"For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has,
not according to what he does not have" (2 Cor. 8:12 NIV).

This is the page (on other sites) where most writers list their degrees and formal education, qualifying them to write their books. And this is also the page where I used to struggle with feelings of inferiority. You see, I do not have a degree, even though I've taken many courses from several colleges. And neither do I have a lot of formal training in speaking, either, even though I was a member and officer of Toastmasters for a short while. But what I do have is a big God, who has been rather persistent, and at the same time patient with me. He has finally convinced me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).

So if you think you aren't qualified to write a book, or that your speech is not eloquent enough to stand before others to deliver a message, remember it is God who gives the increase. God stands in the gap for us. He fills our weaknesses with His strength, and He is constantly looking for willing servants.

"Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you…"
Acts 18:9-10.

If God lays it on your heart to pursue a college education, then by all means go for it. But I like what Theodore Roosevelt once said, "A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education." For when our days on this earth are over, the educational degrees and professional titles won't much matter. What will matter is this: Did we know Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior? And, what did we do with that knowledge?

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."
(Proverbs 3: 5-6 NKJV).

My Writing Background

In the early 1990's I felt God calling me to write. I assumed writing for children would be easy, so I chose that route. I quickly realized, however, that there was much to learn, and so I enrolled in the Institute of Children's Literature home study courses. These courses taught me how to craft stories and books, and how to submit to publishers.

As my children got older my interest in writing children's books lessened, but my desire to be a writer increased. After attending my first writer's conference I was advised to write what I liked to read. I loved reading short inspirational stories with God at the center, and it seemed God was constantly revealing Himself to me in everyday life situations. Thus, my inspirational writing career was born.

I have been given a gift from God; a gift of expression in the form of creative, inspirational writing. And you, too, have been given a gift to serve God. If you don't know what your gift is, I encourage you to seek the Lord and find out. True joy and contentment come from knowing you are using your gifts and talents to serve others, thereby serving Him.

Credits, Upcoming Releases, and Accomplishments

My credits include my first book, God's Gentle Nudges, and several articles featured in such publications as: Reader's Digest, War Cry, Woman's World, CBN.com, The Upper Room, Alive Now!, Evangel, The Lutheran Digest, and The Vision, among others. I have also contributed to the following compilation book series: Chicken Soup for the Soul, Cup of Comfort, and God Allows U-Turns.

My recent releases include: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings, A Cup of Comfort: Book of Christmas Prayer, A Cup of Comfort Women of the Bible Devotional: Daily Reflections Inspired by Scripture's Most Beloved Heroines, and A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters: Daily Reminders of God's Love and Grace.

I have had two stories receive Honorable Mentions in the Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competitions, both for the inspirational category. And, as part of the faculty of the American Christian Writers Columbus Conference, I have added another title to my resume, that of instructor.

My wonderful agent from Hartline Literary Agency is currently marketing my next book proposals. Be sure to sign up on my blog for updates.

Closing Thoughts

image: connie cameron head shotI couldn't do any of this without the love, support, and encouragement from Chuck, my husband of 30 years. Together he and I have two adult children, Chase (Elizabeth) and Chelsea (Matt). In 2008 Chase and Eliz blessed our lives with precious little Elaina Sophia, and in 2011, sweet Leah Persephone came into the world. My stepdaughter Lori, has given us two more wonderful grandchildren, Nathan and Amber. And my deeply missed stepson, Conan, passed away in 1994 and is awaiting our reunion.

When I finally stopped arguing with God over becoming a speaker for Him, I had one request after another come pouring in. And just when I thought my plate had gotten rather full and that I was as far out of my comfort zone as I could handle, God led me to a jail and prison ministry. I am both humbled and privileged to be allowed into the hearts of these hurting women. As you can imagine, I have many God stories to share about what they've taught me, and most are yet to be written…

But one story that has been written and is a personal favorite of mine, is from my book, God's Gentle Nudges. You'll understand my love for irises. Enjoy.

A Tradition of Irises
By Connie Sturm Cameron

"Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
Hebrews 13:5

For fourteen years I had looked forward to the irises blooming at the end of our driveway. It was a sign to me that winter was officially over. Flanking both ends of the driveway and inter-mixed in solid yellow and purple, they were always a welcome sight.

But also each spring I threatened to dig them up in the fall and separate their colors, thinking they would look better grouped by color. I went so far as to mark the stalks of all the yellow flowers.

The following fall, when it came time to perform the "operation," I grabbed the shovel from the garage, set it in the wheelbarrow, pulled on my gloves and, determined to get the job done, headed down the driveway.

"Mom, don't separate them – they're tradition," my son Chase exclaimed as I swerved the wheelbarrow to miss his bike.


"Yeah," six-year-old Chelsea added, "I like waiting for the bus and smelling the grape and lemon."

"Grape and lemon?"

Shaking my head and trying to make sense of this unexpected outburst, I begrudgingly turned the wheelbarrow around, deciding I could live with the mixed colors after all.

A few years later we sold that home and moved to an old farmhouse in the country. I intended to dig up some of those "traditional" bulbs before moving, but it never got scratched off my "to do" list. There was such a frenzy of last-minute details to tend to; there simply wasn't time for flowers.

The first spring at our old homestead followed a long, hard winter – a winter of forcing myself to adjust to my "new" surroundings. Not only was the farmhouse smaller than our previous home, it had fewer amenities, including older appliances. As the winter dragged on, instead of accepting my surroundings, I became even more homesick.

One day in late May, I found myself gazing out the back kitchen window, mesmerized by the sun glistening off our acre-wide pond. Located just yards from the back deck, it lured me outside.

I had no sooner taken two steps off the deck when I suddenly remembered the irises. I clamped my eyes shut and swallowed hard.

This was a mistake to come outside – there are no irises to greet me.

For some unknown reason, though, my feet didn't want to move. With my eyes still shut, I inhaled deeply. The air was poignantly fresh and sweet, and I was so homesick for our other house and those irises, that I could even smell a hint of lemon in the air.

When I opened my eyes, the glare off the pond was blindingly bright. I had to squint and keep my head lowered as I strolled downhill toward the dock, deeply inhaling that wonderful aroma. Basking in both the sunshine and the peace that immediately engulfed me, I finally looked up.

My eyes were instantly drawn to the edge of the pond and the green spiked leaves that I had watched grow all spring from the kitchen window. There was something yellow nestled on top of many of them.

Strolling closer to the pond for a better look, I stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn't believe what I saw! I bent over for a closer look.

Dozens of miniature, wild, yellow irises flanked the edge of the pond, and . . . they even smelled faintly of lemons!

Elated, I wanted to share this new discovery with someone, but no one was home. Too excited to go back inside, I joyfully picked a few of the flowers and started for our mailbox, almost one-half mile down our country lane.

After taking out the mail, I turned toward home.

Hmmm, what's that?

Across from the mailbox on the other side of our driveway, was a large, gnarly oak tree. At the base of the trunk and nestled in the weeds was something purple.


I strolled the few steps to where they were . . . and froze.

Standing transfixed, I watched as wild purple irises softly swayed in the breeze, almost as if they were waving God's promise, "I will never leave you or forsake you."

The End

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