November 28, 2023

Keep track! by Mary Folkerts


Reminder to self: (for those days when the blank screen taunts me with its wordless stare).

First of all, don't be so hard on yourself! You may have temporarily forgotten some basic truths, so here they are again. 

It's not uncommon to feel like the wifi has been disconnected and the words have fled your mind. It doesn't mean you should give up and hand in your resignation as a member of the "We Are Writers" club. Keep pushing through. There will be days when the words come easy but also seasons of drought where creativity and fresh ideas are hard to find. 

Okay, but I'm feeling uninspired at the moment, and I need to write something!

I have a deadline looming, and it feels like I'm trying to squeeze grape juice from raisins!

Deep breath! For days such as this, here are a few reminders and tips: 

  1. Use your notes app on your iPhone to keep track of ideas as they come to you. Some of your best words come at the most inopportune times, such as in the middle of a church service or just as you're on the edge of sleep. Don't let them slip away; instead, make a quick note of them for another day. Don't count on your memory to store it for you. Many great ideas have been lost in oblivion that way.
  2. Spend time reading God's word and in prayer. This alone can blow up any writer's block, for our time with God never leaves us unaffected if we listen and wait for him to speak into our lives. Keep track of the truths He impresses on your heart, for a double blessing is realized as you are renewed and given the words to encourage others! It may be possible that the writing wilderness you're experiencing has to do with the fact that you have not been watering your soul with the promises of God. 
  3. Throughout your day, you are constantly encountering people and situations that can be used as illustrations of truths. You need to keep your eyes open for such moments. For example, the time when a bird flew into your window, and you had a front-row seat to what happens when you go through life not paying attention. Again, keep track of these little happenings (refer back to the notes app!) so you can share them with others. 
  4. Read other author's work. See how they string words together that fire your imagination. Of course, don't copy their ideas, but their ideas can inspire your own. Use your experiences in life to colour your words. Let your personality come out in your writing.
  5. Go back to your documents and read through old words you have written. Congratulate yourself on the well-written piece and learn from the "what was I thinking?" ones. How could you rewrite it to make it better? Or maybe you could shorten or pull out paragraphs to create a new article. Your old written words can inspire new ideas. 
  6. Keep track of quotes from well-known authors and speakers that resonate with you. If you use social media, create a sticky statement using the quote (always give credit to whoever the quote belongs to) and a photo you have taken. Use the free version of the Canva app for this. These quotes can also awaken your creative juices to new inspired words.

If you keep track of inspired words and ideas, you have material to prompt your next writing.

If you keep track of the many blessings and ways God continually pours into your life, you have much material ready to be shared. 

Mary Folkerts is mom to four kids and wife to a farmer, living on the southern prairies of Alberta, where the skies are large and the sunsets stunning. She is a Proverbs 31 ministries COMPEL Writers Training member and is involved in church ministries and music. Mary’s personal blog aims to encourage and inspire women and advocate for those with Down Syndrome, as their youngest child introduced them to this extraordinary new world. For more inspiration, check out Joy in the Small Things  

November 23, 2023

K is for Stillness by Michelle Strutzenberger


Photo by my son, Micah Strutzenberger (2022).

As a member of the alphabet that occasionally “keeps it mouth shut,” so to speak, the letter K reminds us that sometimes it is better to choose stillness.

Several Bible verses support this choice. Psalm 46:10 is just one. “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.”

How can stillness lead to a knowledge of God? And then, by extension, to an exaltation of Him?

The most basic definition of stillness is the absence of movement or sound.

If we are seeking to be still in order to know that God is God, we may need to pause from our chores, socializing, exercise, and entertaining.

We might sink onto the sofa with a cup of hot tea and warm blanket. Or we might head out into the countryside for a stride down gravel roads (I realize this involves movement, but wouldn’t you agree that, if done in the right spirit, walking can allow for stillness in our minds?).

As we cease from productivity, we might ask ourselves some questions. Here are just a few that have come to me as I’ve been reflecting on this passage. You will notice these questions are very much linked to my personal experience of God’s goodness. I, of course, do not believe this is always the best way to answer a question about who God is. The best thing we can do is point to Scripture. But sometimes we need the very personal, very individualized reminder of how God has been, and is, and will be at work in our lives:

1.  What specific thing has God done in my life in the past that shows He is worthy of being exalted? I could write a bunch here, but, just briefly, I am reminded of how He carried me through grief after the death of my twin when we were 21. Even today, I am humbly mystified as to how I coped at all with her death, and so can only say it was Him. In ways I cannot fully explain to this day, He helped me through those months and years of anguish.

