"Sometimes while I'm talking to God, He'll show me something about myself in such a way that I have to laugh at my own humanity and how funny I must look to Him." - Donna

Donna...just found your blog...I absolutely love it! And I love your singing! I'm at work right now and it was just exactly what I needed to hear to help me make it through tonight! Thanks for your ministry here!
- Robert

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's Too Difficult (I Whine...)

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. – 1 John 4:9-10

Yesterday was one of those days. It seemed as if everything I touched either quit working or fell apart. All day long, I struggled, trying to get things done. Last night my husband started to put the lights on the tree. Of course, half of the lights that worked when we put them in the box last year did not work when they came out of the box. What happened in there?

I muttered more than once, “Why is everything so difficult? Why can’t anything be a piece of cake?”

Sunday night we watched “The Nativity Story.” Afterwards a friend commented that it seemed as if the movie portrayed one struggle after another.

I recalled her comment yesterday, and realized that the difficulties I faced were nothing in comparison to the obstacles overcome in order for Jesus to come as our Savior. There was nothing easy about Jesus’ birth. Mary had to endure people looking down at her because she was having a baby, even though she had never been with a man. Joseph was ridiculed because Mary was pregnant. Mary’s family felt the brunt of judgment by friends and family. To worship the Savior, the shepherds left their flocks, their only means of income. The Magi packed up and traveled for many months to see the King.

When I have a bad day, it’s only a bad day. If I whine because a book hasn’t been published or an article wasn’t accepted, I should remember that life isn’t always easy, and I will enjoy the best things in life more if I have had to work for them. If I type my fingers to the bone, burn the midnight oil, and suffer countless rejections, these small hardships never compare to the sacrifice God made so that I can spend eternity with Him.

When I complain I hope to remind myself of the great sacrifice Jesus made for me, and for you. Nothing I do, say, or write will ever be enough to express my gratitude for His love, my salvation, and I must admit, compared to the lives of some people, I do have a life that’s a piece of cake.

And I’m so thankful God thought we were worth the struggle.

Prayer: God, thank You for Your sacrificial love. I pray that I make every day of my life a sacrifice of praise and service to You. In Jesus' wonderful, mighty, precious, sweet name I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Snowman Hidden Picture Puzzle for Christmas!

A special treat! A hidden picture puzzle by Liz Ball. To order books with her hidden picture puzzles and Topsy Turvy Land, click HERE. Enjoy!

*Click on the picture, then print! It will print out full size ready to be colored. If that doesn't work with your printer, right click on the picture, and then 'save picture as...' and then you can print it out using your photo program.

Look for hidden pictures in my books. Hearts in the Topsy Tales, bones in Poodle and Doodle, and all kinds of hidden animals and items in Where is Salami? There are chocolate chip cookies and teacups in every picture in Ava's Secret Tea Party. Have fun!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Is Fear Your Master?

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!' – Matthew 25:21 NIV

As a little girl, I daydreamed a lot and tended to dawdle. In first grade, my teacher saw some artistic talent in me, and gave me an assignment to paint a poster-sized picture. Every day I spent part of my recess time staying inside and working on it.

I’m also a bit of a perfectionist, so the progress became painstakingly slow. One day my teacher came in to see how much I’d accomplished and exclaimed, “This is how much you’ve got done?”

I can still remember how hot my face felt. I can see the disappointment in her eyes. I thought I’d done well, but realized at that moment how slowly I had worked. She wanted to cultivate my talent for drawing, and agreed to let me continue, but begged me to “pick up the pace.”

Fear played a part in my perfectionism. I wanted to do it right so badly, I agonized over every stroke of the paintbrush. That wise teacher helped me to see the bigger picture – both realistically and figuratively.

In Matthew 25, we read a parable Jesus told of a man going on a journey. He entrusted his property to his servants. The man who received five talents gained five. The one with two doubled them to four talents. But the man with one talent dug a hole and hid the master’s money.

