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.

March 23, 2023

Choices as the Chosen ~ Valerie Ronald

                                                                                                                                           image credit: Wallpaper Access
            

 The memory is vivid, of sitting tall in my desk in grade four, singing my heart out as my teacher walked up and down the rows listening for singers she thought good enough to join a choir. When she chose someone, she tapped on their desk. I did not receive a tap. After all these years I can still recall the disappointment of not being chosen. Now I know I am chosen, which makes all the difference.

God’s Chosen

I see our calling as Christian writers symbolized by an inverted triangle representing choices. The most important criterion begins with our position as chosen children of God. This is the broad top of the inverted triangle, from which all choices stem. Throughout His word God tells us that those who follow Him in faith are also chosen by Him. In the Old Testament, the Israelites were God’s chosen people from which the Messiah would come. With the new covenant instituted by Jesus, those who believe He is the Messiah, God’s Son, and accept Him as their Savior also become His chosen people, holy and dearly loved. (Col. 3:12 NIV) We are chosen but we also have the freedom to choose whether or not we accept Christ’s invitation to be one of His own. It sounds confusing, I know. The theology of election and predestination is a huge topic of study for another time.

Choosing Our Calling

When God “tapped on my desk” I already knew I wanted to write. The desire and aptitude was evident since I was young. I pursued education as a journalist and chose writing-related jobs. While raising my family I filled journals with musings and stories. Even before I knew God, He had already chosen how I would serve Him. It was a given that I chose to write for Him, because that is the desire He put in my heart before I was born.

Here the inverted triangle narrows to individual choice, guided and influenced by God. His Holy Spirit influenced my choice to be a writer. I am blessed with deep joy and satisfaction in the working out of my calling because His desire for me is also my desire.

“For we are His creative work, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we can do them.” (Eph. 2:10 NET)

Choices Within Our Calling

At a time when pursuing my writing seemed impossible, I recall praying for the circumstances I now enjoy. Long periods of uninterrupted time, resources and tools at my fingertips and encouragement from those who recognize my calling. Now comes the fun part where God gives me liberty to make choices within the parameters of being a Christian writer. To quote Ann of Green Gables, He has given me “scope for the imagination.” Prefaced by prayer, I listen for His voice in my spirit, prompting me to pursue topics, story ideas and projects that spark my imagination and suit my creative voice.

Now the inverted triangle narrows, pointing to specifics like markets, audiences, genres, topics, styles and word selection. This is where I feel like a child in a toy store ˗˗ so many wonderful choices! Having been a writer for many years, I find my ability to make good choices increasing with experience and self-education. God has given me a reasonable mind and a predisposition toward words, so I am constantly challenged to reflect Him in my choices.



        Wonderfully made, my days were chosen for God's book before one came to be

I am chosen by grace to be one of God’s people, holy and dearly loved

I choose to write because He created me to do good works

My choices reflect His Spirit at work in my life

Chosen by God, I choose to serve Him

with choice words

a channel for

Christ

 


   More of Valerie's work can be read on her blog:

     https://scriptordeus.wordpress.com/



March 22, 2023

The Creative Call - Book Review, by Lorrie Orr

 


For more than a quarter of a century, Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way has been a classic for people seeking to give voice to their creative bent. It's a useful and life-changing book, but misses one important aspect - the acknowledgement of a personal and creative God who empowers his people with his Spirit. 

Julia Elsheimer, in The Creative Call, names the God of the universe and acknowledges him directly as the source of creativity, particularly for a Christian artist. Each chapter is anchored with Scripture verses, and readers are encouraged to memorize the verses, something Elsheimer calls "word play." 

In the chapter "Listening" Elsheimer writes "This perception that art is an expression of something moving through us rather than from us is not limited to Christian artists, but Christians are likely to identify the feeling as the Holy Spirit manifesting himself through them. As you write in your daybook, pray that God will reveal himself to you through the words you write." Listening to the Spirit's call and trusting him in living out this call is the focus of the book. 

Throughout the book there are exercises related to Listening, Awakening, Forgiving, Breathing In, Breathing Out, and other chapter titles. I went through the book several years ago, and after pulling it off the bookshelf, I think I'll go through the exercises again. 

Elsheimer writes "If we have been given artistic gifts, the shape of our lives need to include the use of those gifts. God's gifts are not accident: 'Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows' (James 1:17)." 

The book ends with a collection of prayers from saints throughout the ages. I find them poignant and powerful as I thought about how people throughout time have the same longings and desires to connect with God. I have several written out and placed in my Bible for easy reference. Here is a portion of one written by Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536). 

Holy Spirit...
I beseech thee, maintain thy gifts in me,
and increase the things daily,
which thou hast vouchsafed to bestow upon me,
that by thy governance the lusts of the flesh may die
      more and more in me
and the desire of heavenly life more quicken and increase.
Let me so pass through the misty desert of this world 
by thy light going before me...


Lorrie Orr writes from Vancouver Island where she enjoys boating and hiking with her husband. Gardening, sewing, reading, and spending time with her five grandchildren fill her days with happiness and contentment. There is also the writing that always occupies a corner of her brain.

March 21, 2023

Calling NOT Comparison - by Tracy Krauss

COMPARISON - Don't play that game!

We've all fallen into the trap of comparing ourselves to other writers and usually, it only leads to discontent, discouragement, or even despair. (Too many D words for a post about C!)

So-and-so has more reviews... So-and-so has a larger email list... So-and-so has written more books.....has more followers, is more outgoing, knows more about marketing, writes faster, writes better, (INSERT whatever comparison makes you feel bad about yourself and your writing.)

Conversely, we must also be careful not to become puffed up. The comparison game is also very good at doing that. Just reverse the above comments and add a self-satisfied smirk... I have more reviews, more books in print, more followers... etc. Does that sound like a person God is going to bless?

I firmly believe that God has called me to write. (In fact, CALLING was my next "C' choice) I'm sure many of you feel the same. However, God has also impressed upon me that comparing myself to other writers is a dangerous pastime. Of course, we must learn from one another. That's not what I'm talking about. 

My writing journey has been different than yours. I've had to own my genre and subject matter which doesn't always fit neatly into the traditional Christian marketplace. I've come to terms with the fact that I may never be able to make a living through my writing. I will likely never have a huge following. But if I can touch one life, that is all God has called me to do. 

STOP comparing yourself to others.

START leaning into your CALL.


Tracy Krauss writes from her home in Tumbler Ridge, BC. For more, visit her website at:

https://tracykrauss.com

March 20, 2023

A Compassionate Community of Care by Alan Anderson

 


"Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:35 - 38 NIV

 

A Compassionate Community

 

Dear friends, you might consider this post to be an overreach, or one of my rambles, but here goes. While contemplating a "C" word for this post, I was drawn to words of comfort. Perhaps this contemplation of comfort words gives evidence of my soul's longing. A longing for peace. A longing for gentle and safe times. A longing for compassion and community.

 

 

After reading the messages of our other blog post writers, I decided on the following. InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship is a creative, compassionate community of writers who care. Although we are scattered geographical boundaries, we have a common foundation through our faith. We also share a common interest through the ministry of writing. As followers of Jesus Christ, we express His compassion, a capacity to express sorrow, for the helpless condition of other people.

 

We are called into a harassed and helpless world.

 

The constant barrage of tragedy, violence, and calamitous news of the world is too much to absorb. Even children are bombarded with the effects of sin pushed on them these days. I wonder to what depth they have been robbed of their innocence and trust in adults.

 

 

InScribe Writers compassionate community uses words to speak into the darkness of the world's heartbreak. This may seem like a tall order, but it can be done. We can do this together. We can do this!

 

 

Perhaps through your writing you have cried for the world. Well, my friends, like the words of mercy from Jesus, your tears are not wasted, neither are they sucked into a deep vortex of nothingness. Our sorrow, our words of mercy, beat with the heart of God.

 

 

If not for hope in God, where would we be? What would be the purpose of the words we write? Our words include the power to heal or harm. As a compassionate community of writers who are Christians, we choose to compose words of writers who care.

 

 

A Short Story

 

Some of you know I worked as a chaplain in healthcare for years. After retirement, I was left with memories of people I served. I wrote these memories into stories, with a hope of sharing them with others. I call these stories "Lessons from my Teachers." Here is one of these short stories from a personal encounter I was honoured to experience.

 

 

His Bible and Teddy Bear

 

I entered the room minutes after the old gentleman breathed his last. The room felt still. His wife held his hand as she stood by his bed and informed me, "he died just a few minutes ago". She then said in a quiet voice, "He's at peace now!" Such a tender and sacred moment to witness. She clasped something in her hands, and I saw it was his Bible. His Bible was to go in his coffin with him along with his favourite stuffed animal, a teddy bear. She said he would like this!

 

She seemed almost emotionless as she left the room and looked so fragile, as if at any second, she would break. I helped her carry his belongings and personal effects down the hallway of the care home.

 

A taxi was waiting outside. The driver greeted her with a smile and "how are you today?" She got into the cab without saying a word and waved to me as the taxi took her away. She was going home to make the arrangements. Family had to be called. Meetings with the funeral director would be in her near future. I remember what was important to her as she readied to say goodbye to her husband. She wanted to make sure that when he was placed in his casket, he wouldn't be alone. His Bible and his teddy bear would be with him! Such a poignant scene as this would be.

 

 

I know from personal experience; our stories can bring healing to people. Think of memories locked away in your memory and how these stories have the power to heal.

 

 



Searching Questions for our Calling

 

Do your words ever weep as you write? If they do, what do they teach you?

 

 

Lord Have Mercy

May we never lose our compassion for those harassed, helpless, and without the Shepherd. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.

 

 

Alan lives in Deroche, B.C. with his wife, Terry, and their poodle, Charlie. He contributed stories to Good Grief People by Angel Hope Publishing, 2017; Story by Story: The Power of a Writer, Unstoppable Writers Publishing, 2018; Easter Stories & More by InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, 2021. He is currently working on a book expressing the grief of grieving grandparents entitled “Hidden Poetic Voices: A Reflective Work of Grief, Faith, and Poetry.” Alan periodically writes articles for FellowScript Magazine. He has written posts for our InScribe blog since 2015. He recently volunteered to be the Writing Group Coordinator for InScribe. Blog: https://scarredjoy.ca.