2.  What specific thing is God doing now in my life that shows He is worthy of being exalted? He keeps rescuing me from myself as I struggle to cope with a painful family problem. I want to escape the pain – run away, numb it, find someone to blame and lash out. And sometimes I do fall into those wrong, destructive responses, until I realize they’re only making things worse, and I cry out to Him. Of course, He always helps – from sending someone to encourage me to giving me the mysterious gift of peace to clearly showing me a small next step. I just need to remember to ask Him for help first, rather than turning to all my rotten alternatives.

3   What specific thing could God do in my life in the future that would show He is worthy of being exalted? Well, of course, none of us knows the future. But one thing I can count on is that He will carry me across this current sea of pain to the other shore. I can trust that this current sea is not a universe. Someday this pain will end. There will be reprieve. Yes, I may face more seas of pain in my life. But I can rest in knowing that for each one, He will be there. He will help me across -- until I finally wade onto the final shore of glorious eternity with Him.

The next time you run across a silent “K,” maybe consider, “Have I taken time lately for the kind of stillness that leads me to exalt God ?”

I hope this encourages you today in some small way, dear fellow writers of the faith.


Michelle and her family enjoy hiking mountains and trails together. She is currently sharing a series called, What Growing Up in a Mennonite Family of 10 Taught Me About Survival.


When God Comes Knocking ~ Valerie Ronald

                                                                      copyright Warner Press, Inc

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:20 NKJV)  

The classic depiction of Jesus knocking on a door, painted by Warner Sallman, is rich with symbolism. Its subject is based on Revelation 3:20, in which Christ addressed the lukewarm church in Laodicea. This verse is also an illustration of Christ’s invitation to us to open our heart’s door and let Him in. In the painting, thorny brambles represent sin reaching to entangle, and an opening in the door reveals darkness within, yet allows the one inside to see who is at the door. More subtle is the absence of any outside knob or handle, indicating that the door of the heart must be opened to Christ from within. He will not force His way inside. Yet He continues to stand at the door˗˗knocking, announcing His presence, waiting for our hearts to open to Him so we can have close communion together.

This painting resonates with me because I’ve always been fascinated with doors. I see a door as having a face, a visage, which either beckons to be opened or keeps secrets locked up behind it. I collect pictures of doors because they engage my imagination with their possibilities.

Think of the symbolism of doors in well-known children’s literature. Behind a simple wardrobe door, three children discover the magical world of Narnia, in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and become royalty in that kingdom. In The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett tells of a concealed door to a hidden garden providing a portal to healing and restoration. And with the sharp rap of a wizard’s staff on the round, green door of his hobbit hole, Bilbo Baggins is whisked away on a journey beyond his imagination, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

Doors represent new possibilities, thresholds to adventure, and sometimes long-kept secrets. When someone knocks on a closed door, they are never certain what will be revealed upon opening. I have stood before many symbolic doors in my lifetime, facing the unknown beyond. One thing I have learned is that not every door is meant to be opened.

In my childhood, my heart yielded readily to the gentle knock of Jesus Christ, offering His gift of salvation. But that door swung in the breeze between my selfish pursuits and the false idea that I could nip through it anytime I needed some help. By my own strength I wrenched open the door to an unsuitable marriage, even though a “Do Not Enter” sign was clearly posted. Many times I wanted to retrace my steps, but now I see that painful journey was meant to bring me to another threshold, the place where I not only opened the door wider, I bowed in surrender before the Lord of Glory, who had never ceased knocking. When I truly welcomed Christ into all aspects of my life, it was as if a fresh breeze swept through the open door of my heart, redeeming all the messes I had made. 

In my youth I heard the insistent knocking of what turned out to be a calling to write. I did not recognize it as a calling then˗˗I thought it was just something I enjoyed doing. Not until later, when He sought me out at my heart’s door, did I realize that it was a gift meant to glorify the Giver.

Christ not only comes knocking at our door, He also instructs us to ask, seek and knock ourselves.  “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Mt. 7:7-8 NIV)  

Jesus’ instructions do not mean we can demand from God whatever we want. Within the context of the Sermon on the Mount, He is telling us the help we need to carry out its imperatives must be asked for and will be supplied by our Father in heaven. His door is always unlocked for those who believe. Beyond the opened door are resources Christian writers are privileged to access by asking, seeking, and knocking. Our writing life needs to be intrinsically reliant on the guidance of God’s Word and His Holy Spirit if our words are to impact others for His kingdom.

