Tuesday, July 31, 2012

All's Fair In Love And...Soccer?

A billion people worldwide are watching the 2012 London Summer Olympics. As my family watched the women’s soccer match between the U.S. and Colombia on Saturday, we saw the obvious foul of U.S. player Abby Wambach by a Colombia player—an elbow to the eye. Abby’s eye began to swell and change colors as she lay on her back on the field, yet the referee didn’t call a foul. 
All’s fair in love, war—and soccer? Apparently not. My son was incensed along with millions others watching, I’m sure. I reminded him of what I’ve always tried to teach my children. Life isn’t fair. The only place you can hope for fair play is in a board game, and even then, it depends on who you’re playing.J 
The foul didn’t change the outcome of the game, and in a rarity in sports, the play was reviewed by officials later. The Colombia player was suspended for two games. So, in the end, justice was served. 
God offered us fair play once. And we failed. Fortunately, for us, He didn’t stop there. 

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
Once He proved to us that we couldn’t operate on the fair play system, He offered us the choice between justice and redemption. 
I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful God doesn’t play fair. Otherwise, there’d be no hope for me. I praise Him for redemption!
As we pray this week, consider that the obvious unfair circumstances in life—cancer, strokes, Parkinson’s, or other debilitating illnesses—are often matched by unseen suffering. We can’t see into a person’s soul or what goes on inside their home. Some people suffer in distressing situations with no end—at least in our temporary earthly lives. 
If you’re one of those people, I’m praying for you. Cling to this promise about the Lord we worship:
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
If I settle on the far side of the sea,
Even there your hand will guide me,
Your right hand will hold me fast.
(Psalm 139:9-10)
Would you join me in prayer for those around the world trapped in desperate situations of war, hunger, slavery, and fear?
If you have a prayer need, please list it in the comment section below so others can pray for you. Email me confidential requests. If you’ve never taken a moment to scroll through the prayer needs, would you please do so today? 
Please pray for healing, comfort, and strength for:
·        Lori, my cousin’s wife, diagnosed with terminal metastatic cancer.
·        Courtney, young mother with cancerous brain tumor, receiving treatment through Duke. Her last MRI in July showed remarkable progress in treatment.
·        Emily, a 12-year-old with bone cancer, showing some progress in treatment.
·        TC’s father-in-law with cancer.
·        Karen with leukemia in hospice care.
·        Jennifer’s uncle and grandmother who are seriously ill.
·       Terminally ill lady in final stages of breast cancer. There are many needs here, including those of extended family and husband.
·       U.S. soldier Jesse McCart, age 26, was severely wounded in Afghanistan yesterday. He lost both legs and part of an arm. He has been stabilized in a base hospital in Afghanistan with plans to move him to Germany. He has a wife Cassie, twin babies, and a toddler. The family would greatly appreciate your prayers.
·       Those dealing with difficult family situations, mental illness, depression, health problems, and employment issues (several requests). 
·       Shanda is preparing for a mission trip to Africa in October. She needs prayer for clarity and wisdom as she studies, as well as relief as she adjusts to a new migraine medication.
·       Betty’s father-in-law passed away from complications from Alzheimer’s. Please keep his family in your prayers during this difficult time.
I want to welcome Suzanne Stack who is linking up with her blog Spoonfuls of Grace today to join us in prayer. If you get a chance, visit her blog. You’ll be blessed. 
This week’s song is “Live Like That” by Sidewalk Prophets.

May everything we say and do point to Jesus’ love!
God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How Do I Get Published?

Will I Ever Get Published?
So you’ve worked hard, polished your writing, submitted to magazines, and yet—you’re still unpublished. You might throw your hands up and cry, “What’s it going to take to be published?”