When the master returned, he praised the first two servants. But the third man received harsh punishment because he didn’t do as his master wished.

And why didn’t he? Fear. “'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' – Matthew 25:24-25 NIV.

Perhaps fear is keeping you from ministering in some way. Maybe you’re like me, always reaching for perfectionism. There is only One Who is perfect, and God uses plain, ordinary, flawed people like you and me. As our Master, God loves us and uses us by the power of the Holy Spirit to do His work on earth. My desire is to hear Him say at the end of my life’s journey, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

The following is a prayer I penned concerning writing, but whatever your ministry is, I pray it will be blessed abundantly. Step out in faith today. What do you want to do as a ministry for the Lord? What's stopping you?

Writer’s Prayer

As I sit down with pen and paper today
I pray, O Lord, for the words to say.
Bless my thoughts. May they be directed by You.
Whatever I write, may it be uplifting and true
To Your Word, to Your Character, to Your Spirit, I pray.

May the words I write challenge the reader to praise
Your Name above all Names - my hands I raise.
Whether it’s a poem, prose, or a worship song
Or a love story like the Song of Solomon,
Help me tell of Your love in glorious ways.

May the story of your grace and mercy cause reflection.
I pray as I write your Spirit gives direction.
No matter the story
I’ll give You the glory
For You alone are the Author of perfection.

© Donna Shepherd 2003

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Monday, September 24, 2007

When God Steps In: Stories of Everyday Grace

I'm delighted to say I have a story, "Refreshed by Peace," in a new book. When God Steps In: Stories of Everyday Grace (Standard Publishing) offers a close-up look at what can happen when we slow the pace and allow God to speak peace to our hearts. Borrowed from the pages of real lives, these fifty true stories will encourage you to recognize sacred interruptions and to grow not in spite of, but because of them.

Bonnie has a blog with a sample chapter and a photo buffet. Click HERE.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I Can’t Be Inspired in Dirty Clothes

*For something different, I'm including a few posts on writing. I have a lot of readers who write, too!

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” – Matthew 5:14-15 niv

I attended the Chautauqua 2007 Writers’ Workshops in July. I had always heard if you ever went to anything the Highlights Foundation sponsored, you would never be the same. And it’s true.

At the opening banquet, I spotted Kim Griswell. Kim edits poetry for Highlights Magazine, and is one of my dream editors. We talked about life and kids and got to know each other. Before the week was over, she critiqued some of my poetry and commented that, while I have a good sense of humor and it comes through in my writing, I’m not letting go and having fun with it. She advised me to re-write several poems, and submit.

During the last morning session, Kim shared a piece she wrote highlighting the events of the prior week. Writers, and according to the good folks at Highlights, that’s what we ‘officially’ became that week, all over the auditorium brought out tissues to wipe away tears.

As she summarized her comments on that final day, she said, “If you go home, and on Monday, do laundry, you’ve missed the point.”

I understood what she meant. If we cannot be inspired by an entire week of focusing on nothing but writing, and hearing some of the best in children’s literature share their journey, we have chosen the wrong endeavor.

But then again, as I talked to those around me, I discovered that very few enjoyed the luxury of full-time writing. One very talented writer I met, Ruth, is a psychologist, another - Artie, a professor at Ohio State. I met teachers, a real estate developer, a newspaper photographer, and a ranch owner.

So while it would have been nice to sit at the computer all day on Monday, you can guess what I found myself doing – laundry. As I worked around the house, catching up on chores (hadn’t anyone done dishes while I was gone??), something interesting occurred. After such a hectic, jam-packed week, it felt good to let my mind rest. But not for long. As any writer knows, it worked its way back to writing. I carried my recorder around, making notes and figuring out ways to make my children’s poetry sparkle.

Most of you reading this write, too. Most of you have another job, or two or three. Yet, we still manage to get words down on paper or into files on our computers. While we wipe noses or sort whites from colors, our minds work the same as those blessed few privileged to be full-time writers. If you’re like me, you take a recorder with you in the car, blurting out phrases and ideas at red lights. Or you scribble notes and hope you can read your own writing when you get home.

