July 28, 2016

Small Steps On The Path Of Service by Bob Jones

I was fifteen years old when Commander Neil Armstrong stepped out of Apollo 11 and on to the moon’s surface. The Jones family was vacationing at our cottage on Georgian Bay in Ontario. We huddled in close around our 13” black and white TV screen, straining to see and hear. “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

For most people July 20, 1969 is connected to their love affair with space and exploration. Or it’s a date associated with vision and achievement. President John F. Kennedy cast his vision in 1961 of “achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”

For me, the lunar landing and walk was about Armstrong’s immortal sentence. I didn’t know it then but I had fallen under the spell of the power of wisely chosen words. “Small step,” “giant leap” “man” and “mankind” in and of themselves don’t amount to much but coupled together and spoken from space are to-the-moon-and-back-kind of genius.

As a writer, are you taking small steps towards your own immortality through words? I am. It matters to me when someone pays attention to or was helped by my writing. It should matter to you, too.

Isn’t it heady stuff to see your words tweeted out or displayed on Pinterest or in a meme? How about having someone reference your writing in a magazine or newspaper article or blog post? Better still, someone’s life being literally changed because of an experience or learning you put into words.

T. L. Wiens was spot on in her Inscribe post, The Difference An Article Made, about writing on familiar subjects. “We might have similar stories but we all have different audiences.”

JoyleneBailey offered some great insight into how there are no missteps in following the Lord’s leading. “Sometimes it’s the small steps in the “wrong” direction that lead to valuable giant leaps. Even those misplaced steps are not wasted. And who can say if they really were misplaced?”

Many times Jesus' disciples seemed headed in the wrong direction.  Once the Master listener caught them arguing over who would be the greatest in the kingdom. The disciples felt sheepish. Certainly they had taken a misstep. It is worth noting that Jesus didn’t chastise or criticize his disciples’ lofty aspirations. Jesus helped his closest followers discover the path of greatness. “Be the servant of all.”

As a writer I want to be a friend to other writers. I hope one day my writing will have enough substance to serve others by being quoted (or even plagiarized) by communicators inspired by my words.

If ever you read anything I’ve written and want to quote it, you have my permission to say, “My friend, Bob Jones said…”

Robert (Bob) W. Jones is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He writes to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.

July 27, 2016

Early Bird Registration Closes Soon!

Haven't registered for fall conference yet? Early Bird Registration closes on July 31!

Register for the Fall Conference!

Early Bird Rate Ends July 31
Conference: September 22 - 24, 2016

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 (special rates apply, limited seating)

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July 26, 2016

Walk Like a Postman by Marnie Pohlmann

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

I’m sure I first learned to walk in order to keep up with my brothers as they played with a toy I wanted, but it was my father who taught me to walk with purpose.

Dad was a postman, and on summer vacation, I was occasionally invited to walk the mid-morning portion of his route with him. I wanted to, because it usually ended in a treat from the ice-cream bicycle we would meet along the way. Dad walked fast, though. He had to cover a certain amount of ground. Sometimes I ran to catch up, but soon I learned to walk quickly alongside rather than dilly-dally along the way. No matter how hot the day was, no matter how heavy his mailbag, no matter how grumpy the dogs along the way, Dad walked with purpose to get the job done.

As young as I was when I learned to walk like Dad, I haven’t seemed to translate that physical walk to my spiritual or writing journey. I still wander all over the landscape. My trail of small size six footprints meander along, climbing around the mountain of my life. I may be going higher and higher, but I sometimes pause to play in the mud or flowery dales alongside the trail, forgetting I need to move forward. Occasionally I go to the edge of the path to look down on the valley below. Each circle of the mountain provides a different view of the same past. Each one closer, perhaps, to how God views the events of my life from His eternal perspective.

Looking back along that trail I can see points where steps I took led me into new territory that would be life-changing, though I seldom realized it at the time. One such step happened when we moved from small town living into a city.

I don’t remember how I found her number, but I screwed up the courage to phone. I spoke with Linda Wegner, leader of the local Inscribe writers’ group in Saskatoon. I asked about the next meeting. A few nights later, this small town introvert was driving along unfamiliar streets across a big city to a stranger’s home to meet people I did not know. I was not even sure if I should be in their company! These were writers!

