Joy in 2016

By Jennifer Hallmark

joy quoteI’m moving slowly back and forth in the old timey rocker/glider in Mom’s living room. It’s December 30th and
I’m working on my January blog post while I’m here. My stepdad’s health has been declining so I sit with him while Mom goes to the doctor and shops. Thoughts about how my year is ending, similar to how it began, circles in my mind. Without going into detail, the first two weeks of January were bewildering. My word of focus for 2015 was grace, but to me, unexpected or unforeseen would have been more appropriate. In reality, I needed an abundance of grace to see me through last year. I more than understood why Matthew 6:34 is in the Bible.

‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’ NKJV

In 2015, all my worries were for naught. What I worried about didn’t come to pass, but things I never could have imagined did. So I’ve tried to process 2015 the best I can and look forward to 2016.sylvester-1097596_1920

Really.

I mean, Alabama just won the semi-final college football game and will go to the Championship. And even though I ended the year with bronchitis, the holidays are over and I’m entering a writing season. My 2016 focus is set (seek God) and I’m ready.

Or I was until January 2nd.

The ambulance came for my stepdad who had double pneumonia. The back and forth trips from ICU to the waiting room to home and back to ICU began. By the time you read this, I hope he will have made it into a regular hospital room, but he won’t be home yet.

So what do you do when plans continually go awry? Am I the only one?

No. I passed too many people in the elevator, in the hallways, and in the hospital cafeteria to feel too sorry for myself. People whose lives have been disrupted by… well …life.

Should I just chunk 2016 and go to the pity party that waits just around the corner? Or keep writing, helping my family, cleaning house, shopping for groceries–all the things that make life what it is?

‘Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.’ Hebrews 10:23 NLT

BibleWhat is God’s promise? That Jesus shed his blood for us, took our punishment, and opened a new way. The Bible is full of so many promises. We are loved, accepted in the Beloved, a royal priesthood, set apart, and never alone, to name a few.

I love to remember the promises in the quiet, productive times, but I need to remember them in the chaotic times when the ground is shaking, and I have trouble standing.

I’ll step boldly on into this unsteady month of January, writing snatches of work here and there. Cleaning when I can. Resting when able. And I’ll step with joy, knowing God hasn’t left his throne and I’m always cherished and loved.

Today I choose JOY.

Writing Prompt: Let’s take the letters that make up the word JOY. Write a short story which includes one word that begins with a J, one that begins with an O, and one that begins with a Y.  Enter it in the comments for a double entry in our bi-yearly contest.

A New Year/A New Beginning

by Betty Thomason Owens

sylvester-1097596_1920Happy New Year!

Last night, as the clocks rolled past midnight into a fresh, new day, the numbers on our calendars also changed. Welcome to the first day of a brand new year–a fresh, clean slate–abounding with possibilities! Do you have a New Year’s resolution to fulfill? A date with a treadmill? Are you starting a juice fast, or the twenty-one-day spending fast? Looking for that svelte figure you lost? Aiming to add cash to the savings account? I hope you’re successful in everything you set out to do this year.

It is my privilege to greet you on behalf of the entire Crew at Writing Prompts. We have a special year planned with some exciting topics. As I glanced over the calendar Jennifer has worked so hard to complete, ideas popped into my writerly mind. I jotted them down, so I wouldn’t forget. Will I remember where I wrote them down? Well, considering the number of things I’ve had to go on the hunt for these past few days, possibly not. That pink sticky note will be covered up by more pink sticky notes.

What awaits us in 2016? The news media strives to paint a dark picture. But here on the Writing Prompts blog, we’re looking to focus your thoughts on fun and intriguing topics to spark new writing ideas. New beginnings. We’ll prompt you with interesting thoughts, posts, and photos. For instance, are you aware of the vast array of genres and subgenres in literature? Which genres do you prefer in your reading and/or writing? That’s February’s topic.

The Pacific Coast

What is your favorite season? Our writers will share theirs in March. In April, we’ll shower you with our favorite historical time periods. We’ll go to Australia in May, come back home to weddings in June, and remember a favorite vacation in July. And just in time for conference season (August), we’ll ferret out everything you want to know about writing conferences.

Pack your suitcases and get your passport up-to-date. Let’s go exploring! World Travel is September’s quest. We’ll seek out Natural Wonders in October, explore Art in November then finish out the year with Christmas Around the World.

A whirlwind tour awaits you this year on the Writing Prompts blog. Month after month of interesting subjects! And don’t forget about Wednesday’s 3 Questions. We’re serving up three fresh questions, and some exciting names on the list of interviewees. If you’re a writer with a book releasing in 2016, please feel free to contact us for a spot on our 3 Questions Wednesday calendar. Note: We encourage the 3 Questions authors to include a book giveaway, if possible.

We also do more in-depth interviews on Saturdays throughout the year. As well as prompting you with thoughts and ideas, we’re here to help you market your new release and introduce our readers to some fresh, new talent.

And who will bring you all these wonderful blog posts throughout the year? Just in case you missed our Roundup post in December, you can read it here. Or, simply click on the “CREW” tab above for additional information about each of our writers.

Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! Yes, it’s in our title–we finish most of our posts with a writing prompt and encourage you to finish it and submit your efforts as a comment. In the past, we’ve offered bimonthly gift cards to our commenters, giving extra entries for those who complete a prompt. In 2016, we’re suspending the bimonthly gift cards and offering more valuable gifts twice a year. In June, we celebrate our blog’s anniversary (we’re calling it blogaversary). If you answer a prompt on the blog during the first half of the year, you will be eligible to win the blogaversary prize (we’re still planning that prize!). The more prompts you answer, the more entries you’ll get. Don’t miss the announcement of our grand prize winners in the Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway — TBA later tonight! ⇒see sidebar meme

My prayer for you in 2016 is this:  May you write inspired, reaching the hearts of many hurting souls through your fiction and nonfiction. May the rewards of your work be lasting treasures in heaven. And may God crown your year with His bounty…(Psalm 65:11). Not a writer? Most of that prayer is relevant to you as well.

Writing Prompt: Write an interesting caption for this photograph. Submit via comments.

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betty owensBetty Thomason Owens writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. To find out more about her books, her writing, and other interests, click here. Thanks for visiting the Writing Prompts blog!