All published writers have experienced rejection. And rejection. And more rejection. It’s a necessary step to get published. The thrill is so much greater when you receive your first acceptance letter or phone call. 
While getting published seems a mystery to aspiring writers, it’s not. No magic formula exists—just good old fashioned hard work and perseverance. 
I’ve blogged about writer education through conferences, books, and online sources. Just as important is time spent in research, both for topics to write about and magazines to submit. One published author I know uses a 1:1 ratio, meaning for every hour she writes, she spends an hour in research. She reads writer’s guidelines to find magazines that fit her writing style or to discover an idea for a new topic. I’m not sure how many other writers would endorse this, but starting out, the ratio looks reasonable, at least until you build a good list of magazines and have queries or manuscripts submitted. 
Regardless of whether your aspiration is to be a novelist and not write for magazines, doing so is important to:
·      Build your credentials.
·      Hone your writing skills.
·      Gain experience working with editors. Along with building credentials, this shows potential book publishers and agents that you have successfully worked with editors in the past.
·      Build your confidence level. Being published on any level fuels future success. Also, if you always have a query or manuscript submitted, it’s harder to give up when a rejection letter comes in. You’ll have hope the pending submission will be accepted.
One concern among unpublished writers is cost. I can remember trying to justify spending $20 for a Writer’s Market guide or for a Writer’s Digest magazine subscription. Now, if you’re willing to log extra time in research, many of the same educational tools or magazine submission guidelines can be found online. 
Below is a link with a couple hundred (maybe more) magazine and book publisher submission guidelines. Don’t be concerned if they’re not a paying market. Remember the objectives above. I can’t vouch for all the media listed, but I have been published with a few, and many are willing to work with new authors.
One example is Christian Devotions. Even if you don’t think you could write a devotion, study their guidelines and see if you can think of an idea to write about. If you want examples, click on my page above “Sampling of Published Articles” for past devotions I’ve written. 
It’s important to read the submission guidelines carefully to discern if what you’ve written will fit the magazine you’re submitting to. Some magazines want query letters first. Often, you’ll get ideas to query about based on a magazine’s mission statement. Be patient as response times vary.
I stumbled upon this video of Stephen King giving writing advice to new authors. I thought you might enjoy it.
Now, I want to hear from you. What was your first published piece?
© Laura Hodges Poole

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

When The Unexpected Happens

Dealing with the unexpected
“Sometimes, when tragedy strikes, people give up hope that they can expect anything more from life, when the real quest is finding out what life expects from them.” ― Richard Paul Evans, author
When I started writing this post, it was about blessings gained from unexpected experiences. I had a cute little story to use for an illustration. Given the events last week in Colorado, I felt remiss in discussing blessings amidst tragedy. I wrestled with what to write, but nothing worked. However, I was resistant to the idea of writing solely about the tragedy because everyone else already had. What more could I add? 
As I prayed about my conundrum, I realized I wasn’t just wrestling with my own sense of what to write. Rather, I wasn’t fully opening my mind and heart to God’s desire for the post. 
Wrestling with God is senseless. When I realized what I’d been doing, I yielded. And if I haven’t said it a million times before, that’s one reason for prayer—for Him to speak to you. 
After a major tragedy has occurred, the first question that comes to mind is: Why? 
It would take several hundred words to sum up my beliefs and thoughts on this—or it could be answered simply: We live in a fallen world, and as such, our perfect life will be in heaven, not here. I’ve blogged about this several times, as well.
God isn’t caught unaware when tragedy strikes. Nor is tragedy unique within our borders. The sixty seconds it’s taken you to read this, tragedy has unfolded somewhere on this earth. Women and children have been caught in the crossfire of war. Civil war rages in Syria as the world tsk-tsks and mulls solutions, while hundreds are killed daily. A loved one has received a cancer diagnosis, died, or has been in an accident. 
Christians are imprisoned worldwide, some under death sentences. According to Christianity.about.com, “an average of 159,960 Christians worldwide are martyred for their faith per year.” 
So where is faith in the midst of tragedy? 
Claiming faith is easy when life goes well. When tragedy strikes, whether in our personal lives or on a national scale, it’s much more difficult to trust God’s plan.
Faith alone will not provide you with all the answers—nor was it designed to. Faith is like jumping off a cliff and discovering things about yourself and the God you trust in the freefall. But it is also the solid foundation on which you build your Christian life. Without it, you don't fully appreciate the blessings, nor stand firm in adversity.
Is there hope after devastation? 
That’s a tough one to answer, and it often takes long-term reflection to see any blessing or feel hope. However, I read the story this week of a young lady in the movie theater in Colorado who was shot four times, once in the face with the bullet traveling through her brain and lodging in the base of her skull. The team of neurosurgeons who went into the operation to retrieve the bullet gave the family little hope. The bullet had weaved through so many places in her brain, even if she survived, her function would be greatly diminished. Then a miracle happened in the operating room…If you’d like to read the story, click here
Being able to depend on God’s love and comfort in the face of tragedy is reassuring. 
“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2
As the opening quote infers, maybe discovering the why of the unexpected is not important—rather what am I going to do with the experience? What does my life represent in tragedy’s aftermath? I believe part of the answer is to look beyond ourselves and our country’s shores and look at the world through God’s eyes and with His love.
As we go to the Lord in prayer, please remember these folks in your prayers. Add your own requests in the comments below or email me confidential requests.  
·      TC Avey asks that you continue to pray for her father-in-law whose cancer has spread. He is about to start another long round of chemo. A few years back he and his wife adopted three girls (this after raising three kids already). Two of the girls have graduated high school, but the third is only 5 years old.
·       Betty requests prayer for Zackary Taylor, age 10, whom she learned about through the Tim Tebow foundation. Zackary has four brain tumors and is suffering from horrible headches. Please pray for his healing and comfort, as well as his family during this difficult time.
·       Karen Redding with leukemia in hospice care.
·      Courtney, young mother with cancerous brain tumor undergoing chemotherapy, received a fantastic report last week on her treatment and follow-up MRI. Click here to read her praise report.
·      Several folks have employment, housing, and mental health issues.
One of my favorite songs is “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Health. I pray we all strive to see the world through our Savior’s eyes.

God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Creating A Page Turner

Turn the page
“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” Ray Bradbury 
If only it were that easy. Learning to become a marketable writer is like peeling an onion or eating a pomegranate, which I quickly decided takes too much effort for the small gain. Writing, however, is worth the perseverance and learning curve required to become published. 
A major challenge for new writers is creating a page turner. Two basic premises factor into this—hooks and an engaging plot.
You may click here for a prior post on hooking your reader from the opening paragraph. 
From the conference classes I’ve attended, I learned many agents and acquisition editors decide whether to request a full manuscript based on the first page. If they don’t turn the first page, your manuscript is DOA. 
Because if they don’t turn the page to find out what happens next, a reader shopping for books in a bookstore won’t either. They will return it to the shelf and move on to the next book that catches their eye.
But something else will keep your manuscript from being published. I like to call it the pedestrian plot because it moves along at a slow pace accomplishing little for the storyline or character goals and conflicts. 
Since I am a pantser (seat of the pants writer) and not a plotter, I moseyed down the path my characters led me while writing my first manuscript. The finished story seemed wonderful—to me. Identifying its shortcomings and working through several revisions took perseverance, but eventually I began to see the plotter’s point of view. Shocking for you plotters out there, I’m sure. J
Not that I’m fully converted. I still enjoy following my characters' lead. However, the pantser has to at least have a premise of a plot and either plot as they write or take a thorough look at the plot after the first draft is complete.
No matter how good your story premise, characters, or descriptive writing are, these must be backed up by a stellar plot. To do this, create scenes which drive the story. Scenes must develop character conflicts and goals. Each chapter must hook the reader so they have to know what happens in the next chapter. 
I mentioned in early Writers’ Corners postings most published writers spend time in education, whether through attending conferences, reading books or online articles, or working with critique partners. If you have limited resources, one of the easiest ways to learn plotting is to study books you already own and have enjoyed reading. Look at each chapter ending. How does the writer leave you hanging to make you turn the page? How do the characters grow and achieve their goals throughout the book? How do the scenes drive the plot?
Now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite book and why? What about it made you keep turning the pages to find out what would happen next?
God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Praise Report

I wanted to share some news for those of you who have been praying for Courtney during the past several months. As many of you know, she is a young mother with a cancerous brain tumor. She has been undergoing rigorous chemotherapy after brain surgery. Subsequently, she had follow-up gamma knife radiation surgery a few months ago and has continued with chemotherapy. Every two months, a repeat MRI is performed to check treatment progress. She had her MRI today and met with her doctors at Duke University for results. Her sister posted this report on Courtney's Caring Bridge website page about the visit.

"Wow, we are really feeling good!. Dr. Peters came in with a huge smile on her face and said she was soooo happy with the MRI. The area recently radiated looks even better than it did 2 months ago. The other small area they were watching looks exactly the same, which is good news! There is zero swelling now and the cavity has a defined border which all translates to good news! Dr. Peters was beaming and literally had tears on her eyes because she was so happy with the MRI. She was very pleased with her speech and her ability to adapt with her loss of sensation on right side. We couldn't ask for a better team of doctors and nurses. We even found out that she was considered a "special" patient by Dr. Friedman who did her surgery. Court's 1 year surgery anniversary will be July 25th. Looking back to where she was a year ago, she has since retaught herself to walk and talk and basically do everything she did before the surgery. That is a credit to Courtney's determination, faith and God's ability to heal along with the encouragement and prayers from special people like you all! We feel so blessed today and Courtney and our family thank you all for standing with us!"

There's not much I can add except praise God from whom all blessings flow! Thanks to all the faithful prayer partners who've prayed and will continue to pray.

God bless,

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lift Your Eyes

Look to the heavens.
As a little girl, I believed my father could do anything. When my mother, siblings, and I returned from a visit to Miami to see my grandparents, we found our German Shepherd dog Beatles dead. (It was the late 1960s, hence the name J). 
Devastated, I clung to my mom, crying and begging her not to let my older brother David bury the dog. Daddy would be home in a few hours, and he would fix Beatles. My mother tried to explain Daddy couldn’t bring an animal back to life. Inconsolable, I insisted otherwise. Mom finally loaded us into the car and took us to town for ice cream while David buried Beatles.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve tried to imagine what God looks like. Is He a man like you and me? After all, He came down and walked in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. The Bible says we were formed in His image. As the Old Testament progresses, it becomes apparent God is more. Moses wasn’t even allowed to look at God as His glory passed by because of His magnificence and holiness.
As an adult, I realize God encompasses so much, trying to assign a physical label to Him is impossible. 
Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood since the earth was founded? He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. Isaiah 40:21-22
My earthly father has limitations I didn’t see as a child. He couldn’t bring Beatles back, and I eventually got over my hurt feelings. The dog’s passing served its purpose to teach me an early lesson about the finality and grief of death. 
Though our heavenly father has no limitations, we feel since He is capable of doing all things, He should do all we ask. Right? Whatever lessons might be involved in a “no” answer, we’re not interested. The fact that He might have a better alternative to our demands doesn’t matter when we’re staring down a problem. 
“To Whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy one.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name, Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:25-26
I encourage you to turn loose of the worry encompassing you today. Give it to God and trust Him with the answer.
Will you join me in prayer for those who are hurting and walking through trials?
·       Karen Redding in hospice care
·       A friend whose unemployment benefits ran out has now found a minimum wage job at a gas station/store. She praises God for that and all your prayers from last week! I’m requesting you continue to pray for her employment situation—that something in her career field will become available.
·       Several people requesting prayer for health problems such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and mental illness, as well as employment issues.
If you have a prayer request, please leave it in the comment section or email me confidentially. My contact info is above. 
I’d also love to hear how God is working in your lives, so please share your praise reports, as well. 
I first heard this song, "Starry Night" by Chris August a few years ago while attending a fall leaf festival in the North Carolina mountains. It reminds me that God is everywhere in creation. You only have to look around to see this is so. Every aspect of your life matters to Him. 
God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

Monday, July 16, 2012

Great is Your Faithfulness

A New Day Dawning
I did something this morning I can’t take credit for. I woke up. Each new day is a gift from God, our Creator and Sustainer of life. 
The day is ours to do with as we wish. 
Do we consider God’s plans amongst our own? More so, is anything about Him included in our day?
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
God chose to give me this new day. Regardless of whatever might weigh me down today, I choose to give Him praise for that. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow will have its own worries.
Today, a clean slate waits for me to write upon. 
Today, I will allow Him to guide my steps.
What about you?
Father God, we praise you for this beautiful morning. You, who are able to do more than we can imagine—we thank you. You’re in the midst of our problems today, working for our good, even if we can’t see it. Forgive us in the areas where we fall short. Direct our steps for Your glory. Thank you for the mercies you extend to us through your Son Jesus. It’s in His name we kneel before you today. Amen. 

© Laura Hodges Poole

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Handling Rejection

Join me in welcoming author Katherine Lowry Logan to Writers’ Corner this week. She shares her thoughts on a subject all writers experience—rejection. I became acquainted with Kathy after we both finaled in the RWA Emily Contest in 2012. Her manuscript won first place, and mine placed second. We’re not only colleagues but friends. I enjoy her writing and have learned much about the indie publishing perspective through her. Information on her book, The Ruby Brooch, is below. An avid runner, Kathy also competed in her first half-marathon this year.  

Twenty-Six Days to the Finish Line – Handling Rejection
By Katherine Lowry Logan
Panic—we’ve all been there. We all know the rush of adrenalin surging through our bodies. Fear, insecurity, or lack of confidence over something we have to accomplish—a meeting at work, a new project to complete, a presentation to make, a race to run, a final draft emailed to an editor, a job interview, or how about a blind date. Wow. Sixty and dating? (That’s a subject for another post.)
When confronted with one of these scenarios a voice plays in our heads (remember that voice that sounds like our own?) Anyway, that voice tells us we have good reason to be afraid. The last interview we had we failed to get the job. The last manuscript we sent was rejected. The recent presentation we made fell flat. So how do we control the panic? 
We prepare. We visualize. We follow a script. We pray a lot. We do our best because anything less is unacceptable. And if we do our best and we still don’t land the job or sell the manuscript, we suck up the disappointment and look for other opportunities. Of course it hurts. But how you handle that hurt, determines success the next time around, and the next.
Analyze the rejection or “the pass” as they say in the publishing world. What did the potential employer or the editor see in me or in my writing that I haven’t noticed before? What can I do to improve?  It’s much easier to blame the interviewer or the editor and say they didn’t “get” me, or they didn’t see the value of my contribution, or my work. It’s their loss. If you view the rejection in that light, it’s easy to stay stuck in the moment and feel resentful, which takes a lot of energy that could be used to learn something new. 
Last September I received passes from two big publishers within days of each other. My immediate reaction was to blow it off and blame them for not taking my work seriously. Then after the initial hurt passed, I went to work analyzing their comments to determine what I could do to address their concerns, not for resubmission but for future submissions. What’s the point of falling short of a goal if you don’t learn something about yourself? It’s not easy, but it’s necessary if you want to reach the next goal you set.  
My ankle is still swollen from my fall the other day, and I won’t be able to log the miles I need. Panic could easily set in, but I choose not to let it, at least for today, and I can’t worry about tomorrow until it gets here. Then I’ll have another choice to make. I hope it's not to worry about tomorrow.
Happy writing and running, Kathy

Katherine is a long distance runner and an avid reader who turned her love of reading into a passion for writing contemporary and historical romances. A graduate of Rowan University in New Jersey, she earned a BA in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. Following graduation, Katherine attended the Philadelphia Institute for Paralegal Training earning a General Practice Certification. She returned to Central Kentucky and worked for twenty years as a paralegal and law firm office manager. With an educational focus on psychology and the law, Katherine’s plots typically include a mystery for the hero and heroine to solve while on an emotional journey seeking love and forgiveness. Her book, a sweeping time-travel romance, The Ruby Brooch was released in 2012. She is currently working on two additional time-travels and a contemporary romance. You can connect with her through her website http://www.katherinellogan.com/

