Saturday, June 03, 2017

June's Focus Point

An Eternal Perspective


Eternity is that which never dies, disappoints, disappears, or disillusions. The word eternity describes the longing of our hearts.
We yearn for that which is perfect—lovely, unaffected by sin—eternal. We have never seen perfection, experienced flawless love or tasted eternity, and yet we long for it. Why? How can we long for something we have not seen? Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us—God has “set eternity in the hearts of men.”
As Christian writers, we can address that human longing because the mystery of eternity has been revealed to us. Psalm 17:15 reads, “And I—in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.”
As we write from the perspective of truth—truth that will stand for all eternity—we reveal the eternal God and bring satisfaction to our readers' souls. This is a bold statement but if we don't believe it, why are we writing?
This does not mean our work will be exegetical or theological, though it may be. It does mean that our work will reveal something of the nature and person of Christ, God the Father, and the Spirit of power. Our writing will be based on truth and offer hope. Our words will carry life and the answer to longing hearts.

Take away thought: I will reveal God’s likeness in my writing in a desire to satisfy the soul-hunger of my readers.
See you September 9. This link is to an article you may find inspiringI hope your summer is filled with many words - read and written!
Write for Him,
Barbara

Monday, May 29, 2017

Last Meeting Before Summer

Saturday, June 3

10 am - noon


Cornerstone Christian Church, Wyckoff,
in the Barn (red building on the right when you enter) 

Be prepared to share your summer writing goals 
and 
be inspired by Susan to refresh your blogging.

Last month's focus point is featured below.
Hope to see you Saturday,
Barbara

May's Focus Point

Endless Inspiration

I spent time at the Jersey shore this week. Once again I was struck by the same thought that inspires me every time I return to the beach. I walk through the scrub pines, up the sandy path and crest the dunes to be astounded again—it’s still there! The waves didn’t stop in my absence; they didn’t cease to roll without an audience; they didn’t complete their cycle and rest. Any time of day, any time of year, they relentlessly crest and crash, demonstrating their Creator’s faithfulness, reminding me there is never a time when God’s grace, goodness, kindness, and love is not present. His faithfulness does not depend on my attentiveness or awareness. 

Lamentations 3 reminds us God’s “compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (v.22-23).

Since I had been thinking about this meeting, it wasn’t a stretch to see how this truth affects creative writing. Excusessuch as lack of inspiration, writer’s block, finding a market, feeling we have nothing to say worth reading or that hasn’t been written beforedissolve before God’s relentless faithfulness. There is no end to His wisdom, inspiration and opportunities. It’s there and available. We just have to show up. 

As I walked the beach, I resisted the urge to pick up shells. I reasoned, they’ll be here next time—there are always more shells, which is the point of this meditation. God’s supply never diminishes. The constant, fresh supply shells speaks to me of God’s limitless inspiration and vast purposes for us today, and tomorrow, and all our tomorrows.

Take away thought: Be still and wait. Expect inspiration and direction—Creator God has an endless supply.


Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Meeting this Saturday

Where do You Find Inspiration?

 That's the topic for this Saturday's meeting.

 May 6, 10 a.m. - noon

Cornerstone Christian Church, Wyckoff,
in the Barn (red building on the right when you enter) 

Whether you're an experienced writer or want to get started on a writing journey, you will find encouragement and camaraderie at our meetings. You are welcome to visit and see if NJCWG is a fit for you.Last months' Focus Point is featured below. 
Hope to see you Saturday,
Barbara

April's Focus Point
Direction or Distraction?
In March we talked  about maintaining the passion God gives us for His call on our lives. This month let's consider if interruptions are His direction or a distraction that veers us from the path our passion had set us on.
Susan and I attended a writing workshop and on our way home we talked about a writing opportunity that came her way. Aware of the two projects that already fight for her time and attention, the words fell out of my mouth without forethought, “Do think this is God’s direction or a distraction?”
As writers we are creative people. When a writing challenge comes our way, given time, we can generate imaginative ideas, create possible themes and run in directions we’ve not yet explored. This has been demonstrated in the writing exercises at our meetingsnonfiction writers write fiction, fiction writers identify their passion, poets write prose, we try genres and styles we had not considered as we draw from the creative wellspring within us, our God-given gift.
Writing is serious business because it’s our businessthe work we’ve been given to do. Ephesians 5:15-16 reads, “Be very careful, then, how you livenot as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”
Wise people have discernment; they are focused and determined. They are not distracted but make the most of every opportunity God presents to them, which brings us back to our original question—Is the potential opportunity, challenge, invitation before you God’s direction? Or a distraction?
Take away thought:  Be carefulwatch for direction, resist distraction.



Monday, March 27, 2017

Meeting this Saturday

April 1
10 am to noon

Cornerstone Christian Church, Wyckoff, in the Barn
 (red building on the right as you enter the property)

Our Focus Point this week is

direction or Distraction?
Graphic compliments of nationalgeographic.com

Saturday's discussion:
Memoir - what is it and what makes it worth reading?

Get the encouragement you need, whether you're an accomplished writer, beginner or somewhere in between.

Hope to see you Saturday,
Barbara

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

The Practical Side of Passion

The following is the devotional from our meeting on March 4.