I thank God for my time at Chautauqua. The entire week seems rather like a dream now. For seven full days, I was a full-time writer, and it was heavenly. Kim’s closing prose was so beautiful that I now realize how much more I need to improve. Kim, you inspired me. Perhaps one day, I’ll be blessed to give up my other jobs to write full-time. But for now, I’m writing and writing – but in my nice, clean clothes.

Next Week – Tips on Writing for Children from my Chautauqua notes.

Visit Donna on the web at: http://www.donnajshepherd.com
If you want to comment on this post over on the Master's Artists Blog, click HERE.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Highlights 2007 Fall Founders Workshops

Are you interested in writing for children? Here's a link to a .pdf with information about the Highlights 2007 Fall Founders Workshops. Jane Yolen will be doing picture books in December. Debbie Dadey is scheduled for a new offering entitled Reluctant Readers. Special guests at the popular Crash Course in Publishing run by Clay Winters will include Lindsay Barrett George and Susan Campbell Bartoletti.

I attended the 2007 Writers Workshop at Chautauqua and had a wonderful experience. Click HERE for more information on the Fall Founders Workshops.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?

I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer. - Psalm 17:6 NIV

Have you told anyone recently how you can be reached? If you’re like most Americans, you have a landline, fax line, and cell phone. Then there’s email, IM’s, and texting. When a friend and I went to a movie and McDonald’s, she couldn't get through a hot fudge sundae without texting several people.

Yet even with all this technology, occasionally we can’t be reached. The phone lines are down. Cable is out. We forget to recharge the cell phone battery.

Aren’t you relieved we don’t rely on any of these things to talk to God? He’s as close as your next breath. With the phones jangling and emails piling up, take a moment to whisper, "Jesus.” You’ll be amazed at the calming effect of His name. Call on Him today.

And if you need to further recharge your spirit, get into His ‘text’ – the Bible!

Prayer: Oh, God, I praise You today. May I be keenly aware of Your presence in my life. Thank you for your faithfulness. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Prayer for the President

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. - 1 Timothy 2:1-4 (NKJV)

Do you feel led to pray for our leaders? Here's a blog, NOT a political blog, but one dedicated to prayer for the leaders of the United States. I've heard from people all over the world who pray for the President of the United States, and as an American, I'm grateful for their prayers. If you'd like to add your prayer to the ones already posted, click on the link, and join us in prayer.

Prayer for the President

Thursday, June 21, 2007

BUSY Parents Devotional - Dabbling Mum - What's In a Name?

A new column's up on The Dabbling Mum.

"I skipped into my first classroom and the teacher directed me to sit down at a big, round wooden table with a half dozen other children. My eyes scanned the table, and I spoke up. “Why don’t we all say our names?”..."

Click here to read What's In a Name?

Donna J. Shepherd © 2007
All rights reserved.

No portion of this Website may be reproduced by Crossmap or any other website without dated written permission from Donna. - Thanks!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

For the Graduates: Who You Know

“For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”- Proverbs 2:6 NIV

“It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that expression. Each year in Spring, we celebrate many graduations from kindergarten to college. Many of these graduates head to the job market only to be disillusioned by the difficulty finding employment. Sooner or later, almost everyone I know has muttered the above expression followed by a long sigh.

I have to say my first job came as a result of knowing a district manager of a company. But I’m friends with many people who’ve managed to get great jobs without having any connections at all. I got my second job by being ambitious and a go-getter – or at least that’s what my boss told me.

You may get a job by knowing someone, but you can’t keep a job unless you have the knowledge to do the work.

We read in the Bible the Lord blessed Solomon with great wisdom and understanding. "God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore.” (1 Kings 4:29 NIV) Can you imagine being that smart?

