January 26, 2015

Looking Up in 2015 by Marnie Pohlmann

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“Look Up. Look wa-a-ay up.”

“One little chair for one of you, and a bigger chair for two to curl up in, and for someone who likes to rock, a rocking chair in the middle.”

“And there's that boot.”

“I'll go on ahead and lower the drawbridge.”1

Do you recognize these words? You may be dating yourself along with me if you do. As a child I remember pausing in play to watch The Friendly Giant, who said these lines each show. This month’s theme is looking back, looking forward, and these words of The Friendly Giant help me do both.

In my writing, when I look back I can see some advancement in 2014; but to be honest, I have to look wa-a-ay back to see any real forward movement in my writing. Over the years I have received praise from teachers and professors, known the freedom of journaling to aid in personal healing and understanding, experienced the joy of winning contests, felt the satisfaction of supporting organizations with my prose, and seen the occasional publication of a written gem. Writing is a large part of me no matter what I am doing, but any accomplishment has been happenstance, not purposed, and rarely sought.

The Friendly Giant Museum
For a while I avoided involvement with writing, but last year I reconnected with Inscribe and with some of the local writers here in the Peace Region. I was reminded that while we may enjoy different genres, we also enjoy gathering to share and sharpen our gift of writing. I wonder if writing may be a solitary pursuit best done in community. I appreciate so much the encouragement I find with Inscribe writers; there is no direct competition, simply uplifting support. No matter our preference of expression or desire to publish or not, we are all welcomed. “One little chair for one of you, and a bigger chair for two to curl up in, and for someone who likes to rock, a rocking chair in the middle.”

I am amazed at how fast the last few years have flown by,  with major life events and changes marking time in my journey. Life continued while I was not looking, and I became rusty at what I enjoy. It’s time to get in shape! Being connected to other writers is a way God is encouraging me to exercise writing - making time to write, writing specific projects rather than jumping from one unfinished project to another, and seeking to somehow share my offering. “And there’s that boot.” So in 2015, with God firmly nudging and strengthening me, and with fellow writers to encourage me through accountability, I submit to God and will be more purposed in my writing.

I hesitate to say I undertake this commitment of writing with excitement, but I embark on it because it’s clear the season is now. Nothing in my life has changed - I still minister with my husband while working full time, my health is stable with energy returning and closing on the mark of two years cancer-free, my family is still adjusting to new dynamics in living arrangements - yet the promise I made to God years ago, remains. “That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.” (Psalm 26:7 KJV) God now seems to be going before me to provide opportunities, so I will head where God is leading, as He goes “on ahead to lower the drawbridge”. What a great picture of hope for our writing - when I see in my circumstances a dangerous moat and no way across, God provides a drawbridge; a path of safety He opens for me.

Whatever genre I settle into, whatever audience of readers it is shared with, if any, God is not simply leading me in my writing - He is leading me in His eternal kingdom. Eternity is a concept hard to grasp - it makes me feel so small, like the little chairs looked next to The Friendly Giant’s hand. Yet eternity with Him is what God promises and what motivates me toward more purposeful writing in this physical realm of that eternity. The only way I know to be purposeful is to look to God for leading, clarification, and inspiration through Scripture, prayer, and relationship. 

My goals for 2015, therefore, are to “Look up, look wa-a-ay up” and to write with purpose – to deadline, to word count, to finish, and to share.

God will do wondrous works in our lives and through our writing as we look to Him this year.

1. The Friendly Giant (1958-1985), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

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January 25, 2015

Connecting the Dots by Vickie Stam

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Proverbs 16:3 "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed."

I sometimes find it difficult to only reflect on the previous year because I find myself playing a mental game of connect the dots. When I look back, I end up looking further; following the trail back to that first dot. A person, place or thing that stands out.         

A thought entered my mind while I was thinking about last year. I realized I had been out of school for more than three decades. Wow! Time had slipped away. I never felt the years gaining on me until I looked in the mirror. The lines of time were forthright; each one growing more difficult to conceal. Underneath it all I could still see the younger me; the girl who enjoyed her English class during her time in high school. I recognized that time in my life as one of those first dots. My formal introduction to writing. 

Taking part in a number of writing classes over the last four years has only heightened my desire for a pen and paper. After so many years away from school I never imagined that in my forties I would choose to enroll in some general interest writing classes, but I did. There I was putting words down on paper for someone other than myself. I was so far outside the 'safety net' of my journal and I was enjoying it. 

Last year, I actually began to admit, "I'm a writer." When someone asked me, "What do you do?" I didn't hesitate to tell them that my husband and I are farmers, words that flowed out of me rather easily. It's part of who I am. And then I heard myself say, 
"I also like to write." 

"What do you write about?" 

They sounded intrigued.

