Blog Archives

Standing Up for What You Believe

Recently, a senator claimed that a nominee was unqualified to serve in the government because he believed in “Christ alone” for salvation. Business owners took their case all the way to the Supreme Court and won the right to only offer health insurance that complied with their faith. Christian florists, bakers, photographers and calligraphers have been sued because they refuse to do work for same-sex weddings. These weddings go against their deeply held beliefs that God designed marriage for one man and one woman.

How can you, as a Christian writer, support fellow believers who take a stand for their faith? How can you encourage other believers to stand strong when their faith comes under fire? What do Christians need to know about the law and their freedom of religion?

Devotions

To stand strong for their faith, Christians need to be strong in their faith. What verses can you use for your devotion? What anecdote can you share? How can you remind Christians that we will face persecution? How can you help them stand strong in the face of persecution?

How can you remind your readers to love their enemies? What does that look like? How would Jesus respond? How can they react in Christlike ways while refusing to back down?

How-To and Personal Experience

Share your own story or someone else’s story. What takeaway value can you give them? What worked? What didn’t work? Where can they find the resources they need to protect themselves when they face opposition? What practical steps can they take? How can they build a support group during their trial?

What experts can you interview? What organizations can you research? Share the insights these specialists offer.

Writing for Children

Children and teens are told they can’t pray in school, use school facilities for Bible meetings or mention God in graduation speeches. What does the law say? How can you help children and teens stand strong when “authorities” deny their rights? How can you encourage them to demonstrate Christ’s love in the face of trials?

The Founders of this country wanted to protect our religious freedoms from the government, not protect the government from people of faith. As writers, we can help them stand up for what they believe.

© Deborah Christensen

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Plowing Together: Is It True or Not? — Please Comment

In this age of “fake news,” many writers get their ideas from the news and current events. How do you assess whether it’s true or not?

Please comment. Your insights may help someone else.

Helping Aging Parents Navigate the Later Years

I am blessed to have my parents still with me. They are in their 80s and relatively healthy. But, they are slowing down. As their children, my sister and I help them with whatever they need. Other family members help, as well. A few weeks ago, their grandsons removed old railroad ties and pulled weeds from their back yard.

A couple of years ago, my mom was in the hospital. My dad walks with a cane and my mom occasionally needs a walker. Their physical limitations are growing but manageable. My mom still does laundry in their basement, refusing to allow us to help her with the stairs. They drive. And, they take care of my aunt, who lives in a nursing home. They want their independence.

How do you know when it’s time to step in? How do you help parents know when it’s time to stop driving, to move to an assisted-care facility or to get them in-home care? What are the healthcare options for aging parents? What do you do when you see signs of dementia? How do you help them without treating them like children?

We will encounter aging issues with our parents. How can we, as writers, help our readers know where to look for answers?

Share your own story. What worked for you? What didn’t work? What do you wish you had done differently?

Write a how-to piece. This will mean research. Talk to experts in the field and share their insights. Offer practical tips that your readers can use. Help them find the right government agencies, choose the right nursing home, find the best living situation that works best for their family.

Write a devotion. Use verses that talk about honoring parents and defending the defenseless. Help your readers understand that God commands us to care for our parents, forgive them for their mistakes and serve them until He calls them home.

Use fiction or poetry to share your insights. This is an indirect way to guide your readers as they deal with these issues.

Consider doing a tie-in to Mother’s Day. How has the meaning of Mother’s Day changed, now that your parents are aging? What are special ways to honor your aging mom?

As people live longer, more of us need direction to help our parents navigate the later years. Our parents took care of us. Now, it’s our turn. And, as writers, we can walk beside our readers because they’re navigating new territory, too.

© Deborah Christensen

 

Gleaning Writing Ideas from Election Issues

stars_and_stripesTomorrow, we head to the polls and vote. The policies that each candidate supports couldn’t be more different from each other. I’m not here to influence your vote. I want to help you look at some of the issues and find writing inspiration there.

