Research: The Inspired Prompt Way

Research. We’ve spent the month of March dissecting this topic from all angles. From how to start, to research on the road, and current events research, a way to gather information should be coming clear.

I’ve asked the Crew to share their go-to source when it comes to research. Here’s what they said:

Harriet Michael: As a Christian nonfiction writer who writes a lot of Biblical pieces—devotions and essays to a Biblical theme, my go-to resource is Bible Gateway where I can look up passages, do word searches, find commentaries, and find passages in all translations. Here is their link: https://www.biblegateway.com/

Jennifer Hallmark: Sometimes when I write, I just can’t think of the right word so I use an online thesaurus. Even if I don’t find what I need, it often gets my creativity flowing so I can move forward in my writing. Their link is http://www.thesaurus.com/

Kristy Horine: I find the Blue Letter Bible www.blueletterbible.org to be a great resource due to its interlinear concordance, cross references, language explanations, and access to commentaries. It has an app that is free that can be downloaded to your phone.  In addition, www.biblestudytools.com is helpful in the commentary area.

Another source is www.thoughtco.com. This is not a Christian-based resource, but it sure is fun for those strange and unusual questions like if brain cells regenerate, or the difference between racism and prejudice. It is based on the idea that we should be lifelong learners and seeks to teach just that. Plus, it has a really neat daily email you can sign up for. And, for numbers: www.barna.com and www.pewresearch.org

Betty Thomason Owens: I attended a class on researching at the Mid South Conference. The instructor gave us the Library of Congress website. It’s huge. You can find articles, photos, and lots of other interesting studies and stories and books. https://www.loc.gov/  I also love History.com  https://www.history.com/ and the Smithsonian.com https://www.smithsonianmag.com/.

Gail Johnson: I use the Bible, Webster’s dictionary, and the Strong’s Concordance. Also Bible Gateway and the online versions of the dictionary and thesaurus.

Bonita McCoy: I love  Biblehub.com because it gives you the verse in several translations. I use it for my Beautiful Pieces of Grace blog. Also the good old library for articles for the Inspired Prompt site and my Courageous Writers blog.

Fay Lamb: My research varies on what the subject happens to be. If it is medical, I will look up medical research on various sites, but I also look for journals of people who have undergone medical procedures. I also use slang dictionaries for slang for certain times. I even have a surfers’ slang dictionary.

Tammy Trail:  I tend to look for historical societies. There is a blog I like to catch up with too, Colonial Quills. Lots of historical information there for me. I use the Colonial Williamsburg website also. For writing related information, I love Seekerville.

Carlton Hughes:  Like others, my research varies depending on the subject. I’m mostly writing devotionals now, so usually I’m searching for a specific scripture on Bible Gateway. Blogs like Novel Rocket are good for general advice on fiction writing.

Shirley Crowder:  I use Blue Letter Bible — lots of commentaries, words studies, etc. https://www.blueletterbible.org/

Karen Jurgens: I use Google for whatever I need to know when I’m writing about Paris and other parts of the world. I study maps of the city, and I use reference books I’ve purchased while visiting. For example, I bought lots of historical books and maps of Cayman Island when I vacationed there a couple years ago. I always write about settings I know personally or have visited.

Cammi Woodall: Started in September of 1998, Google is the world’s largest search engine. You know how I know that? I googled it! When you can use your search engine name as a verb, you know you are doing something right. I love other sites like AskJeeves.com or Yahoo.com, but I always come back to Google. In one research session, l learned that the world’s oldest church is the Dura-Europos house church in Syria, arsenic poison will still show up in your fingernails 6 to 12 months after ingestion, and a ten-gallon hat really only holds three-quarters of a gallon. Who knew? Google did! And now I do, too.

Thank you, Inspired Prompt Crew! As you can see, there are research sites galore for the fiction and non-fiction writer. Do you have a go-to site that’s not listed above? In lieu of a writing prompt, we’re asking you to share that in the comments below…

Click to tweet: The Inspired Prompt Crew shares their go-to source when it comes to research for writers. #research #Google

Journaling: A Good Practice – Part 2

bible.jpgIn Part 1, we looked at the types of things to include in your journal. Today, I want to share my biblical reasons for journaling.

The Bible is filled with passages telling us to recall or remember who God is, two of these are: This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope (Lamentations 3:21 ESV) and Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth. (1 Chronicles 16:11-12 ESV).

In the Old Testament, people built altars to signify and remind them of God’s work in their lives or the lives of His people. In addition to the Bible, my journal serves as a reminder of God’s work in my life and the lives of my family and friends. Numerous times throughout the year, and before stepping into a major new beginning, it is my practice to read through my journal entries.

These entries remind me of God’s faithfulness, mercy, grace, and love that has enabled me to walk through every situation I encountered.

Page after page of entries are filled with the names of new and long-time friends who have blessed my life in so many ways. Many of the entries mark the passing of a dear loved one from this life to everlasting life with the Lord. Sadly, other entries mark the passing of a dear loved one whom I am not certain knew the Lord as his or her Savior. Those entries always serve as an impetus to be more faithful in sharing the Gospel with people. While reading these entries is sobering in so many ways, they always remind and encourage me of how the Lord answered my prayers and how He provided for my every need—often before I even knew I had the need!

From time-to-time, I come across tear-stained pages with words that express my sadness, loneliness, hurt, brokenness, or depression. These entries also express the cries of my heart for the Lord to give me a passion to know Him, a heart to serve Him, and eyes of love to view people.

By far, the most difficult entries for me to read are those that remind me of my grievous sins of omission and commission. They reveal my selfishness, anger, failure, greed, and so many other sins. Yet, most of them have been marked with references to later entries that describe how the Lord forgave and restored me. There are, however, some entries with no such reference, which means I must stop to repent and ask the Lord to forgive me for that sin.

Each year’s journal is a continuation of the story of God’s redemption of and faithfulness to His people and to me.

God is not faithful to us because of anything we do or have done, but because of His great mercy and love for us (Ephesians 2:4).

Reading through these entries also brings to mind the parable about the faithful servant and the evil servant in Luke 12 (NKJV). This parable ends with verse 48, to whom much is given, from him much will be required. This verse reminds us that God will hold us accountable to use the gifts, talents, abilities, experiences, knowledge, and understanding He has given us.

Some entries remind me of ideas or illustrations for teaching, counseling, or writing. Other entries remind me of people I need to check on or for whom I need to continue praying.

Thankfully, you and I do not have to depend upon ourselves and our own strength to accomplish the things God sets before us, because as Christ-followers we can rely absolutely upon Him to equip and enable us to serve.

Writing Prompt: Take time to prayerfully consider the ministry opportunities, which include writing, the Lord has placed in your life, and how you can use your God-given gifts, talents, abilities, experiences, knowledge, and understanding to serve Him.

Click to Tweet: Each year’s journal is a continuation of the story of God’s redemption of and faithfulness to His people and to me. #WritingPrompts #journaling

Journaling: A Good Practice – Part 1

journaling.jpgJournals take a myriad of forms these days. For some, their social media posts are their journals. Some prefer handwriting their journal entries, others prefer to type them. I have an elderly friend who can no longer see well enough to write or type, so her grandson set her up to make voice recorded journal entries.

Journaling is a must for those who aspire to be writers—recreationally or professionally.

My dad, a Navy Corpsman attached to the 3rd Marine Division on Iwo Jima and Guam during WWII, kept a journal of names, injuries, scene descriptions, sketches of the islands, and stories that he used as a basis for a book he wrote over 40 years later.

I have kept a journal since my late teens and strongly encourage those I know to journal, particularly when they are in the midst of major changes and/or struggles. We always think we will remember the details, but we don’t. Most of the devotionals and blogs I have written are based on my journal entries.

I was encouraging one of my counselees to journal, she replied, “Journaling isn’t for me! I don’t have the patience, time, or inclination to learn how to do something new!”

I responded,

“Make your own rules! Your unique personality will shine brightly through entries that reflect the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical aspects of your life.”

Writing Prompt: I was at the grocery story and over heard a lady say …

Following are some of the things I shared with my young friend about my current journaling practices.

Recording the following in my journal during my daily morning quiet time:

  • Prayers confessing my sin with notations of Scripture referencing an aspect of God’s character.
  • My feelings: anxiety, fear, sadness, excitement, happiness, depression, ambivalence.
  • At least three things for which I am thankful—these often surface while reading past entries that remind me of God’s mercy, grace, faithfulness, and love that has enabled me to walk through every situation.
  • Scripture I read in my quiet time. Any words or phrases that stand out to me and related passages that come to mind. Ideas for further study, teaching, counseling, and writing.
  • Prayer requests—my own and for others. Leave a little space to record how and when the request is answered.
  • Spiritual, emotional, mental and physical areas in which I need to improve.

