Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tweet! Tweet!


As a newbie to Facebook and Twitter, I have probably unknowingly and unintentionally overstepped many rules of social networking etiquette. Terms such as “like”, “block”, “confirm”, “friend” (as a verb), “link”, and “tweet” still knit wrinkles into my brow and cause me to tap my chin as I ponder just what these ordinary words might mean in an online context.

Being honest, I joined these networks at the recommendation of author and businessman Daniel Gasteiger, who teaches on social media marketing for writers. He insists that an online presence is essential for today's writer.

In an article in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Preeta Samarasan, author of Evening Is The Whole Day, says it is practical for a writer to use Facebook. “Writers need audiences . . . we need people to show up to our events, to read our stories and our essays and our blog posts, perhaps to be lured by our views on politics and culture into seeking out our work offline.”

If we are serious about a career as a writer, Joanna Penn of www.TheCreativePenn.com offers five more reasons why we need to embrace technology and social networking:
  • People are online. If we engage on social network sites, provide information on our blogs or produce our work in podcast audio format, we are more likely to get readers.

  • It is the best way to build an author platform. If we have an online presence, we will reach people globally and will gain a following.

  •  The tools have never been easier and they are free. Point and click is all we need to do to access the most influential websites in the world--Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

  • Publishing is changing and e-books are exploding. We need to enable people to buy our books in any format they like.

  • Mobile devices are exploding and the internet is going mobile. Millions of people who can’t afford a computer can surf the web on a mobile device—opening up a whole new world of readers.


To read Joanna’s entire article click HERE.

So, to help spread the word about the Christ-centered and encouraging blogs that are available, I plan to tweet or post a link on Facebook to a few of these uplifting devotionals each day. After all, like Paul, we want to “become all things to all people, that save some of them may be saved by whatever means are possible.”

Blessings!
Pam

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Empty Nest? Tips to Stay Connected with Fledglings

Three o’clock came and went and no one threw open the front door. The volume control on the car radio was exactly where I left it. The bag of pretzels I munched on had been in the cupboard for nearly a week. My husband and I were officially empty nesters.

I have to admit it was a weird, mixed up feeling. Half of me wanted to shout “Halleluiah!”—no more meals served in shifts, no more arguments over curfews, and no more drama over friendships on the fritz.

The other half of me speculated about what my grown children were up to, prayed constantly about how they were adjusting, and missed them terribly. Many parents are experiencing these same feelings this week and are wondering how they can stay connected. Here are a few simple tips our little flock found helpful when our fledglings left the nest.

CALL: Sometimes I just needed to hear my son or daughter’s voice. Talking over everyday happenings—the neighbor’s cat had five kittens, the pizza shop downtown has a new name (again), or a high school friend’s engagement— kept us bonded together and reassured me that my child was fine. We called often, but found it worked best to set a regular time when a call could be expected. 

TEXT/EMAIL: For short messages and quick answers, nothing beats text and email. It’s worth the investment. When our son was stationed in England, email was our lifeline to him. With just the click of a mouse he could easily request the recipe for his favorite chocolate “Wacky” cake or find out which over-the-counter allergy meds we recommended.

WRITE: People still enjoy discovering a personal letter or thoughtfully chosen greeting card in the mailbox. In this world of easily deleted communiqu├ęs, letters and cards are a physical keepsake that lasts.

SHARE PRAYER: We often called or emailed each other for prayer when we (or a friend or relative) needed it—for sickness, jobs, relationship, upcoming tests, whatever. It became an extension of our previous morning routine when our family shared prayer and a reading from a devotional booklet. When the kids left the nest, we continued the tradition by picking up a couple of extra booklets to mail to them. Though many days the booklets went unopened, both kids appreciated the connection with home they felt when they read them.

TRUST: Best of all, as your heart plays a tug of war this week, remember:
“If [my child] rises on the wings of the dawn, if [my child] settles on the far side of the sea, even there [God’s] hand will guide [them], [God’s] right hand will hold [my child] fast.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide [my child], and the light will become night,’ even the darkness will not be dark to [God]; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to [God]. Psalm 139:9-12 (NIV)

No matter where our child goes, no matter what he or she may do, God is with them. His holy hands won’t let go.

Blessings today and every day!
Pam

©2011 Pamela D. Williams



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mewsings



August days in Pennsylvania are hot and lazy. Swinging gently back and forth on our old wooden porch swing, I sip from a glass of ice-cold tea and absently pet the old gray cat resting beside me.

