go to San Blas again with my children and grandchildren...we missed it last year.|
|I pray my dear husband's numb hand is healed this year...please pray with me for that.|
|I want to read more to my grandchildren...|
|I want to sing! With Doug Phillips, my sister, my church choir, Joseph Bowman, my family and just sing alone to the Lord!|
Monday, May 2, 2011
I have wept over the losses my friends and total strangers have suffered this past week, some of them gone from this earth forever. One thought came to mind continuously: why them and not me? Why all those beautiful trees swept away and not mine? Why those quaint little towns and homes, churches and businesses worked for sometimes for years and not ours? Why those children, husbands, fathers, mothers and grandmothers and grandfathers taken and not me and mine? I do not have a rational answer to these questions. I would like to think it is because somehow I deserve God's favor, but, with David, "My sin(s) (are) ever before my face." There must be other reasons that I can't comprehend.
Noah was righteous in the sight of God and God spared him and his family while destroying the rest of the world. I, however, sense my unrighteousness keenly. I love the Lord, but often my priorities become skewed and my conscience seared concerning areas of my life that I should address but tend to ignore.
I am undeserving of God's mercy; and yet last week, He chose to take some of His children home to glory and leave me, a poor, struggling sinner, here for a while.
|"The Deluge," by artist Francis Danby c. 1837|
Here are some thoughts that have come to me from all of this:
My first thought is this: Like many of the folks who died during these tornadoes I may not have any warning when God takes me from this life. God may choose to take me out of this life with a fraction of a second to cry out to Him or say good-bye to loved ones or I may have no warning at all. Therefore, I must strive with all my being to live like someone who expects to die. Not living with dread and fear of death in some sort of morbid premonition that the sword hanging over my head is about to fall any second; but rather in a way that looks death in the face without fear because of Christ’s salvation, saying with the poet John Donne, "Death, be not proud...for, death, thou shalt die." The only way to live like this is to keep short accounts with sin and with our brothers and sisters, confessing our faults quickly and thoroughly, asking forgiveness sincerely and striving to mend broken relationships. Joe likes to quote someone as saying, "Live in such a way that when you die, that's all you have left to do," living in such a way that you have no regrets at the end of life.
|"Subsiding Waters of the Deluge," by Thomas Cole 1829|
|my eighth grandbaby sleeping on her mama|
|Joe and Honor Phillips at Kilmartin graveyard in Scotland|
Questions will come. We are created in the image of God Who is a personal being. Although He does not have a body or parts and emotions like His creatures, we are like Him in that we are personal, relational beings. We love to be loved. We crave interaction with Him and with other men and women. We glory in the work of our hands because God also loved His creation. When people we love or our works are destroyed, we grieve and suffer. The Bible recognizes this reaction as a natural one. We are told to “Rejoice with those who rejoice and grieve with those who grieve.” The Bible is full of many instances of those whose lives were devastated by loss, Job being a primary example. During these hard times, times of crisis, how do we handle the questions that come? When I have doubts and questions, griefs and sorrows, here’s what I ask God to help me do:
I try to focus my mind on what I know to be true about God, especially during times of crisis.
What do I know?
1. I know that the God Who planned and carried out the redemption of His elect through the death and resurrection of His only Son has a perfect plan for my life and the lives of all His creatures. All my days were planned out for me before I was created. Neither I nor any other person can lengthen or shorten my life. I am safe in the hollow of His hand. Psalm 139:16
2. I know that nothing can thwart God’s plan. No one, not the most sinful man who has ever lived, not even Satan himself, can cause anything to go wrong in God’s universe, for God is in control. He is the one true and living God, sovereign over all His creation, the God of providence Who is able to deliver His people from their enemies. No man can stay His hand from doing all His holy will. Psalm 45:5f
I can only see the immediate scene, the winds and the waves that cause me to fear. Despite my brave determination, when I start to sink beneath the sea of my sorrow and doubts, Christ Himself comes to me, through His powerful Word and Spirit, and brings me up out of the waves. I cannot walk on water. I cannot calm the storms of this life, but Christ Jesus my Savior can. Psalm 138:7
Augustine said: “I toss upon the waves; but Thou dost steer – Thou Who standeth at the helm of all things Thou hast made.”
