April 17, 2015

FRESHNESS OR FRUIT? by Bryan Norford

Enjoyed? Click: 


 Reading previous blogs on the current issue, It has become plain that most, if not all, writers go through dry periods. Which leads me once again to challenge the premise of this month’s subject. Psalm 1:3 certainly suggests our leaves should remain green all the time. But is greenness the goal? Specifically, the Psalm suggests producing fruit in season.
 

Which brings us to the seasons of life. We bewail the dry periods of life—they are difficult and painful—yet every tree that flourishes goes though its winter cycle of apparent deadness. In Christian terms, remaining fresh is remaining faithful during the “long night of the soul.”

Ann and I often remind young marrieds, that difficulties in the relationship are not a sign the marriage is failing. Resolving them is the bedrock of a stronger marriage and closer relationship. Good marriages are built on the tough times, just as a mariner learns his craft on the rough seas.

Many of the previous blogs indicate a freshness of understanding that comes on emerging from the dark periods. It’s not too exaggerated to say our faith and perseverance are built in those times; without them we would be spiritually poorer, and our output less real. Pat answers are for those who manage to sail through life on smooth seas.

Can we recognize the barren times as necessary as the flourishing times? After all, Ecclesiastes reminds us there is a time for everything. The particular work He has for us may require the times of searching and discovery the hard times bring.

We prefer to walk in a grassy meadow than a trackless desert, but even the inhospitable desert has a severe beauty. It is only as we emerge from the aridness we can see the grandeur of God’s plan and the hidden beauty of His handiwork.

Perhaps Corrie Ten Boom’s Poem sums it up:

My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.

Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.

Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned

He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.

 

Every blog I’ve read this month reveals a victorious emergence from a period of barrenness. By remaining faithful, however long or short the quiet periods of germination, we will produce our fruit in season. We won’t miss it if we trust His schedule—it’s always right on time.

April 16, 2015

Spring - by Loretta Bouillon

Enjoyed? Click: 

Spring is time for new beginnings and is an opportunity to start fresh. That all sounds good in theory, however, how can I apply this to my writing?

Let me be very honest with you. For lack of a better term, I have been experiencing a type of writer’s block. Normally, I tend to write about what’s happening around me with my family. If I do actually sit down to work on my novel (which is forever in process), life must be running relatively smoothly so I can focus. For the past few months, there have been some challenges in my life.  Other than  journaling, I am not motivated or inspired to write about those things. This is partly because it is too personal and partly because I think, “who wants to read about my struggles?”  Through this season, I have been learning that it’s okay to lay down the “important” writing projects with the perspective that writing is sometimes just between me and God. For my eyes only, and for His. I journal the process as a sort of therapy and prayer.

Although I will continue doing this, I have made a decision. I am going to try a new kind of therapy. I am still going to write about the world around me but I am also going to try something new. I have made a list of things I am going to write about “just because” and for no particular reason. Happy things. Intentional things. Meaningful to me things. My list goes something like this:

  • My garden
  • My greenhouse
  • My most favourite places on my property to enjoy my afternoon coffee
  • Outdoor aquafit
  • My dogs
  • My horses
  • A new recipe
  • A road trip alone
  • Sitting by the river
  • A walk through a meadow

I might blog about these things, write them as a devotion to God or maybe even try my hand at poetry; but I have a list! A random list of seasonal topics that I will just have fun with. I am actually getting excited thinking about the challenge as I type this post J.  Hmmn….it  might even be an idea to do this at the beginning of every season?



https://lorettabouillon.wordpress.com/



April 15, 2015

Inspired by Burn Out - Tracy Krauss

Enjoyed? Click: 
I'm not sure I feel qualified to speak to this month's prompt. The suggestion said, "How do you keep yourself and your writing fresh as you produce new articles, books or songs without burn-out or repeating the same ideas?"

In the past I would have said, "Burn out? What's that?" It's kind of a foreign concept for me. I've always had a fairly high output level when it comes to productivity. I like staying busy. I often have too many irons in the fire, but it's the way I like it. I thrive on a certain amount of pressure. Another thing I might have said is that I always have more than one project on the go at one time. When I get bored or stuck, I switch to a different project. 

That's what I WOULD have said... 

Truthfully, I'm feeling a bit of burn-out this year, and it's not very comfortable. The first thing I've had to do is lay the guilt aside. I had lofty goals at the beginning of 2015, but very little on my 'list' has found its way into reality.

It's not as if I haven't been writing. I submitted two articles for the upcoming Inscribe Anthology, I've continued to blog here each month, maintain my personal blog 'Expression Express', post on the Word Guild blog, and recently I started writing for the Inscribe professional blog on writing. I've written some articles for Fellowscript, collaborated on a play, edited some work for another writer, written some reviews, not to mention I've written a sermon almost every week since January. (My husband and I are serving as Interim pastors in our church and I was left to do the preaching for the entire months of January, February and much of March.) 