Shimmering heat-waves radiate
From the sun-drenched earth
As Old Gray Cat sleeps peacefully
On the quilt-covered porch swing.

Honey bees buzz among the sweet-scented clover,
And locusts rasp their summer note,
Their monotonous drone echoed
In Old Gray Cat’s gentle snores.

Unobserved, the giant tiger swallowtail
Silently drifts along on the sultry air,
While three gauzy white moths
Pirouette over the wildflowers.

Suddenly, a robin dips and arcs across the lawn
To perch on the white picket fence.
Catching a glimpse of his ancient enemy,
He chirps an agitated warning.

Old Gray Cat momentarily awakens
And lifts his head to sniff the air.
But the porch swing is too cozy,
The sun hypnotically warm.

Tucking in his paws,
The cat sighs and closes his eyes.
Some other time the flicker of wings may entice him,
But not today.

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

PART TWO: Welcome OR Keep Out?



“Good morning! How are you folks? I don’t believe I’ve seen you here before."

The lady's friendly smile and warm clasp on Beth's hand seemed genuine. "I'm Cindy. Welcome to Everett United Methodist!"

“Thanks! I’m Beth. This is my husband Chris.”

Cindy grabbed Chris’ hand, too, and stood chatting with the couple for a few more minutes; she introduced them to some of the people as they meandered in.

Beth looked around for her cousin (who had invited them to the church), but didn’t see her anywhere. As she and Chris made their way to a pew, many people stood to shake hands and welcome them, and several reached out and hugged them.

By the time the couple found a seat, they were both overwhelmed by the kindness extended to them. Tears threatened to spill down Beth’s cheeks. Chris kept a comforting arm around her shoulder.

“That was not what I expected,” Chris whispered in her ear.

“No, it wasn’t!” Beth agreed.

Then she smiled so big it wrinkled her nose, crinkled her eyes, and dried all traces of tears. “It was awesome!”

Right then and there they decided they would come back the next week.

The following Sunday a mission trip to Mississippi was announced. A group from the Altoona area planned to travel to down to help victims of Hurricane Katrina fix up their homes. In Seasons of the Soul: Weathered by Faith, a collection of devotionals from the Everett United Methodist Church, Chris shares, “Following the service, [I] asked about the trip. Learning the details, [I] signed up, thinking ‘I don’t know anything about being a Christian, but I know a lot about building houses.’”

That was the first of eight mission trips and the start of a new chapter in the lives of Chris and Beth, a chapter full of exciting beginnings—the beginning of a relationship with Jesus as Savior, the beginning of a covenant with a church family, the beginning of a call to ministry!

My husband and I had the great privilege of seeing all this unfold firsthand. I praise God for the cousin who invited Beth and Chris and for the Everett United Methodist Church, who unlocked their hearts, opened their arms, and welcomed two precious gifts from God into their fellowship—tattoos, peepy-colored hair and all! What an awesome blessing Beth and Chris have been!

“Don't forget to welcome strangers.
By doing that, some people have welcomed angels
without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2


P.S. Beth is now EUMC's church secretary and is studying for pastoral ministry! Chris started a Volunteers in Mission team that works on local projects bringing together those who wish to serve and those who have needs in the Everett area. GOD IS SOOOOO GOOD!

Blessings all!
Pam

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

PART ONE: Welcome OR Keep Out?


The tattooed man and woman at the entrance to the sanctuary stood out among the other congregants. Chris and Beth had purposely dressed casually, choosing outfits that accented rather than hid their body art. And, while the pews were dotted with heads in all shades of blond, brunette, auburn, and silver, no one else sported the bright, newborn-chick-yellow of the couple’s spiked hair. 

Friends and relatives had been encouraging them for quite a while to give the Methodist church on Main Street a try. “There’s something different about it,” Beth’s cousin told her. 

Tentative and apprehensive, Chris and Beth hesitated at the door, wondering what sort of welcome they would receive. Nothing prepared the couple for what awaited them. . .

Being honest, what kind of reception would Chris and Beth be given at your church? Would they be warmly welcomed? How would people react? Would the congregation rely solely on the “assigned” greeters to welcome the couple? Would you personally reach out to them? What thoughts would go through your mind? What would you say to them? What would you do? Would you bury your nose in your bulletin to avoid eye contact or would you slide over and make room beside you?

Stop back tomorrow for the rest of the story. . .


“The LORD does not look at the things people look at.
People look at the outward appearance,
but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

Blessings all!
Pam

©2011 Pamela D. Williams