The Ministry of Medical Care Personnel

I recently spent time in a hospital. This is not my favorite past time, by any means. However, the Lord sometimes interrupts our own agendas to take care of needed repairs. During my stay, I experienced exceptional care from all the staff from the dietitian, custodian, nurses, nurses, aides, technicians, and doctors. I thought how each one of these people served in a ministry. Each had their specific skill sets, areas of ability, and represented their facility. How blessed I was in their hands!

Lately, I’ve been studying to “have the mind of Christ” through scripture and our adult Sunday School book study. I realized how weak I am, and my priorities needed rearranged. Too often my thoughts focus on this world and its ways. If I seek the Lord’s Kingdom first each day, He orders my day more effectively. After I spend time reading His Word, communicating with Him through prayer, confessing my sins and weaknesses, He permeates me with His peace. Once that happens, He is free to guide me through His will for my service on earth that day.

Through this time of study, I see “work” as service areas. No matter what type of occupation you have, it’s a service to each other on this earth. When I taught, it was a ministry, When I sing at church, it’s another type of service for building up others. Another avenue of service the Lord recently gave me is ministering to middle-grade students through the books He helps me author. My service for the King of Kings is as important as the medical staff that served me, and whatever you do as a mother in the home, day-care center, sanitary trash collector, is as important as my areas of service and the hospital staff.

Praise the Lord that He can use a negative situation to cause us to reflect on His plan for our lives. He helps us evaluate our lives in terms of His will, and discover value and worth of all avenues of service for His glory!

What are your areas of service? Have you thought of what you do as a ministry? What impact on your attitude does thinking of your work as a ministry make? I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thanks for taking your time to visit and read my posts. I appreciate you for doing so.

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Fall, A Beautiful Season

Fall is showing its colors and characteristics everywhere I look. I love this season, and never tire of its splendor.

The cooler temperatures are my friend. Clear, crisp 60’s and 70’s in the daytime, and great sleeping weather at night at 40’s and 50’s. I feel more alive at this time of the year than any other. As a girl growing up, I played outside with my neighbors until dusk – kick ball, football, basketball, baseball, Whiffle ball, Hide and Seek, bike riding, races, Red Rover, Red Rover.

Our neighborhood used to rake piles of leaves and jump into them, hide in them, and burn them at the curbs while roasting marsh mellows and hot dogs. Maple, Oak, and Elm trees decorated our block, and so did colorful fall Mums and Gladioli.

It seems families are too busy today to spend time outside in the fall. Autumn offers so many activities that other seasons can’t. Block parties seem rare. How do neighbors support one another today? How does communication with them take place in our fast-paced world? My family always watched out for our neighbors, and they did the same for us.

Fall is a perfect time to stay in close communication. This season invites us to get outdoors, walk, notice the trees with colorful leaves, fall flowers, and breathe the crisp air into our lungs. Even those with allergies can take medicines to help with all that Fall has to offer. My husband prepares for next year’s flowers and plants, since Fall is when bulbs of many types of flowers need planted. Do you agree that Autumn is a special time of the year?

What is your favorite season, and why? Do you join in any neighborhood activities and events connected to this season? I would like hearing from you on this topic. Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog(s)!

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What Does It Take to Publish a Book?

Mary Martsching - Website Hostess & Author

Mary Martsching – Website Hostess & Author

Several weeks ago while visiting with a friend, I shared my progress about my two new books. She wanted to know how close I was toward getting them published. She expressed surprise of all I had to do just to prepare it myself. As she said, “I didn’t realize there was so much involved in writing a book. I just thought you wrote the story and that was it!”

Based on her reaction, I thought I’d share with you what all authors do besides just writing the story. First, most authors revise and edit many times before submitting the finished product to a publisher, or intermediary organization like I use – West Bow Press. I also read it out loud to a student for whom the readership age applies to get their reaction and comments. Then I read it to my husband, and then I ask another person to read it. Advice from others is crucial to me.

After I make suggested changes, I read it out loud to myself again. Many times this leads to more changes. I take a break from reading it for a week or more. When I return to the manuscript, I read it at least one last time before I send it to West Bow Press.

