This Christmas season I thought a lot about the ways I could use my writing as a gift to others. Could I give a book I have written as a gift? That was a possibility. Could I get busy on my project of family history? I’ve been busy working on it, but it would never be finished in time for Christmas. Then the thought came. I wanted to “Sing to the Lord a new song.” (Psalm 98: 1)
I bought three journals, one for myself and one each for two cousins who had shared every summer with me at my grandparents’ beach house until all three of us were grown. I wrapped them in shiny paper with curly ribbon and handed them over when we met for lunch this week.
They looked at me , eyebrows raised, for they know me well, and they were sure I had something up my sleeve. “I’m not the only writer in this family,” I told them. “And I’m not the only one with memories.” Then I explained what I hoped we would do in the coming year.
Each of us would write a journal of Beach House Memories, reaching back to our young days for the things we had in common and the things we held secretly, close to our hearts. At the end of the year, we would get together and spend a glorious day remembering — and comparing. Then we would put all these precious recollections in a book for our children and grandchildren — a total of 30 people who would receive a gift of love — a gift that would capture the essence of sea breezes and white sand, our grandmother’s good cooking, learning to fish leaning over the side of the pier, riding the merry-go-round and reaching for the golden ring, hearing the old, old stories told by great aunts and uncles who came to visit for the day and ended up sitting on the porch long past twilight.
Tomorrow is the first day of a new year, and my cousins and I will be singing a new song, for this is something we have never done before. Because it is a song of love, we know that God blesses our efforts — which makes it all worthwhile.
Contributed by Marilyn Donahue
A few years back I wanted to use my writing talents to be a blessing to loved ones while at the same time giving them the Gospel message. Taking a story I had written some time before, I turned it into a Christmas gift. I made some illustrations with colored pencils, formatted my pages to come out in booklet form, and printed it all out with my color printer. Then I stapled the pages, and wrapped them up for Christmas.
I received only a few comments about my story, but that’s okay. The Gospel message was obvious throughout my little tale of a toymaker. My present was just a small reminder of the greatest gift we can receive– the free gift of salvation through the acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior. I was merely a vessel that God could use to make His wonderful message more apparent to those around me.
Contributed by Catherine L. Osornio
May your heart be filled with
joyful wonder on this Christmas day and
in the coming new year!
In Christ’s love,
I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you
Some of the best gifts I have received have been cards, notes and letters that come via snail mail. It’s a nice surprise when a handwritten envelope quietly announces its arrival among the bills and junk mail screaming for my attention.
I like to keep letters and notes. Some end up as bookmarks and inevitably get stashed away between books and in drawers. Eventually I come across one these small treasures which stirs up pleasant thoughts and memories of the sender.
I also have a handful of Christmas cards that I have kept over the years. Again, what’s special about these cards are the personal notes of news and inquiry. Some of these folks I see regularly, some I’ve lost touch with, and others have passed away. Reading their notes always makes me feel close to them and becomes a prayerful moment.
There are so many ways to give the written word as a gift. E-mail and other ways to send messages instantly are important and useful tools, but nothing beats that special feeling of warmth and excitement I get when I receive a hand-written note. It is a small gift of time and thoughtfulness that goes a long way.
Is there someone on your mind who would enjoy your hello, today?
contributed by Veronica Walsh
When you join a critique group you must realize you are joining a group with varied perspectives. Since that is true, each one of the group that critiques your work will see it in a different light. While you may not always agree with what a member suggests, be gracious and accept their critique. They are looking at your work from their frame of reference.
Although you are gracious in accepting the critiques of those in the group, you must always be true to yourself. Remember, your work is being written from YOUR perspective. If a member suggests something that doesn’t “feel right” to you, you must evaluate the suggestion and go with your gut instinct about making a change.
That said, a good critique member is willing to consider the possibility that what a critique member has suggested will improve their manuscript. Don’t fall in love with your own words so much that you are not willing to consider that a member might have a better way of saying something.
You must trust your critique group to have your best interest at heart. If you don’t, perhaps you are in the wrong group!
Thankful for the perspectives of all my critique members, Gloria
What a blessed gift we have, to write to help others. It can be through a personal testimony how God delivered us from heavy burdens, or just a cheery paragraph that can bring sunshine to a gloomy day.
Maybe a Christian sister or brother thinks they have no more ministries and we can encourage them that God always has something more for us to do.
A gift could come through a short devotion in a church newsletter, or a book of Bible studies. In the same way we look for opportunities to give an uplifting word or smile to people, even strangers crossing our path, we can look for opportunities to write those uplifting words to give a smile to a hurting heart, especially.
Just like with Jesus, writing can be a gift that keeps on giving.
Where is He who has been born King of the Jews! For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him…And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary, His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
-Matthew 2:2, 11, NKJV
As we open our hearts to write the words God has called us to write, let us do so as an act of worship to the King of kings!
If we write for the general book market, may we give Jesus the gift of words that are wholesome, encouraging, and godly instead of words that promote evil or darkness or ungodliness.
If we write for the Christian market, may we give Jesus the gift of words that speak truth and light to a hurting and troubled world instead of words that don’t offer hope or a strong biblical foundation.
May we always strive to honor Jesus through the words we write no matter which market we write for. May this truly be our gift to the Savior as the writers He called us to be. If we do, it will also be a precious gift to the world.
-by Nancy I. Sanders