Teen Writers needed for Teen Devotional

Son-Rise Publications, Inc. has published Penned from the Heart for twenty-three years. This year we’re adding a new project: Teen Penned from the Heart.

I’m searching for Christian devotions that share what God is doing in your life. How have you seen Him work?

You can also write within our theme: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

Photographers and artists, please submit your work as well. Some of them will be included in Teen Penned from the Heart and one will be chosen for the cover.

This is a great way to become a published writer, artist, or photographer.

Guidelines follow: 

Submit your true, maximum 250 word, article sharing how God is working in your life or what He is teaching you. Insights, prayers, and anecdotes that proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ or build the body of Christ through encouragement, inspiration, or teaching are desired. In that word count include a title, plus scripture and/or a prayer.

When quoting scripture, please be accurate and indicate the version in this way: NIV, KJV, NASB, MSG (The Message), etc. Do not rely on your memory—please verify accuracy. Submit your devotion in Arial 10. Use Arial 9 bold with italics for scripture passages.

Photographers and Artists: your work is welcome. One picture will be chosen for the cover.

Teen Penned from the Heart is compiled/edited by Carol Moesta Hamilton. Submit, via email, to carolhamiltonjoy@gmail.com with “Teen Devotional” in the subject line and the devotion or picture in the body of your email. Include your name as you want it to appear in the published devotion, a brief bio, plus your email, phone number, and mailing address with each submission. Only one submission per email, please. Indicate if this is a simultaneous submission.

Son-Rise Publications, Inc. asks for one-time rights for the volume in which your work appears.  Previously published devotions, as well as original works, are accepted if you own the copyright. Reprint rights are given when supplied by the author.

Submissions are due by July 1, 2014.

Each writer, photographer, or artist of the pieces chosen for the book will receive a free copy of the devotional.

Please send this information on to teens who may be interested. I look forward to hearing from you!

For His glory.

Carol Hamilton




Prayers from the Deep

Do you feel like you’re drowning in a sea of to-dos, tangled in seaweed laundry, over-run with house work, yard work, paper work?

I understand. I’ve been there. Often. But there is hope.

Look at Jonah. Things were so bad for him that when he got into the belly of the big fish he praised God because it was an improvement. Jonah nearly drowned. Being in the whale kept him alive.

What surprises me most are Jonah’a words. He’s inside a slimy fish yet he’s praying to God and praising Him. In Jonah 2:9 he says, “ But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.” He’s inside a creature in the depths of the sea talking to God.

That’s the answer. Talk to God from your drowning place.

When our four children still lived at home and we farmed, raised sheep, cattle, chickens, and more I sometimes felt overwhelmed. My initial response, sadly, was to yell. Gradually I learned when I sensed the crushing pressure I needed to pray. My kids joke about it now, but they knew when I went into my room, closed the door and huddled in a ball on the floor on the far side of my bed, they should leave me alone. That was my belly-of-the-whale spot.

From there I cried out to God to help me, to give me strength and wisdom, to teach me to do what God wanted me to do, nothing more and nothing less, with joy.

I’m happy to say I made it through the child rearing stage. You can, too. Jesus mediates for us. Because of Him we can boldly go to God with all of our concerns and heartaches.

Jonah started out in chapter two telling God about sinking and nearly drowning. God already knew all of this, but it helped Jonah to articulate it. Then in verse seven Jonah says, “When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to You, into Your holy temple.”

How much better if we focus on praising God all through the day. My mom had a friend who once told her, “You should be praising God before your feet hit the floor in the morning.” I have tried to practice that, asking God to help me to remember Him throughout the day.

One way I sustain that is to play Christian music. I catch myself singing along and the song becomes a prayer. In I Thessalonians 5:17 Paul reminds us to, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

The more we focus on God, the less time we spend crying out from the depths, the more we rejoice in all we do.

After Jonah praised God and thanked Him, God had the fish spit Jonah onto dry land 2:10.

Jonah still had work to do and so do we. Go on your way rejoicing. Thank God you’re not in Shamu’s tummy.


I love birthdays. It is my day to celebrate, but I’m not the only one with this birthday.
My friend, Sally Harris, and I were born on the same day at Magee Hospital in Pittsburgh. Our mothers shared a room, being first time moms of daughters, laughter and lifelong friendship. Sally and I had birthday parties together as we grew up.
When Sally and her family moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico, Sally and I saved our pennies, put them together and bought an airline ticket for me to fly there. It took us over a year to save the money. I went for three weeks when we were fourteen. We had an amazing time riding horses, playing tennis, swimming and being creative. Sally is one of the friends who helped my imagination grow. She is artistic and fascinating. We wrote letters to each other through most of our childhood.
After that trip we saved again and pooled our money to fly her to Pittsburgh. I loved sharing my life with her.
I’m getting the urge to start saving my pennies again.

Happy Birthday, Sally! I’m so glad we’ve been friends our whole lives.

