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The Power of Networking

I spent four days this week with people who gave me a sense of camaraderie that doesn't exist in most of my other social circles. As nearly 200 people gathered in the north woods for an annual convention, we had one thing in common; we were all involved in camp ministry in some way. From executives, to maintenance people, interns, housekeepers, secretaries, and ministry wives, we connected because of our common goal of reaching people through outdoor ministry. We celebrated our diversity. We bunked together in cabins and snored in harmony with one another (while some of us shared a mutual affliction of sleep deprivation). We broke bread together. But it was more than that.

We nurtured one another in prayer and shared our burdens. We fed our souls from God's Word. We came away refreshed. It's important that we not forget the value of networking with others who share our interests and understand our heart desires. Through networking relationships we gain more than a career association or the potential to discover industry secrets. We gain a connection with people, a connection that provides a source of encouragement when we're slumping into discouragement. We build relationships that stretch us and challenge us to pursue excellence. And like a distant cousins at a family reunion, we know we'll pick up where we left off the next time we see one another.

Who's in your network? What do you share in common? How are you building one another up and encouraging each other to keep pressing on? Take time to thank the people in your network today.


Writers, Connect Your Dots

Recommended Reading for Writers

I'm speaking for a group of writers tonight and thought I'd create some quick links to my favorite resources that I'll be recommending. If you are a writer or you know a writer, here are some great books for connecting the dots between your spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health as a writer.

If you have a favorite writing resource, feel free to leave it in a comment and I'll add it to a future post.



Taking On Deuteronomy

Can Deuteronomy be the basis for a fiction story that contains solid Biblical truth? I'm about to find out. This week I'm tackling a 500 page work of fiction titled "The Deuteronomy Project" by Richard B. Couser. Several months ago, Couser went to be with the Lord after a battle with cancer, and in honor of his life and his writing, I'm hosting his last writing project on tour on my blog. In his preface, Couser said this is "a valuable resource for those who long to understand the Scriptures but are reluctant to read dry, academic, or narrowly sectarian commentaries."

Couser uses fiction characters to tell the story and explore scripture through conversations between retired pastor, Hal, and new Christian, Chris Green, and through reflections and thoughts of these characters. The book contains all 34 chapters of Deuteronomy woven throughout. I'm looking forward to sampling a writing style I haven't previously explored, and I'll post back with a review when I finish.


The Cattle on 1000 Hills

Recently, I spent a week in California and it was a refreshing break from the Wisconsin Narnia. For the non-Narnia fans that's never-ending winter. Now, lest the rest of you who live in tundra climates feel a twinge of envy, I must admit that I was near San Francisco and the February temps there were in the 50's and 60's. Not exactly basking in the sun, but certainly a reminder of Spring! And I'll also admit that they're in their rainy season, so I didn't see the sun until the fourth day of my trip. But the rain made it worth the wait! The last time I was in California, it was wildfire season. This time, everything was lush and green.

One afternoon, as we traveled from sightseeing in San Francisco back to my sister's home, I had a moment of déjà vu. As I took in the beauty of the rolling green hills and valleys, I recalled a previous trek on this same highway several years earlier. At that time, anxiety and sadness mingled in my mind and circled like the smoke rising from the burning hills. I was nervous about my upcoming flight home and sad about leaving my sister behind, so far from Wisconsin. I didn't speak to the others in the car about my thoughts. As the others chattered, I noticed black, tan, and brown cattle dotting many of the hills, and despite nearby charred spots from extinguished fires, these cattle grazed in calm, unharmed.

I remembered a line from scripture about God owning the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10). Peace washed over me and I knew that everything was in His hands--my flight, my sister's future, my unspoken worries. I pulled out my camera and snapped a picture so I could remember how God spoke to my heart through those scattered herds. Just a few verses after the one about cattle, Psalm 50:15 says, "Trust me in your times of trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory."

Now, in the moments of remembering, I found renewed hope in seeing those cattle once again. And once again, I pulled out my camera.


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