Abortion

What can you write on this issue? How can you encourage your readers to protect the unborn and choose life? What stories can you tell?

Do you know a couple whose doctor suggested they abort their Down’s Syndrome baby but they didn’t? Tell their story. Do you know a woman who chose life for her unborn baby, even though it brought difficulty? Share her story. What about a woman who gave her child up for adoption in order to give the child life? Or, someone who was adopted? What about someone who survived an abortion? These are all stories you can offer to your readers.

Write about what really occurs during an abortion. Help readers know that the unborn baby is more than a “clump of cells.”

As Christians, we’re called to respect life. As writers, we can help our readers respect it, too.

Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion hangs in the balance for this election. What can you write about this issue? How can you encourage your readers to fight for their Christian values?

Do you know anyone who was forced to violate their faith in the name of “tolerance”? What price did they pay if they refused? Tell their story. What value did the Founding Fathers place on religious freedom? Teach your readers how important it is and what consequences we face if we lose it.

We can help our readers fight for what belongs to us constitutionally.

Respect for the Military

Both active-duty military and veterans face issues that will be impacted by this election. From care at the VA to military readiness, they need our support.

Do a researched investigative report. Tell a personal story. Interview a military family. Help your readers understand the issues they face.

 

What are the issues that you’re passionate about this election? Supreme Court? Taxes? Immigration? Healthcare? The economy? Education? Write about these issues. Use them in your fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Don’t forget about them after the election is over. Continue to write and encourage your readers to stand up for what they believe.

© Deborah Christensen

Friday Fun Facts: An Adventurer Comes Home

Jack London, known for his short stories, including White Fang and The Call of the Wild, and his novels, including The Sea-Wolf, wrote from his experiences. He searched for gold in the Klondike and spent months on a seal-hunting expedition. On this day in 1893, he returned to San Francisco from that expedition.

Friday Fun Facts: All the President’s Men

On this day in 1972, five men were caught after they broke into the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel. They were trying to bug the offices. Two young reporters at the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, received the assignment to handle this “minor” story by their editor, Ben Bradlee. The minor story turned into one of the biggest scandals in history and brought down a president. They wrote the bestselling book All the President’s Men, which was published in 1974. It detailed their hunt for the truth.

Plowing Together: Using Summer Activities as Writing Inspiration – Please Comment

Summer is filled with activities that we don’t do during other times of the year: trips to the beach, vacations, outdoor activities, new and exciting adventures. How do you keep thinking as a writer while you’re engaging in summer fun? How do you glean writing ideas from your summer activities?

Please comment. You might inspire someone else.

Ideas with Integrity

lamp and snowThis past week, the top-rated TV news anchor came under fire for embellishing—lying about—news stories. Witnesses have come forward to say that his version of events in Iraq and during Hurricane Katrina did not happen.

These stories would’ve made great fiction. But as news stories, they lack integrity.

Several years ago, I attended a conference held by a Christian press association. One of the speakers was a well-known and award-winning journalist. He enthralled us with stories of life in war zones. He told us amazing tales of miracles. You could hear a pin drop in the room.

I remember one of those stories. He claimed that he needed to escape a frightening situation. God opened up an alley where none had existed so that he could get away.

A few months later, he was fired from his job for lying in his stories. He was so well-known and so many people had trusted him for so many years that it made the news. I felt foolish. Here I was, a professional editor, believing spectacular stories with no proof or corroboration.

As Christian writers, we need to make sure that we use our ideas with integrity. Is it true? Are we claiming it’s true? Are we “embellishing” our ideas? Would it work better as fiction?

On the other hand, we also need to be wise when contemplating the idea of telling someone else’s story. We can’t believe something just because someone tells us it’s true. God does work miracles. But as writers, we need to do our research. Can we verify the details? Who else witnessed it? What is their perspective? How trustworthy is the person telling us the story?

We need to write with integrity. Embellishing our ideas might make us look more spiritual or blessed in a special way. However, it brings dishonor to the Kingdom of God.

