February 22, 2018

Mending Hearts & Loving People by Alan Anderson

The writing prompt question for this month’s blog post is an interesting one. It asks, “In what way do your writing, speaking, music, publishing and/or other ministries bring hope and redemption to others?”

I have spent a lot of my ministry or work years with people who are grieving a loss, seriously ill and those who are dying. I call them my teachers. I now include them in my writing. I believe I’ve written about them in this blog before.

I protect the privacy of my teachers by being cautious with how I write about my experiences with them. If I use names they are fictitious. I may also combine their stories with others or summarize them.

For the most part my teachers are like me, ordinary people. Like me they are not world famous and they seem to be content with that. They had childhoods, attended school, grew up, worked, raised families and some reached a retirement stage in life. In time their health was compromised and life experienced a major adjustment.

As my teachers came to trust me I was allowed into their lives to hear their stories. Their stories are real. They are stories glowing with pride as they talk about their families. They are stories of remorse as they mention regrets. Stories that include the stinging pain of loved ones no longer with us. My teachers remind me through their stories that life is precious and is to be savored.

My approach when serving people is to come as an ambassador of God’s love. I have always given my teachers a piece of my heart. To approach them as if I want to fix them would come short of showing compassion. My teachers have primarily been people who are broken in some way. I come alongside them as one also broken, yet living in hope.

I summarize my writing and work/ministry by one simple phrase. My phrase is “Touched by grief and held by hope.” It identifies me with other broken people. I have experienced grief. I live embraced by hope. This phrase found me after years of coming alongside people and listening to them.

Listening to hurting people is an act of healing that brings hope. I don’t mean it cures them from their suffering. It allows them to know someone cares about the pain in their hearts. Through the years a number of my teachers have said, “thank you for listening.” That “thank you” is a beautiful expression from someone perhaps lonely or held captive by suffering.

I cannot think about my teachers without being emotional. They taught me how to be present, to truly listen without the need to speak. I tell myself if I don’t listen to people, I don’t have the right to speak into their lives.

Do you have teachers in your life? Who are they? Relish them. Hold them close to your hopeful heart. Let them know how much you appreciate and love them. They will accept this with grace.

Beware of taking your teachers for granted. Realize that they may not always be with you. Treasure your time with them. These are the people who make the world a better place. Be one of them. That will be your greatest gift to them.

Blog: scarredjoy.wordpress.com

February 21, 2018

Moving Ahead in Hope .... by Jocelyn Faire

If we could see time as a circle, we might be better able to see how birth and death belong within the one embrace. John O'Donohue 
Our plane landed this past Monday night and my husband and I drove directly to the nursing home that my mother has called home for the past 13 months. The messages had been giving rise to anxieties... should we try to return early? Her health was failing rapidly. We had known this for awhile ... but when the day comes to say good by to your mother, it is still a sad day. 
My mother of ninety three displayed a strength and joy of life, a contentment and sense of adventure. 
The following poem was written after the painful death of children, but no matter the age death is difficult. 

What is Grief?
It is not a sentiment,
of heart wrenching beautiful words.
It is incredible pain,
A darkness I cannot breathe in,
A tangible taste I cannot brush away.
A pain I think I cannot survive
It is not pretty, but it can bring about beauty.
It is a journey, I did not choose to embark on.
Grief is questions and searching
It redefines my soul.
Grief is so lonely it doubts the existence of love. 
Bizarrely, the sun still shines in the midst of grief
And flowers still bloom. 
Because of that 
         I choose to live!

There have been many opportunities to share the hope I have been given despite life altering grief. Choose hope, choose life.

February 19, 2018

Little thing are big by Eunice Matchett

After a few days of a winter escape and a seven-hour drive, I pulled back into town. Fresh snow lay everywhere. Not just a skiff, but at least a six-inch covering. My heart dropped. I live n a corner house with a double driveway. That meant shoveling. Lots of shoveling.  All the way down the last block I convinced myself it wouldn’t be as bad as it looked. That starting was the hardest part of any job. As I turned onto my block, my jaw dropped. Someone had not only blown the snow off the outer sidewalk, but the driveway and back approach as well. Gratefulness washed through me.

A week later, I still don’t know who the good neighbor was, but I am blessed every time I look out my windows or drive on the driveway.

Our writing life should be much the same as my good Samaritan neighbor’s. He saw a need and met that need. Me especially, am too old to shovel out the neighborhood but there are tons of other needs. Perhaps it’s an encouraging little blurb for a church bulletin or an opinion piece in a local newspaper, or−a biggie−take time to write a review on a book we enjoyed, are small things but could make someone’s day.

When God impresses something on our spirit to write, we need to take note and obey. Perhaps it seems foolish, or simply doesn’t make sense, but that’s not our concern. God knows who needs to read what He’s impressed us to write. He chose us to be that messenger, just as he knew this little old grammy would have a difficult time shoveling my seemingly never-ending walkways and sent someone to do it for me.

February 18, 2018

Hope - Gloria Guest

*I share the following previously published blog post in keeping with this months topic on writing from the heart and how I choose to try to use my writing as a tool to encourage and uplift others from where I've been and where I'm headed.

With winter lingering I’ve been thinking  about a poem that I wrote quite awhile ago about the hope that I felt one year in finding the first crocus of spring. We need hope even more when it is nowhere in sight so even though winter is still with us and spring is still a ways off I’m going to share it. Some of you will recognize it as I’ve published it on my blog or Facebook before or perhaps I’ve sent it to you sometime when I hoped it would help you through something you were going through.
Signs of Life
Purple stems protruding from prairie earth
With snow still visible on the ground
A day when my heart seeks shelter and solace
How brave and fierce the Crocus is!
Not grown in potting shed or tended in gardeners plot
It’s undaunted courage inspires me and woos me
I cup them to my face
And inhale their fragrance of hope
While Creators breath midst prairie breeze
Surrounds my searching soul
During trying circumstance
Gloria Lynn Guest 2002
Spotting the first crocus of spring has always been to me the sign that spring has truly arrived. While it’s premature, I can always hope that spring is not too far away.
Hope is a small but mighty word.
It’s as strong as an anchor when the winds are blowing and the waves are crashing; the only thing we have left between us and death.
It’s as fragile as a flickering light in the window, placed there by a mother, wife or child of a soldier in a conflict far overseas, lighting the way home.
Hope is as gentle as a baby’s breath or as fierce as a battle cry.
The embers of hope can stir in the heart of one or two and catch fire across an entire nation  Yet hope can also appear in the form of the small purple crocus that bravely grows on a snowy hillside.
Without hope, men give up and die and with it, they find the strength and will to fight and live.
Hope doesn’t come in predictable ways but through the window of the unforeseen; it’s presence perhaps even going unnoticed until it’s all you see.
We don’t find hope. Hope finds us. It seeks us out in whatever circumstances we are in and whispers a question. Do you dare to hope?

Gloria seeks out the early Spring Crocus' on the sunny side of hills near her hamlet of Caron Sk., where she resides and also the hills of the farm near Hardy Sk., where she and her husband farmed and raised their two sons. She writes words of hope on her blog at gloriaguest.wordpress.com and also plugs away at writing her Memoir entitled Dandelions From Heaven - A Story of Hope & Healing
. Her blog and memoir deal with the not so easy topics of Childhood Trauma, Grief, Suicide, Depression and other life circumstances that she or those she has loved have faced. In her writing it  is her utmost desire to shine a light back for those who are coming behind while still seeking the light she needs to shine on her own path daily.

February 17, 2018

Hope to the Hopeless - Lynn Dove

When I wrote my first Y.A. novel, "Shoot the Wounded", I had two goals in mind: Become a published author and bringing Glory to God in the process.  I was purposeful in writing my book that any young person who read it, no matter their circumstances, would see that "hope" is found in the Person of Jesus Christ.

The themes in that book and later in the trilogy, were heavy ones for a teen and a young adult to process and deal with.  I incorporated themes into my books, such as teen pregnancy, cancer, grief and family violence, based on my many years of teaching and working with youth who were struggling with these societal issues.  Later, after my books were published, I began writing my blog to help promote my books, but soon discovered that people who started reading and then following my musings responded especially well to posts that contained encouraging scripture and anecdotes that pointed them towards God.  One posting in particular about Grief, that I wrote in 2013, after my daughter lost one of her friends in a horrific traffic accident, has since been viewed an average of 500 times daily!  People share heart-wrenching stories of loss in the comments section, looking for some comfort as they deal with the excruciating pain of losing someone dear to them.  Truly, I have been humbled by the response.  Even more humbling is the responsibility we have as writers to share our faith openly and honestly with people who need to hear The Good News!

As Christians here in Canada and in the United States in particular, we have been openly maligned and denigrated for our faith and belief.  Just last week on my Facebook page a man commented that "Christianity is based on falsehoods and fables, and only idiots would adhere to that religion."  Social media has become a gateway for all manners of attacks and persecution against us, but it also opens up a means for us to share openly with those who "hunger and thirst" for Truth.  (Matthew 5:6)  It is a great responsibility for us, as Christian writers, to boldly proclaim the Truth, no matter the opposition levelled against us.

 "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"  (Romans 8:31)

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Romans 8:38-39)

I want to send out a "shout out" to Connie Inglis, InScribe's prayer warrior.  I have benefited immeasurably by the many times she has sent me an email saying she has prayed a Scripture passage for me.  This always greatly encourages me in keeping me focused on my writing ministry.  Thanks, Connie for your faithfulness!  We need prayer as we face an often hostile world that opposes our message of hope to the hopeless. 

Lynn Dove is the award-winning author, of the YA “Wounded Trilogy”- a contemporary Christian fiction series with coming-of-age themes.  A wife, mom, grandmother, and free-lance writer with articles published in several magazines and anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her blog, “Journey Thoughts” is a Canadian Christian Writing Award winner.  Readers may connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and at lynndove.com