But there is one position where it only matters Who you know – your place in the kingdom of God. Solomon, with all his wisdom, recognized his need for God. In Proverbs 9:10 he wrote, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

And most importantly, it matters Who knows you! In I Corinthians 8:3, Paul wrote, “But the man who loves God is known by God.”

Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 NIV) Are you following Jesus? Do you know Him, and does He know YOU?

I’ve gone back to college. When I’m studying for exams after such a long hiatus from school, I sure wish I had a bit of Solomon’s wisdom and understanding!

Lord, I pray I listen to Your voice. My desire is to know You more, and to follow You all the days of my life. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

*I first posted this devotional on 5-18-2005. This devotional also appears on Crossmap and Narrow Is the Path, where you can stop by to read and rate.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Featured Writers for Mother's Day Special Edition

One of my devotionals, Slow Down!, will be featured in a Mother's Day Devotional Booklet called Whispers in My Ear - Legacy of a Godly Woman. Here's the lineup:


Writer's Guidelines for upcoming booklets are posted on the site. Click here.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Guardian Angel Publishing Releases New Book: Ouch! Sunburn

by Donna J. Shepherd
A Wings of Faith Children's Book
Illustrations: Kevin Scott Collier
ISBN: 1-933090-60-X
ISBN 13: 9781933090603
From the Publisher: Donna J. Shepherd’s snappy rhymes along with the 15 colorful and fun illustrations by Kevin Scott Collier help children see the need to protect their skin in the sun. Sun Safety Tips in the back of the book reinforce the book’s theme. 27 pages. 94 word easy reader.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Christa Taylor - Defining Modest Fashion

I don't do this often, but am making an exception. What a nice surprise to see all the lovely fashions offered by this company. Check them out! - Donna

Christa Taylor Grand Opening Presents Modesty in a Whole New Light
Spring Collection Provides Young Women with “Modish” Options

Vancouver, WA—Christa Taylor, a new clothing company, has made its message clear. As the visionary designer herself explains: “We are fashions for the Empowered Traditionalist. An Empowered Traditionalist, or ‘ET’, loves her clothes and believes modesty can be stylish and attractive.” Christa Taylor’s Spring Collection proves just that.

The company’s dream grew out of a infuriating, yet all too common experience. As a young lady, Taylor encountered weeks of frustrating shopping trips- trying to find something modest and attractive. Finding a modest bathing suit became a long and arduous affair, searching websites and retail stores to no avail. So she went to the drawing board and designed a new swimsuit that satisfied her desire for modesty and style (she calls it "modish:" a blend of modest + "chic").

Updated frequently, her website http://www.christa-taylor.com demonstrates careful thought, and genuine care for her customers. “Expect new styles, ideas, and superior quality” Taylor affirms, “I am all about creating clothes that flatter real girls, satisfying their needs and building a trust relationship.”

The Christa Taylor team believes no business should exist just to make money. In the midst of an individualistic culture focused primarily on success, power and prestige, they are committed to a greater vision; a vision that presses beyond the tendencies towards self-absorption. With this in mind, and always aware of their own need, they have resolved to contribute at least 30% of their profits to the world’s poor and toward furthering social justice around the globe. Their first project is already under way.

For more information, please visit http://www.christa-taylor.com

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Topsy Turvy Time!

Something new! Devos for Kids! Click HERE for
Topsy Turvy Time!
Starting May 1st, Topsy Turvy Time will be on CWAHM.com, too!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Magnetic Writing

*For something different, I'm including a few posts on writing. I have a lot of readers who write, too!

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” – Matthew 5:14-15 niv

Are you writing in such a way that people are drawn to Christ?

C- Christ. We love Him. He sacrificed His life for us. We’ve crowned Him Lord, and our writing will reflect our allegiance and service to the King.

L- Loving Him with all our heart, mind, souls, and strength means we love God more than we love writing. Love Him so much that should God call you to another type of ministry, and you never write another word, you would be willing to give it up to serve Him in the manner that pleases Him.