3. I know that God is working all these things together for our ultimate good and His glory as He said He would. Rom. 8:28
4. I know that God made me to live faithfully in the light of what I know to be true, trusting Him for each day's strength and looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, to carry me through to the end of life, singing "Amazing Grace," and "Great is Thy Faithfulness," though death is staring me in the face.
5. I know I can trust Him, even in the dark.
Knowing all these things, I will not fear but trust the One Who knows the exact number of breaths I will take because He has mapped out my life for me.
|-- in the ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral, Scotland|
Saturday, April 2, 2011
|the heart-shaped tomato that changed my life|
"I have a confession to make though. Despite my less than perfect attitude, if I had not dutifully gone to gather the ripe tomatoes and other vegetables from the garden that day, life would have continued on its dull course without the amazing series of events that has led to all my happiness since. You see, on that day, I plucked a heart-shaped tomato and my life took a turn that I would never have expected and could never have planned."
Are you interested in my little story yet? I wanted to illustrate how it's possible to include food in a story without making it entirely about the food itself. Maybe I'll finish the story if enough people beg ;-)
I wrote this little vignette to lead into our Writing Contest Rule #1: please write about food. Food can be at the heart of your story (pun intended since mine is about a heart-shaped tomato), or simply included in some way. You can base your story, poem or article/essay on whatever premise suits you, but food must enter into to it at some point. That should set your brain to ticking right away, I hope!
1. Food must be included in the story, essay/article or poem in some way.
2. Contestants must have taken "Mrs. Morecraft’s Writing Webinar," either I or II, or both.
3. Contestants may enter as many times as they wish, noting that there will be a $10. entry fee for each entry.
4. The word limit for each entry is 1,200 words.
5. The contest submission time-frame is from April 15th to June 30th. The deadline for submission will be midnight, EST, June 30th.
6. Submissions should be made in hard-copy form, printed on plain paper in 12 or larger font, one and one-half inch spacing, and mailed, along with a check made out to Rebecca Morecraft with $10. per submission to: 300 Wrights Mill Way, Canton, GA 30115. Be sure to allow at least five days' time for me to receive it if mailed in the continental US. If you would like, you may also submit your entry to firstname.lastname@example.org However, the hard-copy is required for entry in the contest.
|Mrs. Rebecca Morecraft, the Poet-Laureate of the Vision Forum Quadricentennial Celebration at Jamestown, VA in 2007|
8. Prizes will include: editing by Mrs. Morecraft and her panel of judges, our efforts to have your winning entry published, either in a periodical or another venue, and various other books or prizes that will delight and inform, such as:
|This would make a great first-place prize!|
10. Have fun!
Suggestions for writing a winning entry: follow my example and Edit, Edit, Edit!!! You are almost never through editing as you rearrange, find better words, correct misspelled words and grammar, check punctuation, critique and accept suggestions, read your work aloud and edit some more!!! I still edit work that has already been published!! Really, I do...
|Mrs. Morecraft continued to edit her Jamestown 400 poem, "Remember & Persevere," even after she read it there!!|
Each entry will be judged by the following criteria:
1. grammatical accuracy
2. strong, imaginative imagery that avoids using tired, trite phrases, jargon or slang (unless the dialogue calls for it)
3. good lead sentences and first paragraphs, where applicable
4. clearly understood development of the theme or thesis, where applicable
5. a strong concluding paragraph
6. good sentence structure with strong nouns, verbs and properly used modifiers
7. for rhyming poems, strict adherence to the chosen meter
8. for all poems, whether rhymed or blank verse, strong, palpable imagery appropriate to the subject
9. in poetry, skillful use of internal rhyme where applicable
10. themes that capture interest for both poetry and prose
11. did the writing grab and keep our interest throughout, or was the piece
too rhetorical (instructional with little to keep interest in a storyline)
too artificial (either too silly and unbelievable or impossible situations)
12. With articles and essays, did the writer make and prove a point well? Was the thesis sentence stated clearly at the beginning and logically proved throughout? Did the piece have a strong conclusion?