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Live Out Loud

“Every man dies. Not every man really lives.” William Wallace (Scottish commander)
Jesus spent more than three years patiently teaching his disciples in preparation for their individual ministries. After the Last Supper and before his crucifixion, Jesus gave final instructions and then spent his last hours in prayer. 
Although Jesus admonished the disciples and Jewish leaders often about their dense minds and hearts, his delight leaps off the page when, at last, the disciples have their “aha” moment.
“Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.” (John 16:30)
“You believe at last!” Jesus answered. “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:31-33)
Jesus lived out loud. His time on earth was limited, and he knew this. He didn’t have time to mince words or worry about political correctness. Everything he did served a purpose.
In his final hours, Jesus prayed for the disciples and then prayed for all believers. 
“I pray also for those who will believe in me through their [disciples] message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:20b-23)
Jesus believed in the power of prayer. He believed in making the most of whatever time you’re given on this earth for His Father’s service. 
Are you living out loud for Christ? Does the world see His glory in your actions?
As we go to the Lord in prayer, please share your prayer requests in the comments section or email me confidentially. 
Please pray for healing, comfort, and strength for: 
·       Lori, my cousin’s wife, who has been diagnosed with metastatic cancer and given six months to live.
·       Courtney, young mother with cancerous brain tumor, receiving treatment through Duke. She will have repeat MRI this month to check treatment progress.
·        Emily, a 12-year-old with bone cancer.
·        TC’s father-in-law with cancer.
·        Betty’s father-in-law with Alzheimer’s.
·        Karen with leukemia in hospice care. 
·       A friend trying to find work and her unemployment benefits have run out. She is down to her last $100. Pray specifically she will find a job this week.
·       Those dealing with difficult family situations, mental illness, depression, health problems, and employment issues.  

Take a moment to enjoy this song from Steven Curtis Chapman, “Live Out Loud.”