I also collect names of other people with a March 24th birthday. Happy Birthday to Larissa Houk, Chaz Dumbaugh, and Smitty Boros!

The Final Speech

This morning at National Speakers Association – Pittsburgh, speaker Dick Bruso challenged us to focus on our passion. He asked if we could only speak one more time for forty-five minutes to a million people, what would we say?
Many of the speakers in the crowd seemed to be reveling in an “Aha!” moment.
I wrote several statements. Tonight as I review them my brain wheels churn.
If I had one shot to address a huge crowd here is what I’d say.

Get over your mistakes and join the parade.
When God forgives us through the grace and mercy of our resurrected Jesus we can forgive ourselves, too. God says our sins are as far as the east is from the west.
Straighten your arms. Stick them out one to the right, one to the left, east and west. Can you possibly touch them? No. Never in this position. God spans farther and He doesn’t hold our sins against us once we are forgiven, so why do we beat ourselves up over past sins? Learn from them, share them with others if it will help them become more like Christ, but don’t let them cripple us.
God says He rejoices over us with gladness and singing. What a visual that gives me. I think of how CS Lewis described Aslan creating Narnia with songs that matched whatever he made. How much more amazing will it be to hear God singing with joy over us when we get to Heaven.
Don’t let the memory of your sins weigh you down and render you ineffective. I sin, you sin, we all sin. Ask God for forgiveness and get over it. When we ask for forgiveness it is given and we are clean, ready to serve God with joy. When we stumble and sin again, which we all will, ask for forgiveness again and get on with whatever it is God has assigned. Don’t dwell on the error, but on the task at hand.
Paul wrote, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”
When you belong to Christ He leads you victoriously so jump into the parade and march. God will breathe in the sweet aroma of your obedience and sing.
I love you, but God loves you most,

Scriptures used: Psalm 103:12, Zephaniah 3:17, II Corinthians 2:14
If you aren’t sure you’re going to Heaven and don’t have salvation through Jesus, seek Him. Feel free to call me. I’d love to talk to you about this. 724-368-3369

Lost and Found

Have your ever noticed how when you lose something and try to find it you discover the last thing you lost rather than the current item.
Example: Saturday morning I needed my blue dress shoes to wear to the National Speakers Association meeting. They weren’t on the floor of my closet where they belong. Instead of spending the time to search for them, I changed from my blue skirt to my black one, got my black heels from their correct location and went to the meeting.
Tonight I needed the entries to a jr. high writing contest that I had judged so I can mail them tomorrow. I couldn’t find them on my desk. The last time I remembered having them was at the beauty salon. Was the packet in the car? No, but my blue dress shoes peaked out from a nook in the back of the Saturn.
I looked harder, wiggling to reach under the seat and found my lost address book. Two great finds, but not the one currently on my mind.
Often I give up at this point, happy to have found what I needed days ago. But this time I persisted. I checked my desk again, and discovered the contest entries hidden under the sweater I need to return. Now if I could find the receipt…
I’m exposing myself as one who loses things, but I also find things.
There is a point to all of this, but I lost it along the way. Maybe I’ll find it when I lose something else.

St Patrick’s Day

Top o’ the Morning to ye!
Happy St. Partick’s Day!

I arrived at an early morning meeting. The sun peeked over the horizon, birds chorused, but best of all, a balmy breeze blew. I turned my face into the wind and reveled in it.
I have enough Irish in me to prompt occasional jigs and a bucket of blarney. However, I disagree with part of the Irish blessing. Where it says, “May the wind be always at your back,” I assume so it can nudge you along on life’s journey, I prefer the wind in my face. I love how it blows my hair back and fills my nose with fresh air. I enjoy the caresses of the moving air.
Wishing you the sweetness of Spring,

The Launch

Last August when my youngest of four left for college I thought my simmering writing career would finally boil. Instead of imagining fascinating new plots my mind lingered on the memory children I saw everywhere. They splashed down a slip-n-slide in the front yard, rode sheep in the barn, shuffled over the carpet in their footie pjs trying to shock each other. Always there is the echo of their laughter. Gratitude overwhelms me with a tinge of sadness.
In an old movie, “The Other Side of the Mountain,” Richard leaves his love promising to return to marry her saying, “What a privilege it is to love someone so much it hurts this badly to say goodbye.” He then dies in an airplane crash, but she remembers his words and finds comfort in them. My children haven’t died, but life as I knew it has changed forever.
My husband urged me to join Toastmasters International. That forced me to create speeches and helped my mind let some steam escape.
Last fall I also joined National Speakers Association (NSA), attended a writers retreat and the Pittsburgh Women Etcetera! Seminar. Networking from those events has lead to opportunities. I competed in the final round in Toastmasters’ Table Topics and Humor. Plus I taught a class at Point Park University through NSA. Characters converse in my mind again. I’m so excited my stomach churns. The lid on my simmering career dances.