Accepting someone else’s embellished story also dishonors God. If we naively write a story of a miracle without checking the facts, we look foolish and we perpetuate the stereotype that Christians just look for the sensational.

God works in powerful ways. We don’t need to enhance the story. We need to tell the truth.

© Deborah Christensen

The Fertile Fields of Old Friendships

hibiscusSeveral weeks ago, I attended my 35th college reunion. I hadn’t seen some of the people in 35 years. As we reconnected, it was as if the 35-year gap never existed.

We talked about the joys of grandparenthood, the healing after losing a spouse, the difficulties and blessings of remarriage, and the pain of watching our parents decline. Teachers talked about the state of education today. Runners talked about bodies that are 35 years older.

It was a joy to spend time with these old friends. And when I thought about our time together later, I realized that many of the things we talked about would make great topics for articles, devotions and fiction.

Share the Stories

I’ve never experienced the loss of a spouse. But, one of my old friends did. Look for stories that you can share.

What did they learn from their experience? How did God help them through it? How did they come out on the other side? If they’re still in the middle of the struggle, how do they keep going?

Write personal experience articles, how-to articles, poetry and devotions, all using your friend’s story as the foundation. Let the story inspire your fiction. Create a character who faces those obstacles and show how the character struggles and grows through it.

Address the Topics

I’m not a teacher but one of my old friends is. My parents are fairly healthy. But, one of my old friends is dealing with caretaking her parents. I’ve never had cancer but several of my old friends are survivors. Your old friends can become your “experts.”

Your old friends have a perspective that you may have never thought of before. Or, they may have experience with an issue that you don’t. Tap into their expertise. Get their insights.

If you’re writing something that requires research, contact one of your old friends who knows about that issue. Their information will help you with your research, but it may also spark new writing ideas.

Relish old friendships. But, also look for writing ideas that may be hiding in those relationships.

© Deborah Christensen

Stories from a Summer Vacation

garden of the gods desertSummer is over half over – at least if you think of summer going from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Chances are that you will take a summer vacation at some point. You’ll see new places, explore a different city or hike through nature, try new food, and spend time with the people you love. As you create memories with your family or friends, look for writing ideas and think about the insights you can share with your readers.

See the Sights

Have you ever thought of writing a travel article? Most publications that use travel pieces are looking for the unique angle. They have probably already covered the traditional travel destinations. So, do a little exploring. Find something that not many people know about.

Keep your eyes open for something special. You may meet someone you want to interview later. Introduce yourself, tell them what you’re looking for, give them your card and get contact information from them. Build that initial relationship so that when you call later for the interview, they’ll remember you.

You may find an obscure piece of history or a quirky landmark. Take a lot of photos and research it later.

Personal Stories

Whether you’re traveling with your family or a group of friends, you will find a story. How did you bond with each other? What did God teach you about each person in your group? What special memories did you create on the trip? All of these can serve as a personal experience piece.

Readers love stories. You can share your story and help your readers connect with their memories of family vacations.

Be sure to give your readers takeaway value. Help them see that God is at work in all the stories of our lives.

Solving Problems

How did you plan the vacation? How did you choose your destination? How did you budget for the trip? How did you overcome conflict? How did you find a reliable repair shop when your car broke down? How did you handle medical emergencies?

These are just some of the issues you encounter on a vacation. You can offer insights so that next summer your readers can approach their own vacations a little more prepared.

Now What?

Remember that you won’t be writing articles for this summer. All summer issues of publications are planned and out. So, you have a few months to pull your ideas together and write. Plan ahead. Journal so you don’t forget the stories. Collect pamphlets from the places you visit. Be prepared now so that your follow-up research will be much easier.

You may also think of using your destination as a setting for fiction. Get a feel for the place so that you can accurately portray it in your story.

Photos will also help you write poetry later. Take photos that touch your emotions so you remember those feelings as you write.

Vacations are fun and relaxing. But, also, keep your eyes open and glean those writing ideas.

© Deborah Christensen

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