Just writing this list has boosted my 'satisfaction-meter'. I WAS productive, despite the fact that my two works in progress only grew by a few thousand words over the course of the last three months.  

I've come to realize that seasons of inspiration will come and go and that's okay. Sometimes the best remedy for burn-out is to just let it be. That in itself can be inspiration enough.



Tracy Krauss continues to ponder life from her home in Tumbler Ridge, BC. If you're interested in any of her many published books or plays (all published last year or earlier...) visit her website


April 14, 2015

From Typecast to Fresh by Bobbi Junior

Enjoyed? Click: 
"How do I keep my writing fresh" is a timely question because I haven't been feeling fresh at all. Static might be a better word, to be honest.  You see, I wrote a book called “The Reluctant Caregiver”. It won an award. It was published. It’s opened up all sorts of opportunities. And all of them are based on caregiving.



But I’m tired of caregiving! After years of caring for my daughter, a quadriplegic (now an independent adult, thank you, Lord!), followed caring for my mother who passed away after several years battling dementia, I’m finally released from the caregiver role. 

And what happens? Everyone wants me to write about it, speak about it, share about it, even sit on an Advisory committee about it.

First I burned out from caregiving!

Now I’m burning out from sharing about the burnout!


“Lord,” I pouted, “I’m tired of this. I feel like an actor who’s been typecast in one role, and no one sees me as anything else.”

I’m not sure how to explain it, but the Lord answered me, loud and clear. “I’ve spent fifteen years teaching you, supporting you, and maturing you through caregiving. Did your prayer to be used by me mean nothing?”

Gulp.

Time for metanoia. (Defn: a change in one's way of life resulting from penitence or spiritual conversion.)

With sincere apologies to the Lord, I did an about-face.

I began to look on these opportunities as a privilege. I made a conscious choice to embrace them.

Still, I need to stay fresh. I need to write on other topics so I don’t feel stagnant.

My blog provides a weekly outlet. There, I can write about any topic I want, and I do. Sometimes the rebel in me rises up and I post words that I know will rub a few folk the wrong way. Other times I don’t feel like dealing with contradictory comments, so I hold back. But those pieces get posted eventually!


The Writer's Cafe in action
Another way I stay fresh is through The Writers’ Cafe, our monthly writing group. There we challenge each other with prompts and suggestions, spend time co-writing and sometimes work on assignments between meetings—none of which, I’m happy to say, have focused on caregiving.

The Lord opened my eyes to the fact that he's put a great deal of time into growing me through this one life-experience. Once I got past my 'self', I realized it's an honour to be able to share what he’s taught me.

He’s given me free rein everywhere else, though, and that’s where my fresh ideas grow. Who knows? Maybe one day the Lord will assign me a new topic. I just hope it doesn’t take fifteen years of intense labour to become an expert in that one, too!


Bobbi Junior writes narrative non-fiction through memoir.  Topics include caregiving and mental health. Bobbi’s passion is to use story to show how the Lord brings about value for our suffering. Visit Bobbi’s blog at www.bobbijunior.com or listen to ‘Not Me, Lord” each Monday on HopeStreamRadio.com

April 13, 2015

Musings by T. L. Wiens

Enjoyed? Click: 
Over the last few months my husband almost died, my mother had a heart attack, my father in-law has faced serious health issues and my mother in-law has broken her hip which led to diagnosing other serious health issues. All these incidents have put me into a figure out my priorities state of mind.
I’ve gone through many ups and downs during my short writing career. More often or not the pendulum has swung towards walking away from the difficulties of publishing. And then the “but” rises to the surface—I’ve had many encouraging letters and phone calls from people who were helped with my writing.
But what do you do when you receive a scathing personal attack from others within the industry? When I published my third novel, I knew it was not going to be the favourite of many Christians in the industry. Then I heard back from the royalty mainstream publisher—the editor thanked me for the book. She said it cleared up many things she never understood about Christianity. As part of the contract, the book was sent to be considered by a Christian book awards organization. What I got back was a personal attack that had nothing to do with the book. When I contacted the awards people, they apologized. The lady said, “I thought I deleted all of those comments.” It hurt. They’d judged me instead of the book. When I asked to see the comments, I was told they couldn’t provide me with them. I left the group associated with the awards. I then went through who had won the awards over the years and was appalled to find the blatant favouritism in who was chosen as winners year after year.
I don’t ever expect to a best seller but I will never be a sell out. Will I ever publish again? Maybe, if God leads that way. For now, I will continue to write and share my stories with the people God places in my path. And for those who decided to make my entry of a book in their awards a chance to attack me, I feel sorry for them. How can anyone take our profession seriously with behaviour like that?
Now I find myself wondering what to do with the time given me. Watching life slip away before my eyes makes me realize if God can use my writing, I will continue serving Him with this gift.