Like a house with many rooms, our heart has multiple doors, some we may be reluctant to open to Jesus. He knocks because He desires to bring His fresh, cleansing presence into that closed-up room, but He will never push in. When we respond to His knock by opening the door, He promises us warm fellowship with Him, like family around the dinner table˗˗a beautiful picture of union with our Savior. 

Valerie Ronald writes from an old roll top desk in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, with her tortoiseshell cat for a muse. A graduate of Langara College School of Journalism, she writes devotionals, fiction and inspirational prose. Her purpose in writing is to encourage others to grow in their spiritual walk.

November 22, 2023

Write What You Know - or Don't Know by Lorrie Orr


Advice given to writers is often "write what you know." How dull that seems when taken at face value. Life seems so ordinary. Who would want to read about the day to day life of a teacher, or a carpenter or a plumber? 

I'm currently reading a memoir What Comes Next and How to Like It a book by Abigail Thomas. When faced with a roadblock in writing a friend told her, "It seems to me," he emailed me later, "that you start out with what you know or what you think you know and you work within those 'truthful' boundaries until you reach some sort of wilderness of not knowing, and then you find a way through until you see an end, or you find a way through until you find the end that you've already seen." 

That paragraph inspired me to search for what other writers say about the advice "Write what you know." 

Nathan Englander says that it's about emotion. "Why do we love (those books) we love, why do they change us, why do they touch our hearts, why do they hold so much meaning? Because they are truer than truth; because there is a great knowing within them...Like, have you known happiness? Have you ever been truly sad? Have you ever longed for something?...That's the idea: if you've known longing you can write longing. And that's the knowing behind 'write what you know.'

Kazuo Ishiguro is more blunt: " "Write what you know" is the most stupid thing I've heard. It encourages people to write a dull biography. It's the reverse of firing the imagination and potential of writers."

Paula Fox says, "Now, I was very careful not to tell my students to only write about what you know, because I couldn't define what they knew. That's where the question really begins. How to define what you know."

Dan Brown counters with 'write what you want to know.' "I feel like, it is so difficult to stay intellectually engaged for a year or two in a subject. You should write something that you need to go and learn about." 

P.D. James counters with "You absolutely should write about what you know. There are all sorts of small things you should store up and use, nothing is lost to a writer. You have to learn to stand outside yourself. All experience, whether it is painful or whether it is happy is somehow stored up and sooner or later it's used." 

To sum up:

Write what you know.

Write what you feel.

Write what you want to know.

Mine your life.

Lorrie Orr writes from Vancouver Island. 

November 21, 2023

Know and Be Known - Tracy Krauss

It is a wonderful thing to “know and be known” in the context of human relationships. When you can truly let your guard down without fear and make yourself vulnerable to someone else, knowing they will love and value you despite your flaws… well, that’s something beautiful. 

Bosom buddies, soulmates, kindred spiritsAllison Lynn talked about it already this month in her post. She noted, “When we start to see other creators as kindred spirits, and not as competition, we find freedom from the shackles of jealousy and bitterness.” Such powerful words!

Sharing our inner thoughts can be a scary prospect. It requires a certain amount of “letting your guard down” and certainly makes one vulnerable. We are exposing ourselves to the world with the knowledge that there are risks. We might even get hurt. Not everyone is going to love our stories, our style, or our opinions. Some might even be cruel in their criticism. I suppose you could say this is the “being known” part. If I want people to actually read what I’ve written, these are risks I must take.

However, we must also “know” what our calling is and be secure in that. That’s why I believe a certain amount of introspection is necessary for every writer. It helps us focus on what we are called to do, not just follow the latest trend. As Allison said, I can celebrate other writers while following my own unique path.

I love what Tandy Balson shared at a meeting recently when she said it is easy to second-guess ourselves, especially when things don’t turn out as we’d imagined. We might ask, “Did I hear God wrong?” However, “Hurdles are not stop signs!” (A direct quote from Tandy!) Obstacles can actually help us grow and mature, as long as we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. 

If God has called you to be a writer, then rest in the knowledge that He has a plan and purpose for your life that is GOOD. Ultimately, we must also “know” our own worth as a child of God. Our worth doesn’t come from our writing or anything else we do. It comes from the simple truth that He created us in His image, and that is enough.

“…you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God…” Galatians 4:9

Tracy Krauss writes from her home in Tumbler Ridge, BC. Visit her website: