St. Patrick’s Day By Jean Blewett

There’s an Isle, a green Isle, set in the sea,
     Here’s to the Saint that blessed it!
And here’s to the billows wild and free
     That for centuries have caressed it!
Here’s to the day when the men that roam
     Send longing eyes o’er the water!
Here’s to the land that still spells home
     To each loyal son and daughter!
Here’s to old Ireland—fair, I ween,
     With the blue skies stretched above her!
Here’s to her shamrock warm and green,
     And here’s to the hearts that love her!
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The Daily Routines of Famous Writers Part 2 By James Clear

How many people die with their best work still inside them?

We often assume that great things are done by those who were blessed with natural talent, genius, and skill. But how many great things could have been done by people who never fully realized their potential? I think many of us, myself included, are capable of much more than we typically produce — our best work is often still hiding inside of us.

How can you pull that potential out of yourself and share it with the world?

Perhaps the best way to develop better daily routines. When you look at the top performers in any field, you see something that goes much deeper than intelligence or skill. They possess an incredible willingness to do the work that needs to be done. They are masters of their daily routines.

As an example of what separates successful people from the rest of the pack, take a look at some of the daily routines of famous writers from past and present.

Before we get started, though, I wanted to let you know I researched and compiled science-backed ways to stick to good habits and stop procrastinating. Want to check out my insights? Download my free PDF guide “Transform Your Habits” here.

At the end of the article, I broke down some common themes that you can apply to your daily routines — regardless of your goals. To skip straight to those suggestions, click here.

Henry Miller: “When you can’t create you can work.”

In 1932, the famous writer and painter, Henry Miller, created a work schedule that listed his “Commandments” for him to follow as part of his daily routine. This list was published in the book, Henry Miller on Writing (Kindle).

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

Kurt Vonnegut: “I do pushups and sit ups all the time.”

In 1965, Vonnegut wrote a letter to his wife Jane about his daily writing habits, which was published in the book: Kurt Vonnegut: Letters (Kindle).

I awake at 5:30, work until 8:00, eat breakfast at home, work until 10:00, walk a few blocks into town, do errands, go to the nearby municipal swimming pool, which I have all to myself, and swim for half an hour, return home at 11:45, read the mail, eat lunch at noon. In the afternoon I do schoolwork, either teach of prepare. When I get home from school at about 5:30, I numb my twanging intellect with several belts of Scotch and water ($5.00/fifth at the State Liquor store, the only liquor store in town. There are loads of bars, though.), cook supper, read and listen to jazz (lots of good music on the radio here), slip off to sleep at ten. I do pushups and sit ups all the time, and feel as though I am getting lean and sinewy, but maybe not.

Jodi Picoult: “You can’t edit a blank page.”

The last seven books Jodi Picoult has written have all hit number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list. In an interview with Noah Charney, she talks about her approach to writing and creating…

I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it — when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.

Maya Angelou: “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

In a 2013 interview with The Daily Beast, the American author and poet discussed her writing career and her daily work habits…

I keep a hotel room in my hometown and pay for it by the month.

I go around 6:30 in the morning. I have a bedroom, with a bed, a table, and a bath. I have Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, and the Bible. Usually a deck of cards and some crossword puzzles. Something to occupy my little mind. I think my grandmother taught me that. She didn’t mean to, but she used to talk about her “little mind.” So when I was young, from the time I was about 3 until 13, I decided that there was a Big Mind and a Little Mind. And the Big Mind would allow you to consider deep thoughts, but the Little Mind would occupy you, so you could not be distracted. It would work crossword puzzles or play Solitaire, while the Big Mind would delve deep into the subjects I wanted to write about.

I have all the paintings and any decoration taken out of the room. I ask the management and housekeeping not to enter the room, just in case I’ve thrown a piece of paper on the floor, I don’t want it discarded. About every two months I get a note slipped under the door: “Dear Ms. Angelou, please let us change the linen. We think it may be moldy!”

But I’ve never slept there, I’m usually out of there by 2. And then I go home and I read what I’ve written that morning, and I try to edit then. Clean it up.

Easy reading is damn hard writing. But if it’s right, it’s easy. It’s the other way round, too. If it’s slovenly written, then it’s hard to read. It doesn’t give the reader what the careful writer can give the reader.

Barbara Kingsolver: “I have to write hundreds of pages before I get to page one.”

The Pulitzer Prize nominee has written over a dozen books, the last nine of which have all made the New York Times bestseller list. During a 2012 interview, she talked about her daily routine as a writer and a mother…

I tend to wake up very early. Too early. Four o’clock is standard. My morning begins with trying not to get up before the sun rises. But when I do, it’s because my head is too full of words, and I just need to get to my desk and start dumping them into a file. I always wake with sentences pouring into my head. So getting to my desk every day feels like a long emergency. It’s a funny thing: people often ask how I discipline myself to write. I can’t begin to understand the question. For me, the discipline is turning off the computer and leaving my desk to do something else.

I write a lot of material that I know I’ll throw away. It’s just part of the process. I have to write hundreds of pages before I get to page one.

For the whole of my career as a novelist, I have also been a mother. I was offered my first book contract, for The Bean Trees, the day I came home from the hospital with my first child. So I became a novelist and mother on the same day. Those two important lives have always been one for me. I’ve always had to do both at the same time. So my writing hours were always constrained by the logistics of having my children in someone else’s care. When they were little, that was difficult. I cherished every hour at my desk as a kind of prize. As time has gone by and my children entered school it became progressively easier to be a working mother. My oldest is an adult, and my youngest is 16, so both are now self–sufficient —but that’s been a gradual process. For me, writing time has always been precious, something I wait for and am eager for and make the best use of. That’s probably why I get up so early and have writing time in the quiet dawn hours, when no one needs me.

I used to say that the school bus is my muse. When it pulled out of the driveway and left me without anyone to take care of, that was the moment my writing day began, and it ended when the school bus came back. As a working mother, my working time was constrained. On the other hand, I’m immensely grateful to my family for normalizing my life, for making it a requirement that I end my day at some point and go and make dinner. That’s a healthy thing, to set work aside and make dinner and eat it. It’s healthy to have these people in my life who help me to carry on a civilized routine. And also to have these people in my life who connect me to the wider world and the future. My children have taught me everything about life and about the kind of person I want to be in the world. They anchor me to the future in a concrete way. Being a mother has made me a better writer. It’s also true to say that being a writer has made me a better mother.

Nathan Englander: “Turn off your cell phone.”

Englander is an award–winning short story writer, and in this interview he talks about his quest to eliminate all distractions from his writing routine…

Turn off your cell phone. Honestly, if you want to get work done, you’ve got to learn to unplug. No texting, no email, no Facebook, no Instagram. Whatever it is you’re doing, it needs to stop while you write. A lot of the time (and this is fully goofy to admit), I’ll write with earplugs in — even if it’s dead silent at home.

Karen Russell: “Enjoy writing badly.”

Russell has only written one book … and it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In an interview with The Daily Beast, she talks about her daily struggle to overcome distraction and write…

I know many writers who try to hit a set word count every day, but for me, time spent inside a fictional world tends to be a better measure of a productive writing day. I think I’m fairly generative as a writer, I can produce a lot of words, but volume is not the best metric for me. It’s more a question of, did I write for four or five hours of focused time, when I did not leave my desk, didn’t find some distraction to take me out of the world of the story? Was I able to stay put and commit to putting words down on the page, without deciding mid-sentence that it’s more important to check my email, or “research” some question online, or clean out the science fair projects in the back for my freezer?

I’ve decided that the trick is just to keep after it for several hours, regardless of your own vacillating assessment of how the writing is going. Showing up and staying present is a good writing day.

I think it’s bad so much of the time. The periods where writing feels effortless and intuitive are, for me, as I keep lamenting, rare. But I think that’s probably the common ratio of joy to despair for most writers, and I definitely think that if you can make peace with the fact that you will likely have to throw out 90 percent of your first draft, then you can relax and even almost enjoy “writing badly.”

A.J. Jacobs: “Force yourself to generate dozens of ideas.”

In an interview for the series, How I Write, Jacobs talks about his daily writing routines and dishes out some advice for young writers…

My kids wake me up. I have coffee. I make my kids breakfast, take them to school, then come home and try to write. I fail at that until I force myself to turn off my Internet access so I can get a little shelter from the information storm.

I am a big fan of outlining. I write an outline. Then a slightly more detailed outline. Then another with even more detail. Sentences form, punctuation is added, and eventually it all turns into a book.

I write while walking on a treadmill. I started this practice when I was working on Drop Dead Healthy, and read all these studies about the dangers of the sedentary life. Sitting is alarmingly bad for you. One doctor told me that “sitting is the new smoking.” So I bought a treadmill and put my computer on top of it. It took me about 1,200 miles to write my book. I kind of love it — it keeps me awake, for one thing.

Jacobs has advice for young writers, too…

Force yourself to generate dozens of ideas. A lot of those ideas will be terrible. Most of them, in fact. But there will be some sparkling gems in there too. Try to set aside 20 minutes a day just for brainstorming.

Khaled Housseni: “You have to write whether you feel like it or not.”

In an interview with Noah Charney, Housseni talks about his daily writing habits and the essential things that all writers have to do…

I don’t outline at all, I don’t find it useful, and I don’t like the way it boxes me in. I like the element of surprise and spontaneity, of letting the story find its own way. For this reason, I find that writing a first draft is very difficult and laborious. It is also often quite disappointing. It hardly ever turns out to be what I thought it was, and it usually falls quite short of the ideal I held in my mind when I began writing it. I love to rewrite, however. A first draft is really just a sketch on which I add layer and dimension and shade and nuance and color. Writing for me is largely about rewriting. It is during this process that I discover hidden meanings, connections, and possibilities that I missed the first time around. In rewriting, I hope to see the story getting closer to what my original hopes for it were.

I have met so many people who say they’ve got a book in them, but they’ve never written a word. To be a writer — this may seem trite, I realize — you have to actually write. You have to write every day, and you have to write whether you feel like it or not. Perhaps most importantly, write for an audience of one — yourself. Write the story you need to tell and want to read. It’s impossible to know what others want so don’t waste time trying to guess. Just write about the things that get under your skin and keep you up at night.

How to Apply This to Your Life

These daily routines work well for writing, but their lessons can be applied to almost any goal you hope to achieve.

For example…

  1. Pushing yourself physically prepares you to work hard mentally. Vonnegut did pushups as a break from writing. Murakami runs 10 kilometers each day. A.J. Jacobs types while walking on a treadmill. You can decide what works for you, but make sure you get out and move.
  2. Do the most important thing first. Notice how many excellent writers start writing in the morning? That’s no coincidence. They work on their goals before the rest of the day gets out of control. They aren’t wondering when they’re going to write and they aren’t battling to “fit it in” amongst their daily activities because they are doing the most important thing first.
  3. Embrace the struggle and do hard work. Did you see how many writers mentioned their struggle to write? Housseni said that his first drafts are “difficult” and “laborious” and “disappointing.” Russell called her writing “bad.” Kingsolver throws out a hundred pages before she gets to the first page of a book.

What looks like failure in the beginning is often the foundation of success. You have to grind out the hard work before you can enjoy your best work



  1. Special thanks to Brain Pickings, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, and The Daily Beast, where I originally found many of these stories.


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Wanna Get Away?


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9 Ways Reading Fiction Will Make You Happier and More Successful By Jeff Haden


I know: you’re on point, on task, and totally focused on achieving your professional goals. So if you’re going to spend time reading you want to read practical, nuts and bolts, how-to business books… right?

Not so fast.

The following is a guest post from Courtney Seiter, a content crafter at Buffer, a tool that makes social-media sharing smarter and easier. (You can read her posts on social media, productivity, and marketing on the Buffer blog.)

Here’s Courtney:

One of the most inspiring perks we’re lucky enough to have at Buffer is a free Kindle for each teammate (and her family!) and as many free Kindle books as you like, no questions asked.

When we share what we’re reading at Buffer on our Pinterest page or in our Slack community, the selections often tend to skew more toward non-fiction–you can generally find teammates reading books that help us improve at our jobs, understand our world better and become more productive, for example.

What’s interesting–and maybe a bit counterintuitive–is that reading fiction can provide many of those same self-improvement benefits, even while exploring other worlds through stories that exist only in the mind.

In fact, the practice of using books, poetry and other written words as a form of therapy has helped humans for centuries. Fiction is a uniquely powerful way to understand others, tap into creativity and exercise your brain.

The next time you feel even a tiny bit guilty for picking up a work of fiction instead of a self-help book, consider these 9 benefits of reading fiction.

1. Empathy: Imagining creates understanding

To put yourself in the shoes of others and grow your capacity for empathy, you can hardly do better than reading fiction. Multiple studies have shown that imagining stories helps activate the regions of your brain responsible for better understanding others and seeing the world from a new perspective.

“And knowing you’d all be talking and feeling and commiserating, I knew we should say something about it, lest our silence say something we didn’t mean to say or not say. So I’ll say this: In some way, we will see Glenn, some version of Glenn, or parts of Glenn again, either in flashback or in the current story, to help complete the story.”When the psychologist Raymond Mar analyzed 86 fMRI studies, he saw substantial overlap in the brain networks used to understand stories and the networks used to navigate interactions with other individuals.

“…In particular, interactions in which we’re trying to figure out the thoughts and feelings of others. Scientists call this capacity of the brain to construct a map of other people’s intentions ‘theory of mind.’ Narratives offer a unique opportunity to engage this capacity, as we identify with characters’ longings and frustrations, guess at their hidden motives and track their encounters with friends and enemies, neighbors and lovers.”

That’s because when we read about a situation or feeling, it’s very nearly as if we’re feeling it ourselves. As Fast Company reports:

“Two researchers from Washington University in St. Louis scanned the brains of fiction readers and discovered that their test subjects created intense, graphic mental simulations of the sights, sounds, movements, and tastes they encountered in the narrative. In essence, their brains reacted as if they were actually living the events they were reading about.”

2. Disengagement: Reading is most effective for stress

Your brain can’t operate at maximum capacity 24/7–far from it. We all need periods of disengagement to rest our cognitive capabilities and get back to peak functionality.

Tony Schwartz talks about this as one of the most overlooked elements of our lives: Even the fastest racing car can’t win the race with at least one or two great pit stops. The same holds true for ourselves. If we don’t have “pit-stops” built into our days, there is now chance we can race at a high performance.

And reading fiction is among the very best ways to get that disengaged rest. The New Yorker reports that:

“Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers.”

Research at the University of Sussex shows that reading is the most effective way to overcome stress, beating out other methods like listening to music or taking a walk.

Within 6 minutes of silent reading, participants’ heart rates slowed and tension in their muscles eased up to 68%. Psychologists believe reading works so well because the mind’s concentration creates a distraction that eases the body’s stress.

3. Sleep: Regular readers sleep better

In fact, the kind of relaxed disengagement that reading creates can become the perfect environment for helping you sleep.

Creating a sleep ritual is a great way to build up a consistent sleep pattern. One of the key things is to have the last activity completely disengage you from the tasks of the rest of your day.

Buffer’s CEO, Joel, has a ritual in the evening of going for a short walk and, upon returning, going straight to bed and reading a fiction book. He reports that it helps him disengage from the work he’s done in the day and get the sleep he needs to wake up refreshed and ready for the next day.

Serial optimizer Tim Ferriss also believes in the power of reading before bed–fiction only:

“Do not read non-fiction prior to bed, which encourages projection into the future and preoccupation/planning. Read fiction that engages the imagination and demands present-state attention. Recommendations for compulsive non-fiction readers include Motherless Brooklyn and Stranger in a Strange Land.”

4. Improved relationships: Books are a ‘reality simulator’

Life is complicated. Oftentimes, interpersonal relationships and challenges don’t have the simple resolutions we might like. How can we become more accepting of this reality? By using fiction to explore ideas of change, complex emotions and the unknown.

Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, proposed to the New York Times that reading produces a kind of reality simulation that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.”

Fiction, Dr. Oatley notes, “is a particularly useful simulation because negotiating the social world effectively is extremely tricky, requiring us to weigh up myriad interacting instances of cause and effect. Just as computer simulations can help us get to grips with complex problems such as flying a plane or forecasting the weather, so novels, stories and dramas can help us understand the complexities of social life.”

Writer Eileen Gunn suggests that reading science fiction, in particular, helps us accept change more readily:

“What science fiction does, especially in those works that deal with the future, is help people understand that things change and that you can live through it. Change is all around us. Probably things change faster now than they did four or five hundred years ago, particularly in some parts of the world.”

5. Memory: Readers have less mental decline in later life

We know that hearing a story is a great way to remember information for the long-term.

Now there’s also evidence that readers experience slower memory declined later in life compared to non-readers. In particular, later-in-life readers have a 32 percent lower rate of mental decline compared to their peers.

In addition to slower memory decline, those who read more have been found to show less characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease, according to a 2001 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

6. Inclusivity: Stories open your mind

Can reading Harry Potter make us more inclusive, tolerant and open-minded? One study says yes. (A butterbeer toast for everyone!)

The study, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, tested whether the novels of Harry Potter could be used as a tool for improving attitudes toward stigmatized groups.

After 3 experiments in which students read passages of the books about discrimination, the students showed changed attitudes about everything from immigrants to gay students.

Mic reports that “the researchers credited the books with improving readers’ ability to assume the perspective of marginalized groups. They also claimed that young children, with the help of a teacher, were able to understand that Harry’s frequent support of “mudbloods” was an allegory towards bigotry in real-life society.”

There’s no doubt that books can open your mind. This great, short TED talk by Lisa Bu shows just how much.

7. Vocabulary: Fiction readers build more language

We all want the kind of vocabulary that can help us express ourselves and connect with others.

Fiction can help you get there. A 2013 Emory University compared the brains of people after they read fiction (specifically, Robert Harris’ Pompeii over nine nights) to the brains of people who didn’t read.

The brains of the readers showed more activity in certain areas than those who didn’t read–especially the left temporal cortex, the part of the brain typically associated with understanding language.

The website analyzed millions of its test-takers to discover the somewhat expected conclusion that reading more builds a bigger vocabulary.

What was less expected was how much of a difference the type of reading made: Fiction readers were significantly more likely to have a larger vocabulary.

The study noted:

“That fiction reading would increase vocabulary size more than just non-fiction was one of our hypotheses–it makes sense, after all, considering that fiction tends to use a greater variety of words than non-fiction does. However, we hadn’t expected its effect to be this prominent.”

8. Creativity: Fictions allows for uncertainty (where creativity thrives!)

In the movies, we often long for a happy ending. Have you noticed that fiction can be much more ambiguous?

That’s exactly what makes it the perfect environment for creativity. A study published in Creativity Research Journal asked students to read either a short fictional story or a non-fiction essay and then measured their emotional need for certainty and stability.

Researchers discovered that the fiction readers had less need for “cognitive closure” than those who read non-fiction, and added:

“These findings suggest that reading fictional literature could lead to better procedures of processing information generally, including those of creativity.”

9. Pleasure: Reading makes you happier

All the above factors are great. But the very biggest reason I try to read every single day? I love it. It makes me happy, and I’m not alone–a survey of 1,500 adult readers in the UK found that 76% of them said reading improves their life and helps to make them feel good.

Other findings of the survey are that those who read books regularly are on average more satisfied with life, happier, and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile.

It’s fascinating to me to think about how much has changed in American life and media over the years in the chart published by Pew. Somehow reading for pleasure has remained relatively stable–even with the advent of the Internet, smart phones and so many more attention-zapping inventions.

Posted: Published on: Nov 19, 2015
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The Daily Routines of Famous Writers by James Clear

How many people die with their best work still inside them?

We often assume that great things are done by those who were blessed with natural talent, genius, and skill. But how many great things could have been done by people who never fully realized their potential? I think many of us, myself included, are capable of much more than we typically produce — our best work is often still hiding inside of us.

How can you pull that potential out of yourself and share it with the world?

Perhaps the best way to develop better daily routines. When you look at the top performers in any field, you see something that goes much deeper than intelligence or skill. They possess an incredible willingness to do the work that needs to be done. They are masters of their daily routines.

As an example of what separates successful people from the rest of the pack, take a look at some of the daily routines of famous writers from past and present.

E.B. White: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

In an interview with The Paris Review, E.B. White, the famous author of Charlotte’s Web, talked about his daily writing routine…

I never listen to music when I’m working. I haven’t that kind of attentiveness, and I wouldn’t like it at all. On the other hand, I’m able to work fairly well among ordinary distractions. My house has a living room that is at the core of everything that goes on: it is a passageway to the cellar, to the kitchen, to the closet where the phone lives. There’s a lot of traffic. But it’s a bright, cheerful room, and I often use it as a room to write in, despite the carnival that is going on all around me.

In consequence, the members of my household never pay the slightest attention to my being a writing man — they make all the noise and fuss they want to. If I get sick of it, I have places I can go. A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.

Haruki Murakami: “The repetition itself becomes the important thing.”

In a 2004 interview, Murakami discussed his physical and mental habits…

When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m.

