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READ: Review, Because You Care by Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk

“How is he?” I find myself asking when I see my friend. Her husband suffers from dementia, and although both are aging, she has become the gentle caregiver for her often-childlike spouse. “Lord, give her the strength to meet his needs today.” I pray these words often for my mother, now my father’s caregiver. Diabetes and three cancer diagnoses have changed him from an active, robust man to one whose narrow world revolves around doctor’s appointments and treatments. When I opened Because You Care: Spiritual Encouragement for Caregivers by Cecil Murphey and Twila Belk (Harvest House, 2012), I expected to find a gentle, peaceful read—and I did. Beautiful photographs add to the book’s overall aura of calm. But I also found something unexpected: conviction. As Cec, Twila, and selected others shared thoughts about their own caregiving experiences, I reflected on the growing number of caregivers I know. The journeys described in this brief (48-page) volume challenged me to become more sensitive not only to those who require long-term care, but to the heart-breaking responsibilities of their caregivers. How much should I do for him? How will she know I truly care? What will the future hold? The authors’ honest reflections on these and other questions provide empathy and inspiration to caregivers and those who love them. The prayers, summary statements, and practical suggestions presented in a brief, easy-to-manage format make this book a perfect companion for caregivers’ busy lives.   Thank you, Cec and Twila, for this thoughtful, transparent work. Next time I see a caregiver, I’ll ask, “How are you?” before I ask about anyone else. I’ll focus my prayers as much on the needs of the caregiver as on the one who receives care. And I hope to display more sensitivity to the delicate balance of the caregiving life. I plan to give a copy of Because You Care to my mother, but I’ll donate my review copy to someone who leaves a comment below. Tell us a bit about yourself as a caregiver or another caregiver you know. I’ll choose one reader at random to receive my review copy which you may share with your favorite caregiver. US addresses only, please, and include your email address or link to it in your comment.  Find a local Christian bookstore Find this book on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, or at Christian Book Distributors (FTC Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not required to post a review or a positive...

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WRITE: Florida Christian Writers Conference

Dear Writer WannaBe, I know you’re out there. And today, I’m thinking of you. You’ve slogged it out alone for so long. You sit at your computer and dream of creating a masterpiece (okay, several). And you know God wants to use your words. Maybe you’ve written a novel or a chunk of a nonfiction book. Perhaps poetry bubbles from your pen like foam off an overfilled glass of Coke. Are you working on a screenplay? Or do you prefer to tackle shorter pieces like devotionals, greeting cards, or Bible studies instead? But, yes, my friend, you have a problem. You don’t know how to get your work out there, do you? These days, you hear so much about self-publishing. What’s up with that? And then there’s the whole “agent” thing. Who needs one, and why?  I understand. You’d love to meet some editors in person, to find out firsthand what they need and want. You know you should keep improving your craft, but when will you find the time, and where will you find a teacher? Could you take the chance to have a professional evaluate your writing and give you some tips to make it shine?  Of course it sounds scary—but imagine the possibilities. After all, Mom’s opinion can only take you so far.  You’re right. Those are some deep needs and extreme expectations. But did you know, my WannaBe friend, that you can find hope, help, and encouragement at a writers’ conference? Please take time to consider attending the 25th annual Florida Christian Writers Conference (FCWC), March 1-4, 2012. Allow me to share some reasons this conference could meet your needs (and a few of your wants as well): Superb Speakers: Best-selling author and collaborator Cec Murphey (Gifted Hands, 90 Minutes in Heaven) will keynote this year’s conference.  Terrific Teachers: The FCWC offers continuing seminars (including fiction and nonfiction mentoring clinics) as well as individual workshops, all taught by industry professionals. These people know their stuff and share it, too.  Amazing Appointments: Dedicated time with your favorite author, editor, or agent to discuss you, your work, or the sad state of the economy (Okay, I was kidding about the last part—but it’s your fifteen minutes). Fantastic Friendships: You’ll love spending time with other WannaBes. You speak the same language, so make sure you stop talking long enough to improve your writing. Stellar Setting: Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg provides a tranquil, beautiful setting. And the meals rival Rachael Ray’s (or your mom’s). Don’t have the money? Let’s talk about that. If you or your child wanted to play the piano, wouldn’t you do your best to find the funds for lessons? And then there’s your pet. When Scruffy needs something, you make sure she has it. Right? You invest...

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