I explained that at this point in time I mostly write about myself?

"Anything non-fiction, really"  

Those words, "I like to write" were out there hanging in the air, hovering over me with an overwhelming sense of insecurity but in that moment I could hardly take them back. Even though I felt uncomfortable I felt something flutter in me. It was the moment of truth. Another part of who I am.

"Are you writing a book?" They asked

 "No.... not yet." I replied.

"But I am writing for InScribe Christian Writers' on-line blog."  

Most people I talk to have never heard of InScribe. Neither had I until I found myself searching the internet for an on-line writers group, a place to connect with other writers, people like myself who can't imagine life without words, brainstorming, writing, editing and maybe even--- publishing.

In January of 2014 I was preparing my first post for InScribe's blog. I felt nervous and excited all at the same time. I wondered what people might think or say about the stories I would contribute each month but the feedback has been nothing but kind and gentle. Encouraging.   

Writing allows me to feel everything. It is my constant companion. I can't imagine my life without it. I look forward to what God has in store for me as I press on. Writing contests, delving into fiction, having short stories published and who knows.....in the future, I may even tackle writing a book.

    **** In my world of dots, I trust that God holds the marker. That he has traced every line long before my feet travel its path from one to the other. I trust it is his will that I write, and I trust it is his will that someone reads it.


January 24, 2015

Blessings and Confession - Tandy Balson

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2014 was a significant year for me.  It was when I started to call myself a writer.   The highlight early in the year was the release of my first book.  Holding that book in my hands didn’t seem like the realization of a dream as much as the beginning of one.

Attending two writers’ conferences and making connection with other Christian writers were important factors in following that dream.  It was a blessing as well as a relief to meet others whose minds also went in strange directions.  I learned that I’m not crazy, I’m a writer!

My problem has been in keeping my motivation when I am back in my own little world.  On that note, it’s time to get honest and admit that I have a big problem.  I know I’m not the only one afflicted with this, but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.

The issue I struggle with is procrastination.  I’ve joked about this by saying things like, “Why do today what I can put off until tomorrow?” or “If it wasn’t for the last minute nothing would ever get done.”  All joking aside, this has got to stop.
Case in point: I sat down at my computer to do some writing.  Since I was there anyway, I might as well check my email.  There was one with a link to a blog I follow, so needed to click on that and read today’s post.  That reminds me, I should check on my latest blog post to see how it’s doing.   I wonder why this one doesn’t have as many views on Facebook as the last one.  Maybe I should check and see who “liked” it.  Before I log out I should take a quick look at my news feed.  There are a couple of things I need to comment on.  Oh look, here’s a test to see which Disney Princess I’d be.  That looks like fun.

It’s time to get back to my writing.  I started out strong but am stuck for just the right words now.  Maybe I’ll just play a game (or three) of computer solitaire while I’m waiting for inspiration to strike.  I’d go back to my story but think I need a snack and maybe a hot drink.  While I’m here I should probably throw a load of laundry in.  Oh yes, I was going to bake muffins today.  I can always go back to my writing while they’re in the oven.

This would be funny if it weren’t an accurate picture of how easily my day can get off track.  What I want most is to write.  What I fear is that what I write isn’t good enough that anyone will want to read it.  If I procrastinate long enough, I won’t have to worry what anyone will think because there won’t be anything written.  My self-sabotage will be complete.

This story is getting old and needs a new ending.  I can’t keep doing this to myself.  The only one who can eliminate this problem is me. For 2015 I need to set writing goals, be firm with myself and stick to them.  Even more importantly, I need to make sure my writing is covered in prayer.

God has called me to be a writer.  With his guidance I can do this. 

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 NIV

 blog: http://www.timewithtandy.com

January 23, 2015

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow by Terrie Lynne

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2015 is shaping up to be a busy and exciting year as my husband and I are planing the building of a new home. But, I have to admit with the uncertainty of our economy, the war on terror, and simply dealing with the reality that my husband and I are getting older, I've wondered if now is the time to be taking on such a large task! What if the world, as we know it, ends tomorrow !
Even when I may, at times, stew and fret over the trials and tribulation of life and the uncertainties of the world situation I can find comfort in knowing that my Heavenly Dad, who is my rock, is not in heaven biting his nails, pensively pacing back and forth, wondering what on earth is going to happen next!  He knows the beginning from the end. He is in control. He is the Creator of the universe and you can't get any bigger than that! But, even though He is all powerful and majestic, He meets us where we are at in our present day situations. I believe He shares in our joys and sorrows. He is our confidant and constant companion in uncertain times, and He promises to never leave us nor forsake us. Believing this gives my husband and I the confidence we need to continue on with our plans and hopes for the future.
We may not know what tomorrow holds but we know who holds tomorrow.
Clipart by Bing