13. In all types of writing, did the writer strike a chord with us so that we wanted to keep reading and felt satisfied when we finished reading it? We were either entertained, inspired or moved? Or was the piece easy to put down, even before the end? Was it enjoyable?
This final point is often the deciding factor for judges. If your writing moves us in some way that keeps us reading, holds our interest and leaves us wanting more, your submission has more winning potential than a piece that follows all the rules but doesn’t inspire, delight or instruct. Learning to grip your reader's emotions, not through soupy sentimental writing but in a way that strikes a chord in the heart, is more given than learned. Ask God for this ability as you write.
|My poetess/songwriter sister Judy Rogers|
"And whatever you do -- whether you eat or drink or whatever you do --
do it all to the glory of God." I Cor. 10:31
My sister Judy Rogers personifies this admonition. She is and has been for over 30 years an example of godly womanhood to me and all who know her through her music. Judy's songwriting and singing abilities have blessed literally thousands of people around the world as she writes and sings incredible songs, based on Scripture and sung to music that God gives her as she labors over her music and prays. Judy was a terrible piano student. I know because I tried to be her teacher. She doesn't read musical notation. Her music is all in her head, ear and heart and God has blessed it to come out in songs with complex musical scores that could compete well with the music of many schooled musicians. But Judy's writing and singing isn't about acclaim. She writes beautiful poems put to music to honor and glorify King Jesus, as well as in direct submission to her husband who first asked her to put the Shorter Catechism for children to music over 30 years ago.
Is that why you write? To glorify God? Or do you want people to sit up and take notice of you and say, "Wow, that girl is so intelligent and can write so well!" If you seek to honor yourself, God may decide not to see your goals met. But if you are diligent, as my sister has been and as I try to be, honing the gifts and graces He has given you to the best of your ability to bring Him glory, He sometimes sees fit to give you success. My prayer is that success will be yours in full measure as you write to make a difference in the world for Christ.
Maybe you won't win a place in this little writing contest. Don't be discouraged. All writing errors can be corrected. All writers can improve. Please don’t be despondent if your name doesn’t show up in the list of honorable mentions or in the winner’s circle. Keep journaling, writing letters and reading good writers as well as continuing with the vocabulary building and writing exercises we’ve brought to your attention. As you apply the suggestions we’ve mentioned in our classes and those you discover through other resources, attempt to apply them to your own writing. Keep reading your poems, essays, articles and papers aloud to your friends and parents and ask for suggestions for improvement. Submit them to various magazines that publish young writers -- learn from any comments they may make concerning your submission.
As you read great books on a variety of topics from many different eras and perspectives, your base of knowledge will be broadened and your ability to analyze and think expanded. Learn from these proven writers how to construct good sentences, find strong nouns and verbs as the building materials, how to use modifiers accurately, how to use discernment when describing a scene depicting emotions, how to write dialogue and especially how to create tangible, palpable imagery.
Remember that more is not better. Simple, clean writing is almost always best. Did you say what you mean and mean what you say? Sincerity and simplicity are key ingredients. Do you know your subject matter well enough to write about it? More research may be necessary before a word ever hits the page. Remember the pre-writing skills we studied during this last webinar? Mapping, asking yourself questions and other word-association techniques will boost the possibility of a winning entry.
|Take time to smile at someone -- every day!|
Ask anyone who will listen to your writing, “Does that make sense to you? What do I need to add? What do I need to take out? How could this be written to convey my point better? Do I need to re-write this or just start over?”
You will never improve as a runner if you don’t run or as a singer if you don’t sing or a rider if you never get on a horse. You will never become a better writer if you only practice writing skills occasionally. Write every day. Read every day. Ask the Lord to help you improve for His glory and He will.
Please pray for me as you think of me. I have a few big writing projects that I’d like to complete this summer. Pray that God will give me the freedom of time and the exact words to complete what I’ve begun for His glory.
|How do you know who you really are till you walk around in a pair of red cowgirl boots! Yee-haw!Fun!!!|