God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lessons From Mayberry

Andy & Opie
“Well, now, take down your fishin' pole, and meet me at The Fishin' Hole, we may not get a bite all day, but don't you rush away. What a great place to rest your bones, and mighty fine for skippin' stones, you'll feel fresh as a lemonade, a-settin' in the shade. (Andy Griffith Show theme song, by Everett Sloane, Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer)
Like many on Tuesday, I was saddened by the news of Andy Griffith’s death. His passing marked the end of an era which represented wholesome writing and delivery of quality television programming. The Andy Griffith Show proved a writer can weave a story to captivate viewers’ imaginations without resorting to the smoke-and-mirrors of the sex and violence permeating our entertainment and literature today. 
The success of The Andy Griffith Show was in Andy’s ability to make the viewer wish they lived in the fictitious town of Mayberry. A place where you could sit on the porch on a Sunday afternoon while Andy played his guitar and debated with Barney about getting a bottle of pop at Wally’s filling station or churn homemade ice cream with Opie and Aunt Bee. For thirty minutes, Mayberry existed and we were part of it. 
Andy’s death aroused emotions in everyone on some level. We all have our favorite Mayberry moments and characters. But beyond that, his impact on American culture is unrivaled in the entertainment industry. 
As I thought about this, I considered the parallels of what Andy Griffith taught us through his show and life—and how these lessons can be applied to our work as writers.  
Establish Boundaries
Though Griffith starred in a variety of roles, among them a curmudgeon attorney in Matlock and a few “bad guys,” he was mindful of the morals and standards he represented, and to an extent, set his career priorities accordingly. From a 2008 interview with the Virginian-Pilot:
He [Griffith] mused that he'd passed on the role of the foul-mouthed grandfather in "Little Miss Sunshine," the part that brought the supporting-actor Oscar to Alan Arkin last year. "I wouldn't say I was offered it or anything like that, but it was sent to me, and I read it, and I said, 'Nah. I couldn't ever go back and do a gospel album after I played that part.' "
As a Christian writer, I appreciate his need for boundaries which, if crossed, could potentially unravel the work he deemed most important. Gospel music undoubtedly topped his list. 
Authenticity Matters
I once heard Andy Griffith remark in an interview about the importance of authenticity in characters and setting. Though filmed in the ‘60s, the tumultuous world events did not permeate Mayberry. The show wasn’t used as a political vehicle or soapbox. Instead, Mayberry was an escape to simpler times. Griffith learned in the first season to yield to Don Knotts’ character Barney Fife. In doing so, he explained, his own character was less cornball and the show had real humor. 
Perhaps that’s why after fifty years, The Andy Griffith Show is still as popular as ever. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the show airs somewhere in the U.S. round-the-clock, 365 days a year.
Wherever you are and whatever you have been called to write or minister—do so at God’s guidance. If you try anything other than authenticity with your readers, it will be apparent. 
Remain True to Your Roots
My family and I visited Andy’s home town of Mount Airy, NC, twice when we lived in North Carolina years ago. We enjoyed walking down Main Street, visiting Floyd’s barber shop (still in business), the soda fountain in the drug store, eating grilled cheese sandwiches at the diner, and then taking in a radio show at the local movie theater. 
Mount Airy hosts Mayberry Days each fall where many of the former TV stars return. The actress who played Thelma Lou on the show moved there after becoming disillusioned with the Hollywood lifestyle.
Andy lived most of his life in North Carolina, mostly in the Outer Banks. He was buried a few hours after his death on his farm on Roanoke Island.
Where and when was your creativity born? When you lack motivation and creativity, return to the beginning and explore the reasons you started writing in the first place. 
Good Work Stands the Test of Time
The ‘70s saw a closure for “rural” television shows and the birth of political activism shows like All In The Family and MASH. However, Andy, Barney, Opie, Aunt Bee, Floyd, and Gomer could not be replaced. What they represent—simple times, honest friends, good triumphing over evil—is what beckons us back to Mayberry repeatedly, despite the fact we’ve seen the episodes so many times we can quote them verbatim. They reinforce that character matters in all you do. 
Andy Griffith played dozens of roles in his acting career, some of which were not always admirable people. But he struck gold when he created Sheriff Andy Taylor.
“I guess you could say I created Andy Taylor," he said. "Andy Taylor's the best part of my mind. The best part of me." (Associated Press)
Godspeed, Ang. Thanks for the memories. 
“We'll have no need to call the roll when we get to The Fishin' Hole, there'll be you, me, and Old Dog Trey, to doodle time away. If we don't hook a perch or bass, we'll cool our toes in dewy grass, or else pull up a weed to chaw, and maybe set and jaw. Come on, take down your fishin' pole and meet me at The Fishin' Hole, I can't think of a better way to pass the time o' day.” (Sloane, Hagen, & Spencer)
© Laura Hodges Poole

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Prayer For You

“Anything large enough for a wish to light upon, is large enough to hang a prayer upon.” George MacDonald (Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister)
I’m traveling this week, but my heart is with all of you as well as your prayer needs today.
The Bible overflows with wonderful prayers. The book of Psalms holds both sorrowful and praise-filled prayers. Often perceived as a sad book, Lamentations contains beautiful exaltations. The New Testament shares Jesus’ and the apostles’ prayers. 
One of my favorites is Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. As we join together to pray for each other’s needs today, would you take a moment to meditate on this prayer as a precursor to your own? Although originally intended for the Ephesians, Paul’s prayer is for all Christians.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21
Please add your prayer requests in the comments section below so others can pray for you. Feel free to email me confidential requests. My contact info is above. Remember the folks who have requested prayer in past weeks. I pray for safe celebrations of Independence Day and for the spiritual revival of this great nation!
Enjoy this song by Third Day, “God of Wonders,” as we lift our hands to the One who has granted us eternal freedom through Him.  

God bless,