O- Obey God as He directs. At this time, God has directed me into the area of nonfiction. I like the idea of writing a novel, but if I tried to right now, I believe I’d be out of His will. Are you following the leading of the Holy Spirit?

S- Sacrifice your writing to God each day before you write the first word. Lay your desires, talent, and plans on the altar. Ask God to burn away any selfish ambition.

E- Exalt the Lord in ALL things – the words you write, the things you say, the acts you do. God forbid that we write holy words and lead unholy lives.

As Christian writers, let us be committed, bold, articulate, and above all else, concerned for the salvation of others. Let us draw close to Christ so that we will draw others to Him.

Matthew 5:16 – “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds [writing, singing, speaking? - Donna] and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.”

Prayer: I lay my writing at Your feet, Jesus. Use me as You will. Amen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Blog Award

A nice surprise today! I've placed in the top three in the "Spiritual and Religious" category for the The Mother’s Day Central Top 100 Mom Blogs Awards. Click HERE to see all the blogs. Many of my favorites were included. (Thanks, Heather, for posting the news on your blog, and congratulations for your award, too!)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference Report

Me, Andy Meisenheimer, Mary DeMuth, Jeanne Damoff

This time last week, I zipped through the air, high above the clouds winging my way home from Mount Hermon – my first Christian writing conference. I’ve attended two SCBWI conferences and the Erma Bombeck Conference, but the Mount Hermon conference has them all beat for atmosphere. Nestled among the tall redwoods with lush greenery, the setting envelops you, welcoming you, making you feel at home. Squeals of delight rang out the first day as those who had attended in the past met up with old friends.

I finally met many of my online friends face to face and what a joy it was! My roommate turned out to be Karen, a woman I’d corresponded with already, and we had an immediate rapport. Our cabin reminded me of the time I went to cheerleading camp – small but clean. No TV. No radio. And gasp! No wireless connection for my laptop. What would I do?

I’m sure those in charge set it up that way so we writers would get out of the cabin. Otherwise, I have a feeling we’d hunker down in the room reading or updating our blogs.

Because of my flight schedule, I went a day early. That night we feasted on a bountiful buffet. All week the conference center brought out trays laden with fantastic food. Karen and I attended a workshop on ‘pitching.’ Since I’d had only about two hours sleep the night before, I could barely keep my eyes open. I would later regret it that I couldn’t pay more attention. As it turns out, editors and agents like to hear you pitch your project. At that moment, all I could think of was how soon I could pitch my body into bed.

The next morning, refreshed and ready, I threw myself into the craziness of Mount Hermon. I met Mary DeMuth and Jeanne Damoff. We hugged like old friends. Mary is lovely, and Jeanne is a graceful wisp of a woman. Both made sure I ate at their tables – which was nice since they were both much in demand.

About this time, I started to notice the writers with a panicky look in their eyes, jaws set with determination, with plans to meet the right editors and agents. One woman actually stepped right in front of me to talk to an agent. I get downright nauseous at the thought of having to be so competitive.

That’s why it surprised even me when I made an appointment with an editor. Unless you’ve sent work ahead to be critiqued or considered, once you get there, Mount Hermon has no formal schedule for writers to meet the editors and agents. To make an appointment, all you have to do is ask. I heard two or three other people making appointments, and on a whim, made one myself. Almost immediately, I regretted my act of spontaneity. I didn’t have a complete proposal, and I’ve already admitted, slept through the workshop on pitching.

After tossing and turning all night and praying to God to let me know if canceling would be in His will, I concluded that if said editor crossed my path before my appointment, I would cancel. That morning, I slipped into the gift shop to buy a postcard for my husband (which made it to my house the same day I got home.) and in stepped the editor. What are the chances? I had my sign. Right? Wrong. I walked up and said, “I had an appointment…I mean, I have an appointment, and well…” Before I could say another word, the editor said, “No. You need to be there.” Something told me he’d had run-ins with many nervous authors before me.