When I send the story, I complete their submission forms. As part of their requirements, I must create excerpts for Amazon.com for their “Look Inside” feature, and give a brief synopsis of what the story is about. I also compose information for the back of the book, and for the inside flaps telling more information about the story line. Next, I write about myself in a short biography of 150 words and upload a photo of myself for this biography.

After this, it’s time to create page extensions, or extra pages for my story. Usually this consists of an introduction, and listing the credits for books or organizations where I gathered research of the lighthouse I use for my setting, and the area where it’s located. I include an afterword where I use this research to tell the reader more about the real lighthouse. Then I move on to compose a table of contents, a glossary (if needed), resource page, and a Readers Guide for teachers, or readers to use for literature circles or book clubs. Since I write Christian fiction books, I include a Bible verse in the front of my book.

Next, I move to the external and internal design of the book. That’s where I am now. While I do this work, West Bow Press reads the book, checks for legalities (no plagiarism, copyright violations, etc.), and they apply to the Library of Congress for a control number and copyright information. West Bow’s editorial staff reads my book and makes a report over the content, and they offer recommendations about editing needs. If I decide to use their services for editing, it is a separate charge . This editing takes weeks and even months.

At the same time, I research photos I have access to through the package I purchased from West Bow Press. I know that the cover is a promise to my readers about what they will read about inside, so I am very particular about what I want for my cover design. Sometimes I can’t find what I want for my cover designs, so I hire an artist. This requires time to meet with and discuss what I want, and then waiting a month or more to see the designs. If the cover needs modified, that takes even more time.  Hiring an artist is an extra charge. All of this takes days and weeks – even months. Once I have the inside (page setup, page positioning, and editing corrections) done, and the outside all chosen and completed, I send these to West Bow Press to finish the design and print the copies I order. I buy copies and sell them myself.

This leads me to the marketing part of writing. Marketing of the book occurs throughout this entire process and beyond. I self-promote my books through social media – Face Book, this website, LinkedIn, writing groups and organizations. I arrange for newspaper and radio interviews as well as book signings.  I hire professionals to help create promotional materials such as my sell-sheet, posters, fliers, and business cards. I create author packets for visits to schools, church groups, and various organizations. I research book sales sites where my books might be offered, and send correspondence seeking their interest in selling my books on their sites. These last three years, classes on marketing ideas and strategies are a regular part of my life, and this takes time, money and application.

As you can see, an author does more than write a story. Each book requires all the above steps, and I am working on my second and third books simultaneously! It’s a lot of work, time, and effort, but this is true for any business. I enjoy writing for middle-grade students, so I focus on my goal – seeing their faces as they read the pages I carefully wrote, and hearing their remarks as they share about the book with others. For me, it truly is a “labor of love,” and my personal ministry that connects to the age group of students I enjoy! It is exhilarating to see my name on the finished book cover, and I love hearing from anyone who reads my books!

What about you? What questions do you want to ask about the writing business? Are you interested in writing for a living? Share with me your thoughts and/or experiences with reading and writing. Thanks for coming to my website and interacting with me!

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Hats Off to Moms

 Photos Taken During Mother/Daughter Brunch

Hat Parade 5-3-14

Girls singing in honor of mothers.

Girls singing in honor of mothers.

Men served us at the brunch

Men served us at the brunch

Maizel sharing how to make poupouri sachet.

Maizel sharing how to make potpourri sachet.

Mary and Stephanie, hostesses, speaking with a guest, Dawn Kelly.

Mary and Stephanie, hostesses, speaking with a guest, Dawn Kelly.

Waiting to share about their choices of hats.

Waiting to share about their choices of hats.

Guests visiting while waiting to eat. My mother and sister are at this end of the photo.

Guests visiting while waiting to eat. My mother and sister are at this end of the photo.

A guest with her darling daughter.

A guest with her darling daughter.

Someone discovered the candy!

Someone discovered the candy!

There was no lack of food to serve!

There was no lack of food to serve!

Karen Bowen, seated, and Maizel Dunn, standing, led the craft-making activities.

Karen Bowen, seated, and Maizel Dunn, standing, led the craft-making activities.