(At this meeting I also met a writer who was a Professor at a local Bible School in Saskatoon. Later that year, when life changed our path again, my husband started his journey to ministry at that school.)

Half a dozen years later we left Saskatoon and I was heartbroken to leave the friends in the His Imprint writers’ group. When I settled into my new home, I put out word I was starting a Christian writers’ group. I need and enjoy the connection, the encouragement, the instruction, and the spiritual support. And I find much of what I need in my new Inscribe group in Northern British Columbia.

I am not published as much as some of the writers I have been privileged to meet along the way, but I have been inspired to be purposeful in my writing. I am encouraged to be purposeful not only in the practice of writing, but in the sharing of that writing. I have contributed monthly to this Inscribe writers online blog for over a year now, and this past February I started my own blog as well.

I'm learning to write like a postman walks.

July 25, 2016

Small Steps - Big Leap By Vickie Stam

When I close my eyes I can see myself doing the very things I can't seem to do with them open. It all comes down to one thing.....fear.

Even the smallest steps in life can cause fear to rear its ugly head. The challenge is conquering that fear.

In 2010, I sat down in front of my computer looking for something to do outside of work and taking care of my home. I wanted something more. Never having gone on to college after leaving high school, I began to search through the programs at local colleges. What I found was a list of general interest courses. I scrolled through the list of evening classes. I had no idea what I wanted to do.

"A Call to Write" leaped from the screen. It grabbed my attention instantly. I remember reading the introduction to the course and thinking, I like to journal so maybe this is the course for me. And then fear started to set in.  

Questions flogged my brain. How long has it been since I went to school? Too long! What if the assignments are too difficult? I'll look dumb. What if I don't like it? I can stop going. Amongst all the questions, I had all the answers. 

It was time to take those first steps. Sign up for the course. Buy the notebook and pen. Believe in myself. Tell fear to take a hike! I did just that and loved my first writing class and every one since. 

Six years later, that fear is gone. I write with my eyes closed. Some nights I can't shut my brain down. When the world outside my window is fast asleep, my mind is watching the pen move across the page. It's listening to the sound of my fingers pluck the keyboard. It's seeing the words come to life. It's telling a story. 

July 24, 2016

Like a Turtle - by Tandy Balson

My writing journey began when I followed the example of a turtle.  This may sound strange, but allow me to explain.

A turtle is unable to move forward until it sticks its neck out.  This involves risk. For a turtle it’s the risk of physical danger.  For me it was the risk of rejection.  Unless I felt very safe I was not going to come out of my shell.

The stage was set when I attended a silent retreat. Upon arrival I was given a journal for recording my thoughts. As I strolled through towering evergreens and along the bank of a winding creek the peaceful setting stilled my mind.  Over the next two days I was inspired to make many entries in the journal. These snippets held a depth of insight I’d rarely experienced. 

My next step came when I invited a friend to accompany me on a speaking trip.  During our drive from Calgary to eastern Saskatchewan we shared deeply and authentically about our lives.  In this safe and non-judgmental atmosphere I found the confidence to read some entries from my journal. I was still sticking my neck out but felt the risk was minimal.

My friend encouraged me to start writing a blog.  The thought of sharing my words with others was terrifying.  I agreed to pray about it and the next morning woke up with the words to my first post already composed in my mind.  Now I just needed to stick my neck out enough to share them!

A short time later I gathered my courage and joined a weekly meeting of local writers.  There was an opportunity to share our writing at each meeting. The support and encouragement I received led me to believe that sticking my neck out to do this was worth the risk.

When I hid in my safe little shell, nothing exciting or challenging was allowed to enter my predictable life.  Once I started to move like a turtle by sticking my neck out, things began to change.  My blog posts have evolved into two books.  That was really sticking my neck out!  It paid off though, as one was recently a finalist in The Word Awards.

In the past few years I’ve joined both InScribe and The Word Guild.  What I have learned through their online communities and conferences has enabled me to improve in the craft of writing. Contacts made have also lead to my work appearing in national and international publications.

I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go.  Every minute of this journey has been an unexpected gift. The small steps I took by sticking my neck out have proven to be what was needed to move me forward.  Every time I do it, it gets a little easier. I just need to keep following the example of the slow and steady turtle.