For my major morning track, I chose to attend one taught by Cindy Kenney. As a children’s book author, it thrilled me to meet Cindy, a Veggie Tales author. Like a good groupie, I had my picture taken with her. And I took a fun, frantic workshop taught by Christine Tangvald, another children’s book author. I met with Jim Stafford, the editor for The Upper Room. He related how people in one village in Africa shared one copy, passing it around until everyone could read it. After taking his workshop, I feel better informed as to what he looks for in a devotional. What a blessing to minister to people all over the world!

So, what insights did I come away with? I found all of the agents and editors with whom I interacted to be more than willing to chat, exchange information, and make the writers feel at ease. We ate lunch and dinner with at least one member of the faculty at each table. Most of them made sure to talk with each person at the table, not letting the more aggressive writers dominate the conversation. Quite a feat.

All the previous interaction with friends on the internet affords an instant connection when we meet face to face, but as Christians, we have an even deeper ‘koinonia.’ That ‘same Spirit’ the Apostle Paul talks about (2 Corinthians 4:12-14) lives in us. I like to think it’s a glimpse of the fun we’ll have in heaven, when we meet all the people we’ve read about in the Bible. Perhaps some of the people to whom we’ve ministered with our writing will catch up with us on the streets of gold, too. While book sales, marketing plans, and proposals are all important to us now, in the end, the impact we’ve had in sharing Jesus Christ will be all that’s left.

I thank Cecil Murphey for giving me the impetus to fly cross-country to Mount Hermon. Randy Ingermanson wisely advises, “Think contacts, not contracts, when you go to a conference.” My plan included learning the ropes, networking, and getting to know what the agents and editors desire from authors. I ended the conference with a re-energized desire to write, and yes, even though I babbled through my ‘pitch,’ I came away with some encouragement. According to Chip MacGregor, I need to be a “writer with a good idea determined to put in the time required and express that idea in a coherent and entertaining manner.” More than ever I realize, I have much to learn and a lot of hard work ahead. I love it!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

New Website!

I'm finally taking the plunge and setting up a website. I haven't had a lot of time to work on it yet, so be forewarned - it's most definitely a work in progress.

For those of you who do take time to visit, I'm open to suggestions on what you like to see when you go to an author/speaker's site. I like the blog because of its interactive nature, but having the website is nice because I can set up separate pages for the children's writing and the grownup writing, yet have it all in one easy-to-access spot.

Eventually I hope to have a links page set up so I can recommend my favorite blogs and websites.

Check it out if you have a minute: http://www.donnajshepherd.com

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Topsy Turvy Tour

Here's a peek at an illustration in Topsy Turvy Tour, a mini-topsy turvy tale written by me, Donna, and illustrated by who else but Kevin Scott Collier! We are pleased to announce the story is featured in a new Children's E-Zine called Stories for Children. You can download it either as a .pdf file OR in a program that opens it up like a magazine right on your computer!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

New Column - NABBW

"This week a celebrity died. She was only 39 years old. I say ‘only' because, as a Boomer Baby, a thirty-something woman seems very young. This celebrity did a whole lotta livin' during her short time on earth, and sad to say, her legacy is already one marked by confusion and vanity.

Vanity could refer to her obsession with her looks, but King David referred to vanity in a different light..."

Click HERE to read this month's devotional on NABBW called "Your Legacy."

Donna J. Shepherd 2007 All rights reserved. No portion of this Website may be reproduced without permission. For more information, contact Donna.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Pioneer Parenting

Today my friend over at the Pioneer Parenting Blog, author Mary DeMuth, has featured one of my stories. Click on over to read "My Wake Up Call."

Mary has a great list of links to parenting resources in the right hand column, and a place to sign up for her newsletter.

Donna J. Shepherd © 2007 All rights reserved. No portion of this Website may be reproduced by Crossmap or any other website without dated written permission from Donna. - Thanks!