I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.

But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.

Ernest Hemingway: “I write every morning.”

In an interview with George Plimpton, Hemingway revealed his daily routine…

When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there.

You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that.

When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.


  1. Special thanks to Brain Pickings, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, and The Daily Beast, where I originally found many of these stories.


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Archaeologists make discovery in Jerusalem that may have belonged to biblical Prophet Isaiah Chris Enloe

Archaeologists make discovery in Jerusalem that may have belonged to biblical Prophet Isaiah


Archaeologists in Israel made a marvelous discovery during a recent excavation at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

According to the Biblical Archaeological Society, scientists discovered a clay seal stamp they believe belonged to Old Testament Prophet Isaiah.

The 2,700-year-old artifact clearly has the prophet’s name — Yesha’yah is the English transliteration — in ancient Hebrew script, according to Dr. Eilat Mazar of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It is about one-half inch wide and oval shaped.

In ancient times, clay stamps, also called “bulla,” were used to authenticate documents and other items.

How do they know it belonged to Isaiah?

Scientists say they have several reasons to believe the seal belonged to the actual Prophet Isaiah.

First, the seal was found just 10 feet away from where archaeologists recently discovered the bulla of King Hezekiah, the 13th king of Judah, who reigned from about 715BC to 686BC. According to the biblical book of Kings, Isaiah was close to King Hezekiah. The second book of Kings details how Hezekiah trusted Isaiah’s counsel during the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem. As the BAS noted, no other prophet was closer to Hezekiah than Isaiah.

“If it is the case that this bulla is indeed that of the prophet Isaiah, then it should not come as a surprise to discover this bulla next to one bearing King Hezekiah’s name given the symbiotic relationship of the prophet Isaiah and King Hezekiah described in the Bible,” Mazar said.

Second, following Isaiah’s name on the stamp are the Hebrew letters “nun,” “bet” and “yod.” They are the first three of four letters that comprise the Hebrew word for “prophet.” What’s missing is the fourth: the Hebrew letter “aleph.”

But because the stamp has been damaged and the end of the second word is missing, Mazar said it’s unclear if the stamp originally said “prophet” or if it was just another name.

“The absence of this final letter, however, requires that we leave open the possibility that it could just be the name Navi. The name of Isaiah, however, is clear,” Mazar explained.

Read more about the discovery and view pictures of the seal here.


Posted: February 26, 2018

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The Blessings of Being a Writer by Henry McLaughlin

Yes, Virginia, there are blessings to being a writer. And it goes beyond multi-book deals, beyond making the bestseller list, beyond movie deals. Few writers attain these lofty heights.

But all writers can experience the blessings of being a writer:

Learning And not just learning a new skill such as the craft of writing. Though this is crucial. It’s also learning about who we are as individuals. It’s learning patience and determination and perseverance. It’s learning to constructively receive feedback, especially when it’s not what we want to hear. Writing has revealed parts of me I hadn’t seen before. Some of them make me feel pretty good about myself. Others not so much. But incorporating these lessons has made me not only a better writer, but also a better person.

Community The act of writing is usually done alone, but it does not occur in a vacuum. As we strive and struggle in the craft, we meet and form relationships with a myriad of people who share this journey with us. Non-writers can’t relate to this as well as writers can. It’s like we have a non-verbal language for communicating with each other. These relationships can become deep and meaningful friendships with people who “get us.” People who share our frustrations, our rejections, and our successes. I value my close writer friends who refuse to let me wallow in my self-pity at my self-perceived lack of success. They pray with me, challenge me, and won’t let me quit.

Readers Whether we write fiction or nonfiction, blogs, articles, newsletters, we touch readers. And we may never know who we touch or in what way. Some readers have thanked me because my novels brought them closer to God. Others thank me for creating characters who give them hope that they too can change their circumstances.

The call Many writers will say they are called to write. And not just writers in the Christian market. Writing fulfills a deep purpose in our lives, deeper than just working to put food on the table. For many, writing is more than a job. I know God has called me to write for this season of my life. So I write. I pray over ideas and manuscripts. I pray over characters and plots. I get to paint pictures with words, not a brush. I get to use words to reveal Jesus to my readers through the characters who tell my stories. I need to respect his calling and honor it through what I write and how I write it.


What blessings has being a writer brought you?


Posted: February 14, 2018


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