March 31, 2023

The Cross of Christ -- by Mary Folkerts

 



A Christian author’s writing is decidedly influenced by their belief system. Following the teachings of Christ means holding to an upside-down worldview that may seem outrageous to those who don’t understand the story of sin and redemption. Everything we write and the message we bring comes from living in the shadow of the cross. 


Because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice for us, He has become our identity and the message of hope we share comes from our position in Him. 


Come, let us gather beneath the shadow of the cross…




In the Shadow of the Cross

                                                         

When Jesus,
the King of heaven,  
the designer of the galaxies,
begged his Father for 
another way
creation must have held 
it’s collective 

breath.


For more than the nails

piercing His flesh

more than the 

thorns

thrust on His head,

He glimpsed the darkness

of hell

and staggered under 

its weight.


For in the shadow of 

the cross

He perceived how

taking the shame 

of my sin

upon Himself

meant absolute separation 

from God. 


“Yet not my will, 

but Thine be done,” 

prayed the perfect Son of God

as in anguish, He foresaw 

the Father turn His face

away.

The wrath for my sin,

the cup poured out on 

Him

the sin of the world

transferred

onto His shoulders,

alone,

His agony 

for my saving.


And while his grief 

and anguish

at what looms before Him,

fall like drops of blood

from his face,

we sleep in 

nonchalance.


For we do not 

perceive 

nor can we perceive

of the hell He tasted 

In our place

complete darkness,

alone,

devoid of God.

For holiness can not 

abide sin.

 

We have never known 

the complete absence 

of God

for His fingerprint is 

always present–

in the sunrise,

in the cry of a newborn, 

in our very breath–

even when we don’t see

even when we are too

distracted 

with ourselves

to look 

for Him.


Were God to remove Himself

from us 

to turn His face from us

for even a moment,

we would know 

hell.

For hell is where God 

is not,

the emptiness would 

be more than we 

could endure.


And yet, for the joy set before Him

the Son of Man fixed His gaze 

beyond the shadow of 

the cross, 

beyond the scorn, 

beyond the grief,

beyond the mocking,

my mocking– “If you are the 

Christ – save yourself!”

I didn’t see 

that He was saving

me.


And still, the cross throws its shadow 

over me

covering me, 

erasing the guilt I bring.

His grief for my freedom

His pain for my 

healing.

The holy exchange

the wrath my sin deserved

placed on Him, 

the sinless 

One.


In the shadow of the cross

the curtain torn 

in two

a way made for sinful man

to access God most 

Holy.

Only through the blood of the 

One who hung dying,

Jesus, the

rejected, 

crucified, 

and resurrected 

Christ

do we find the power 

to live

in the shadow of 

the cross.


The cross throws its shadow over 

my path,

pointing me in the way I 

should go

It is my roadmap, 

my due north.

My life a thank offering

to Him who gave His

everything

for me.


I live in the shadow of the cross

It has become my identity 

the holy sacrifice,

that the blameless Son of God

would deem me worthy

to be abandoned for,

to be scorned for,

to die for.

He has become my identity

the One I will 

live for.



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 https://maryfolkerts.com/  or follow on Instagram www.instagram.com/maryfolkerts  

 

March 26, 2023

C is for Crunch Time - Gloria Guest

Crunch Time. Deadline. Both bring alternate feelings of dread and an adrenaline rush for me. You'd think by now, dread would have won out, and I'd have retrained myself into being a writer of discipline with marked off times and dates on my calendar, of when I'm going to dutifully write and meet my deadline in advance. But no, I continue to live in the writer's world of frenzy, where I have been known to wait until the last possible moment to whip something off and just screech past the deadline in the nick of time. 

It's always been who I am. I flourish in a deadline driven environment, like the newspapers I've written for, as both reporter and columnists. And the argument that my work would be better if I did it sooner, is not always or even usually, correct for me. The stress of the deadline seems to bring out my best writing.  I once wrote an award winning story in high school, the night before it was due. That is how I've always seemed to write my best; last  minute, by the seat of my pants and with a looming deadline hanging over my head. I said, 'usually,' not always. Sometimes I bomb. But one of the reasons that I think this way works for me, is that while I may 'look' like I'm writing nothing (which technically I am) all those days and weeks leading up to the deadline, I'm actually forming it all in my head. I then sit down and let it spill out on to the page. 

But I'm not saying that I think this is best for everyone or that there aren't times that sticking to this sort of haphazard writing routine always brings out the best results for me, when talking about other areas of writing. For instance, although I don't recall ever missing a deadline at the newspapers, I have missed other deadlines; such as for this blog or for a contest. Usually they were missed for extenuating last minute circumstances, and so I knew that if I had instead written them earlier, which goes so completely against my writer's nature, that I wouldn't have missed it. So this has caused me to reflect on some of the ways I can perhaps make smaller changes or shifts, without messing too much with my seeming need of an ever inching closer deadline to inspire me.

A few ideas for myself and any other Crunch Time Writers out there:

-When we do feel in the right head space to write, even if it's just for a few minutes, sit down and write, even just a few lines. This way some of those thoughts swimming around in our heads won't get lost. It happens. And it's maddening.

-Write down the deadline in bold print somewhere we will see it often. That way it will 'loom' in front of us daily (hourly even) and possibly motivate us to start writing, just a little bit sooner. It'll also keep us from forgetting.

-Try setting an earlier version of the deadline. Trick our brains. That will ensure that last minute emergencies won't leave us, and editors or publishers, hanging. And us hanging our heads in shame.

-Ask a friend/co-writer to be an accountability partner who will check in with us and gently nudge us with a question of how our writing is coming with that approaching deadline. And don't bite their heads off for asking.

-A must for me seems to be to be a part of a writing course or group or some other outside stimulation, that requires me to meet a writing deadline regularly. Even if I have a lot of extra time, without that outside support, I languish in my head for far too long. That's where the dread comes in.

I truly do admire all of the writers who are so much more disciplined than I am. I think it's proved out that they get a lot more writing accomplished than I do.

But alas, I'm still a Crunch Time writer....this blog is being written the day before it's due, a little earlier than usually actually! So there's hope. I can make some shifts here and there and maybe, just maybe, I won't miss that next contest or blog deadline.

Happy Crunch Time (with a few shift changes) to my fellow deadline loving writers!

Gloria Guest writes from the little hamlet of Caron, Sk., where she lives with her husband Reg (when he's not on the road driving semi) and cat, Tigger.  She is a mother of two sons and five grand-children, whom she considers her greatest joy. Her genres include memoir, fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry. She is a previously published newspaper reporter of thousands of articles and a past newspaper columnist, with hopes to take up writing a column again sometime soon. She has a few other published pieces, some in Inscribe anthologies and she has studied editing at both the U of T and Simon Fraser.                                              

March 24, 2023

C is for Community ~ Guest Post by Barbara Fuller

 They say it takes a village to raise a child. Likewise, it takes a community to develop a writer. We may think of the solitary writer, sequestered in a room with the door closed, scratching away on the page. Perhaps many of us begin that way.

But as with most human undertakings, writers are not exempt from the need for interaction with others. Not just for affirmation but also for motivation, stimulation, information and collaboration. That’s why organizations such as InScribe exist—because together we can do more and in the company of others we can do better.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

In my na├»ve self-confidence, I thought I was a decent writer. Then I went to a writers’ conference at which one could submit a piece for “blue pencil review.” I have to admit I was a bit surprised by how many blue pencil marks suggested room for improvement on my piece. A touch of humility gave me a new openness to learn more about the craft of writing.

I wrote my first book – a Bible study –  with the collaboration and support of a colleague. Together we planned the format and outline. I could run by her my ideas, inspired moments and uncertainties. That collaboration enriched my writing.

The second writers’ conference I attended included a breakout option called “Freefall.” Curious, I signed up and discovered a whole new kind of fun. The leader gave us an open-ended phrase, then set a timer for 2 minutes in which we were to carry on writing the story. My imagination was stimulated. Not only that, I was fascinated by the varied directions in which participants had gone with their word-crafting.

Some time later, a friend mentioned that she was thinking of starting a writing group. “I’m in!” was my immediate response. Now every month we gather on Zoom and share the stories we have written based on a given prompt. We take turns choosing the prompt. Our stated purpose is not to critique but to affirm and encourage one another. We share our stories, pieces of our lives and unique ways of approaching the same subject. Motivation to write is strong when you have a group interested in hearing what you have prepared.

I live on my own and even though my dog is a good listener, he is not great at feedback. I need someone to be a sounding board in the creative process. I envy writers who have a spouse to listen to their ruminations and processing of ideas as they go along.

At some point on the path to publication we will need beta readers (another thing I learned about from other writers), editors, publishers and printers. But even before that, for the art and process of writing itself we need a community. Whether you find yourself a writing buddy, join a writing group, sign up for a workshop or writing course, or attend a conference, your craft will be enriched by sharing the journey with a community of like-minded pilgrims.


Barbara Fuller, a native of Nova Scotia, has been writing since she was a teenager. Now living in BC, she is currently working on her fifth book in the Inlight Bible Studies series. Barb enjoys her six grand-darlings, music, books, languages, traveling, and walking on beaches, preferably with her dog Toby. Find her books and her blog at Barbara Fuller.