How Was Joseph A Hero?

Read Matthew 1:18-25

We know Joseph from the Christmas story that is told every December. People talk about the birth of Jesus and all that Mary went through, but not very often is it mentioned that Joseph’s patience was extremely important to how it all turned out.

I can’t imagine what Joseph felt like when he found out his plans had changed without his consent. He knew the baby wasn’t his. He could’ve divorced Mary and changed the whole story.

But he didn’t.

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream to encourage him to take Mary home as his wife instead of divorcing her. He obeyed the angel because he believed the message was from God.

Then he patiently waited to see what God was going to do.

Joseph had heard about Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and her silent husband. Elizabeth gave birth to John about six months before Mary gave birth to Jesus. I’d guess that John’s parents had a lot to say about what God was doing. In fact, the first thing Zechariah did when he could speak again was praise God. He sang a song of praise about what God was doing – and it wasn’t about his son John.

The nine months of waiting and watching Mary’s belly grow was a daily reminder that God had big plans for the baby. Joseph was patient and accepted the blessing from God.

I’m sure Mary was thanking God for giving her a hero husband who stood by her in his patience.


Today's post on Seek God With Me is about God wrapping his arm of protection around us.

If you're worried about family members who are on their way to your home for Christmas, just open your Bible and take comfort in God's plan of protection. Read Psalm 91 - out loud if you have to.

God knows your name. He knows where your family is. He even knows the number of hairs on your head. And he is well able to protect you and your family this holiday season.

Honor God with confidence and trust in him.

How To Improve Heroes, part three

Heroes can’t be lazy. They have to be heroic, so give them something to do. Create an interesting and dangerous character to oppose the hero. Create the perfect setting in which they can do battle. But how should the hero do battle?

Tip #3: Read Techniques of Selling Writer.

This timeless book, written in the 1960’s, has guided countless thousands toward publication. I heard about it from writer resource lists on several author web sites. It’s a very popular book.

Dwight Swain fascinates me with his detailed explanation of how to bring a story to life. I’ve marked up this book cover to cover with pencil, pen, and highlighter. My copy has dog-eared pages, bookmarks, and sticky notes in it. Why? The generous instruction draws me back to continue re-reading the book several times.

But the best way to learn to write is to write. And the best place to begin is at the beginning. Swain’s tips on how to open a story are logical, practical, and valuable.

He teaches on the purpose of the focal character, how to develop a villain properly, and when to add second-by-second details. The way he categorizes story parts into scene and sequel helps a writer organize the events and give the proper amount of time to each event. His tips on building conflict and how to control pacing are also noteworthy.

What is a story? According to Swain, it’s how somebody deals with danger. Little Red Riding Hood had to deal with danger. So did Huckleberry Finn and Scarlett O’Hara. A good story has danger in its beginning, middle, and end. A hero who doesn’t deal with danger isn’t in a story.

For more information about Techniques of Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain, get a copy for yourself.

Coming in January: more tips to improve heroes.

Some Alone Time

Today on my Seek God With Me blog, I share a secret of intimacy with God.

How do you speak to God?

As a servant? As a child? As a lover?

When you check out my blog post, remember to spend a little time with God and put into practice what you learn.

Christmas List

This time of year, children are writing out their wish lists and handing them to parents, but not without preparing for the handoff by putting on their most innocent smile.

With my smile comes a wink. I realize that I'm not getting the things on my list, but it's nice to dream.

1. The Judy Jetson Hairdo Maker:
Many years ago on our early 1970's television, I watched Judy Jetson have her hair done before my very eyes - in seconds - and it looks just fabulous every time. I want one of those machines. Too bad I've only seen the animated cartoon version.

2. Ergonomic Massage Chair with Seat Belt:
I've sat in massage chairs where you press a button, let the rollers bump up and down your spine and you melt into a puddle of mush. When I get my massage chair - in which I will sit and call out spelling words to my kids after school, I won't have to keep adjusting my sitting position because I'll be seat-belted. Also, it will be ergonomically adjusted to my proportions; ergo, it'll be a perfect fit.

3. Stationary Recumbent Bicycle with Laptop Station:
As a writer, I sit in front of my computer for hours without excercising my legs. With this new bicycle, I could lie back, type for hours, and have toned leg muscles. I don't know why these machines aren't for sale at every big box store in America.

4. Rosie, The Jetson's Housekeeper:
Aside from all the trouble that kept plaguing the "futuristic" Jetson family, they had a lot of great stuff to enjoy. When my kids were little, I hired a maid service to help keep my house livably clean. I don't have any maids right now, so if we don't clean house, it's not clean. Rosie the robot housekeeper would sure come in handy.

His Arms Around Me

On my Seek God With Me blog, I've described what happened when my brother and my husband went Christmas shopping with me several years ago.

The story fits neatly with the scripture found in Proverbs 3:5-6. Go check it out and see one of the reasons I like it when God puts his arms around me.

How To Improve Heroes, part two

Real heroes belong in high quality novels. If your hero is drowning in a mediocre novel, save him by improving the novel.

Tip #2: Read Writing The Breakout Novel.

Donald Maass’s mission is, “to help every author elevate his own unique style of storytelling to its highest form.” Although he admits that there is no single formula for the breakout novel, he guides writers through breakout checklists at the end of chapters.

If an author is unique, true to his own voice, shows larger-than-life characters in vivid settings living a high-stakes story, and presents universal themes in powerful details, that author could very easily be a breakout novelist.

This book is intended for competent authors who want to take their writing on a steep climb to a higher plane. It’s for authors who want to continually write “deeply absorbing, always gripping, constantly surprising, and ultimately memorable” stories.

I’ve heard more than one agent ask for life-changing stories. What the great writing technique does is allow the story to reach the heart of the readers so it can change lives.

For more information about Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, get a copy for yourself.

Coming next week: Tip #3

Texas Legacy Christmas by DiAnn Mills

First, we met Morgan from 1884 in Leather and Lace. Then in Lanterns and Lace, there was grant in 1895. Then in 1898, in Lightning and Lace, we met Travis. Finally, it's 1911. This time, the hero is Zack, and the book is A Texas Legacy Christmas. If you read the Texas Legacy series, you'll meet the whole Andrews family and watch their children grow up and have kids of their own.

Zack Kahler, a newspaper man at the New York Times and new owner of the Kahlerville newspaper, plans to move back home to Texas to run his new business. Before returning home, he is the victim of a couple of six-year-old pickpockets who steal his heart.

Chloe Weaver, thin and trembling from hunger, finds work in a boardinghouse keeping the books and helping the cook, but God’s not through blessing her. When she sees Zack and the twins, she remembers how Zack treated her years ago when they were both Miss Scott’s students. He remembers her too. He likes how the little girl has grown up in all her beauty and likes how she responds to the twins.

Chloe wonders if Zack loves her. Situations beyond his control have made it necessary to keep his distance from her. But how can he keep his distance when there is competition for her heart?

DiAnn Mills ends the Texas Legacy Series with a Christmas miracle. I enjoyed seeing the whole family back together. The twins’ wide-eyed wonder of their new surroundings was an appealing view of the city kids’ visit to a ranch.

See my reviews of the rest of the delightful series:
Leather and Lace
Lanterns and Lace
Lightning and Lace