Outside of those who write instruction manuals or how-to assembly instructions, I would think that every writer is motivated by passion. I can’t imagine writers giving themselves to the task if there is no passion in it. Passion is greater than enthusiasm. By definition, it is an “intense, driving, or over-mastering feeling or conviction; a strong liking for some activity, object, or concept.” (Mirriam-Webster Dictionary)
Writers may have a passion for justice or encouragement or health or for weaving a good story. My friend's blog was born from her passion for fashion. Maude’s poetry is birthed from a passion for God, family and Israel. Revealing passion in our work, makes it contagious and engages our readers.
Passion is what inspires us and compels us to sit in a chair for hours, putting words to paper. The problem with passion, however, is that it’s heavy with emotion and emotions vacillate. Which brings us to today’s focus, The Practical Side of Passion. How do we maintain passion? I make three suggestions:

  • Passion takes up space, so make room for itin your mind and in your moments. 
This means we will be intentional with what we put in our minds and allow to take up our moments. Isaiah asks, "Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare" (Isa. 55:2).
  • Passion fades, so fan it.
Talk to yourself; talk to God; talk to others. Learn; practice; blog. Paul wrote to Timothy, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (2 Tim. 1:6-7).
  • Passion subsists on truth, so feed it. 
What we feed grows, so we must feed our passion, not with vacillating feelings, but with sustaining truth. It’s not a matter of getting emotionally pumped, but being deeply balanced. How many times have you run off at the mouth with something that you deeply felt, only to find out you were mistaken. Let’s feed our passion with truth, “…for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34 NIV). Read this verse in the NLT: “…For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”

Take away thought:  Make room for your passion; fan your passion; feed your passion.

Article developed more fully on my website barbarahigbyhope.com 
Graphic compliments of pintrest.com/stickmancliff

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Meeting this Saturday

March 4

10 am to noon

Cornerstone Christian Church, Wyckoff, in the Barn
 (red building on the right as you enter the property)

Our Focus Point this week is:

The Practical Side of Passion 




Passion compels us as writers. This Saturday we'll talk about 
stoking our passion and writing from full hearts.

Get the encouragement you need, whether you're an accomplished writer, 
beginner or somewhere in between.

Looking forward to seeing you,
Barbara

February's Focus Point

The Diversity of God
I remember standing in front of the birds on display at the American Museum of Natural History and being overwhelmed by the vastness of God’s creativity. I thought, “If I was given the specifics of an animal that had wings for flying and a beak for eating, and told to create a bird, how many variations could I possibly contrive?” Six? Sixty? The museum exhibits 300 of the 400 species New York City attracts alone. There are almost 10,000 species of birds in the worldtropical birds and arctic birds, fish-eating birds and seed-eating birds, large birds and small birds, drab birds and outrageously colorful birds. The diversity of appearance, habits and habitat is astoundingnot even considering mammals, amphibians and fish. All of this from a wildly imaginative, abundantly creative, generous Creator God, who also made us.  
Having been made in God's image, we not only mirror His creative nature, but are gifted by Him to use our innovative skills for Him. Read what Moses said to the Israelites in Exodus 35:30-33, "See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel … and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship." 
Creativity in craftsmanship also includes crafting words. Chuck Colson wrote this about creativity in language:
The nature of Scripture itself affirms the importance of creativity in language. God did not reveal Himself through a list of essential doctrines or a schematic outline of theology. Instead, He chose to reveal Himself through the writings of a variety of authors over many hundreds of years in just about every type of literature then known to humanity. There are historical narratives, laws, poems and songs, proverbs, prophetic oracles, parables, letters, apocalyptic literature, even genealogies. In producing our own literature, we are following the example of God who gave us a rich literary heritage in His word. (The Image of God and Creativity, colsoncenter.org)
In our writing group, we have often looked at Ephesians 2:10, which calls us God's workmanship who have been created … to do the good works God has prepared for us to do.
My challenge for us today is to step out of the little boxes of time and space where we live. Let's ask the Creator, our Creator, to lead us where we’ve not yet gone and use our skills in new arenas.
Take away thought: Let’s expand our minds to be as broad, diverse and inclusive as our Creator’s.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Meeting this Saturday

February 4

10 am to noon

Cornerstone Christian Church, Wyckoff, in the Barn
 (red building on the right as you enter the property)


Our discussion will focus on tapping into our 

God-given creativity

Get the encouragement you need, whether you're an accomplished writer, 
beginner or somewhere in between.

Looking forward to seeing familiar faces and new,
Barbara

January's Focus Point:
The Power of a Word
How many of you choose a word for the year? My word for 2017 is clarity. There are reasons far too personal to share in this setting but one area where I want clarity is in my writingnot how I write, that goes without sayingbut in what I write. I feel conflicted by competing desires, good ideas and worthy goals and acknowledge that, as valuable as they may be, having too many possibilities can deter productivity.
Proverbs 4:25-27 says, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left....”
The phrase I want to focus on is this: “take only ways that are firm.” There are many ways, opportunities that are worthy, but I believe God will position us on a firm footing to accomplish what He has for us at this time. Options and creative ideas abound for each of us—we’re writers, creative by our God-given nature—and I hope we all keep lists with every brilliant idea we have, but we must to fix our gaze, make a level, firm place to stand, and do one thing at a time really well.
Take away thought: The blessing of creativity is a river that requires channeling. We must quiet our hearts and ask, “God, what would you have me do now?” and then do it wholeheartedly.