Amazing Grace

Have you heard of the movie? Here's a link to CBN.com where you can watch a preview, listen to music inspired by the movie, read a review, enter contests, and a link to an interactive message board.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bringing Words to Life

*For something different, I'm including a few posts on writing. I have a lot of readers who write, too!

Several of my friends are novelists. Anyone who can write a novel has my respect. I’m in awe of writers who write thousands of words in a day. When I write devotionals, I may write a thousand words. Then I start cutting, honing in on the central message, slashing the excess. For one project, I had to keep each devotional to five hundred words or less.

When I write for children, I have even fewer words with which to play around. Most of the children’s magazines want poems of up to twelve lines. In today’s market, picture books run less than a thousand words. The trick is to write a book where part of the story itself is dependent upon the illustrations in a picture book. As it’s written, the author actually ‘sees’ the pictures as if they already existed. Of course, sometimes, the illustrator comes up with new possibilities the author never dreamed.

Like most people, I’m fascinated by the story of God’s creation. By His Word, something came of nothing.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” – Hebrews 11:3

Mind-boggling, isn’t it?

In my children’s book, a few lines say,

“He (God) made the giraffe with his very long neck,

And the toucan with gigantic beak.

God must have had fun

Creating each one,

And all in just under a week!”

I like to think of God’s pleasure as He created. Can you imagine Him smiling when he put that humongous beak on the toucan? And then, with a flourish, added all the beautiful colors?

As writers, we are blessed to be able to create. And as a children’s writer, sometimes I’m really blessed, and the words I write are illustrated with pictures. It’s so much fun to see my words come to life. I thank God every day for the joy of writing, and for allowing me the pleasure of seeing my words in print, and sometimes illustrated.

Recently, Kevin Scott Collier and I worked on a short story for a new children’s e-zine. Here's a sneak peek at the cover of Topsy Turvy Tour, a mini-topsy turvy tale.

When Kevin sent the final draft of our creation, I felt giddy. Like a child again. The way I felt as a first grader when I brought home a masterpiece created with finger paint, and mom displayed it on the refrigerator.

Have you lost the joy of writing? I have a friend who’s a fantastic writer, but does she write? No. She’s lost the joy.

Now I’m not discounting the hard work. Anyone worth his salt will put a lot of time and energy into every creation. Not long ago, I finally finished a picture book I’d been working on, and it took more time than I dreamed possible when I began. It’s only 320 words long.

As a Christian, I feel a call to write. Even when it’s what some would think is a silly children’s story, I still consider it worship to God when I use the talent He’s given me to create. What keeps you writing? Does a finished product give you the impetus to start something new? Does an acceptance make you roll up your sleeves and get back to work? Are you called to write? We’re created in God’s image. Let’s create.

Amos 4:13 niv,
He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth— the LORD God Almighty is his name.”

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the talent you've given. Help me to glorify You in all I do, in life and with my artistic endeavors. I stand in awe of Your creation. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

* Read this post on The Master's Artists blog. I have shared another picture from Topsy Turvy Tour. Click HERE to check it out.

Donna J. Shepherd © 2007 All rights reserved. No portion of this Website may be reproduced by
Crossmap or any other website without dated written permission from Donna. - Thanks!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Devotionals for BUSY Parents: Promise Keeper

A new column's up on The Dabbling Mum.

"I’m amazed at how little weight we give to truth these days. Have you encountered people who consistently break promises? It’s gotten so we expect the politicians and advertisers to lie, but it’s especially exasperating to have someone tell you he will do something, and then not do it. When asked about it, he shrugs and says something like, “I changed my mind” or “Oops. Forgot about that.” His word means nothing.

Are you a promise keeper? Are you a person who keeps your word? Are you teaching your children to be truthful?"

Click here to read Promise Keepers.

Donna J. Shepherd © 2007
All rights reserved.

No portion of this Website may be reproduced by Crossmap or any other website without dated written permission from Donna. - Thanks!
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