 

On Saturday, May 3rd, our church celebrated mothers with a Mother/Daughter Brunch. We served fantastic Breakfast casseroles, cinnamon rolls, biscuits and gravy, egg and cheese muffins, fresh fruit, and French Toast Bakes. Young girls who accompanied their mothers recited poetry and sang songs in honor of their mothers and all of those who attended. Guests then heard a devotional describing the character qualities of a virtuous woman found in Proverbs 31.

Our theme was Hats Off to Godly Mothers so we invited attendees to wear a hat of their choice to this event. What a wonderful time we had during the Hat Parade as hat-wearers shared why they chose the hat they wore! Guests then selected crafts to create – either a fragrant sachet, tissue paper flowers, or decorating handkerchiefs or hats with trinkets, charms, flowers, ribbons, and scripture. Before closing,  mothers received gifts for certain categories – oldest, youngest, mother who raised the most children, who traveled the farthest, and the most unusual hat and to those who contributed in a special way to enhance the event. All young girls chose a beautiful hair-bow as their gift for coming.

Men served the meal, and did a truly wonderful job in assisting women with drinks at the tables and helping them carry their trays of food. These men enjoyed their meal while the women moved to the sanctuary for the program.

Young girls learned what all duties a mother performs on a regular basis through the poems they shared and the devotional presented. They also learned how the Lord honors mothers and women through scripture, through table conversations during and after the meals, and by watching their mothers interact with other moms at this event.

I enjoyed hearing women fellowship with one another, and I thank the Lord for His creation of women and His institution of marriage and family.

How does your church honor mothers and women? Have you ever attended a Mother/Daughter celebration? Please share with me your experiences and/or thoughts on this topic. Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. I appreciate you!

Mary

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FUN IN NORFOLK, VIRGINIA

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Visiting family is my favorite past time. My husband and I recently returned from babysitting our three grandchildren in Virginia. Hayden (9) and Heath (6) love hockey and soccer. Keeping up with their level of activity challenges their super-fit parents. Their super un-fit grandparents struggle with their amount of endurance and energy.

Then add their sister, Madeline (5), and the challenge increases exponentially! Maddie loves those two sports, but she sings popular songs and performs ballet, too. Often I witness this with her fashion statements. She wears a hockey helmet, beautiful sparkly, pink slippers, carries a pink purse over her shoulder, and dons either goalie pants, or a fairy princess dress!

While their parents both traveled on business, we drove them to their schools and after-school activities. I squeezed supper in there somehow each day. Weekends maintained the same level of activity.

One day while the children attended school, Owen took me to visit the Fort Henry Lighthouse. Besides my family, lighthouses are a huge passion of mine! There were actually two of them. The original one was open to the public, so we took the tour and climbed to the top in the watch room – 192 steps! I loved it! We could see out to the ocean and could understand why this lighthouse served mariners well.

Fort Henry comprised most of the land on which the lighthouses stood. During the Revolutionary War, battles for the entrance to America were instrumental in blocking supplies to Cornwallis. Eventually that British Commander surrendered partly due to the American’s victories there. We could not visit the newer Fort Henry Lighthouse for safety hazard reasons.

What are your passions? I would love to hear about them. Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog! I hope I hear from you soon.

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Sticks and Stones…

Over the years I’ve noticed how difficult it is for people to receive compliments. Some suspected I use flattery to manipulate them for my benefit. Most laughed off the comment, or denied it completely. When I took the time to extend a compliment, I meant it sincerely.

I think perhaps people are more accustomed to criticism, and therefore, they do not expect someone to make a positive remark to, or about them. How sad this is! How disappointing it is to me when my compliment is not received graciously! I recently started saying, “Okay. You’re right. I’m just a liar…” This usually gets their attention, and they think about what their response says to the one granting the compliment.

In the book of Ephesians of the Bible, the apostle Paul tells Christians this in 4:29: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but instead that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”  If we follow this command, we could end people expecting only criticism from others.

In Acts 24: 10 Paul says “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” Movies, television shows, jokes, Face Book comments, and speech in general would be much more pleasant.

The next time you feel tempted to say something mean-spirited or off-color, think about whether the remark is corrupt, or if it might build someone up (edify) the hearer.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my post. Please leave a comment below about this what I wrote and your experience with granting compliments and the person’s response.

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Focus Friday

I found this website and thought some of my friends could relate to both the poster and her books. This author went through a lot in the process of trying to have a baby.

Focus Friday.

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