Throughout the day as thoughts and ideas come to mind, I may record some of the following:

  • All sorts of things that happen.
  • I try to record related Scriptures. (Writers, these are good fodder for devotionals, articles, and even books!)
  • Ideas for study, teaching, and writing.
  • Add to my “want to read” list.
  • Names of people and ways to encourage them.
  • Decision-making charts.
  • Ministry evaluation.
  • New people I meet and pertinent facts about them.
  • Goals, plans, dreams.
  • Brain download of random thoughts, ideas from the day.

Before I go to bed, I pull all the things I have written, emailed and texted to myself into my journal. And, I usually think of things I need to add!

Don’t get bogged down with how you journal or what you put in your journal—just start journaling!

Don’t miss Pt. 2! Find it here tomorrow morning.

Click to Tweet: Make your own rules! Your unique personality will shine brightly through entries that reflect the spiritual, emotional, mental, and phsycial aspects of your life. –Shirley Crowder on Journaling: A Good Practice (Part 1) #InspiredPrompt #journaling

3 Questions Wednesday with Shirley Crowder

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday.

I first met Shirley Crowder at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. We usually share a book table and have a great time. She writes devotionals and non-fiction and is a beautiful, delightful lady.

So, let’s see how she answers our 3 Questions–

Question: Shirley, what inspires you?

Shirley:  Music inspires me. The combination of the melody and harmonies, in concert with the dynamics, help give depth, color, and richness to the words. Through music I can express my awe, love, and gratitude to the Sovereign God of the Universe, my Savior. Music also allows me to admit my dependence upon God, confess and repent of my sin, ask Him for strength, thank Him for my salvation, and praise Him for Who He is. Then, I am able to go forth into the world and make disciple-makers as I write, teach, counsel, and minister to others.

What a wonderful answer!

Next question–You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Shirley: It would definitely have to be a shade of purple named Passion. It would represent that I am a daughter of the King of kings and set-apart by God to do ministry. It would also have an element of unpredictability and fun. If you looked at something in this shade, you would wonder what is coming next!

Oh, I know you love purple! Lovers of purple are said to be witty and sensitive. It’s definitely your color.

Final Question–As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Shirley: I always wanted to be a mom and have a dozen children. Six biological and six adopted. Instead of twelve, the Lord has given me more children than I can count. OK, before those who do not know me faint, let me explain. The Lord has given me spiritual children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren who are now serving the Lord in The States and in about fifty countries throughout the world.

I love that answer. God places us in families, and you are many times blessed.

Thanks, Shirley, for visiting 3 Questions Wednesday, and giving our readers the chance to get to know you better. Readers, Shirley will be a contributor to the blog in 2018, so look for more from her. You can also find her at Through the Lens of Scripture.

Click to tweet: Shirley Crowder is a missionary kid who was born in Nigeria, West Africa. How will she answer our #3Questions? #InspiredPrompt

Shirley Crowder is a missionary kid (MK) who was born in Nigeria, West Africa. She has a passion for disciple-making and loves to share about her spiritual children who are scattered across the world serving the Lord. She is a biblical counselor; a regular guest on “Think on These Things,” a Birmingham Alabama radio/TV program for women; and a freelance writer. Shirley is commissioned by, and serves on the national Advisory Committee for, The Addiction Connection. She authored “Study Guide on Prayer—A Companion to Prayer: It’s Not About You”; co-authored a seasonal devotional book “Glimpses of the Savior”; co-authored “Hope for New Beginnings” with Dr. Howard Eyrich; co-authored the chapter, “Paul and Women in Ministry” in the book “Paul the Counselor” published by Focus Publishing; and has several articles which have appeared in “The Gadsden Times” Faith section’s Paper Pulpit.


Glimpses of Prayer – a devotional

Shirley Crowder and Writing Prompts contributor, Harriet Michael have co-authored another devotional! Here are the details:

God is looking for prayer warriors. • Start each day meditating on prayers in the Bible. • Strengthen your relationship with God through prayer. We have two primary means of communicating with God—the Bible and prayer. But what is prayer, really? This book of 50 devotions will help you look at many facets of prayer. Each devotion is centered around prayer and focuses on verses from the Old Testament and the New Testament that speak about prayer. We pray the Holy Spirit would work through these devotions to help you gain a better understanding of prayer and to ignite or deepen your passion to know Him better, resulting in you experiencing a richer more powerful prayer life.


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