May 26, 2022

What Makes My Heart Sing? - Bruce Atchison

 

 For me, there's nothing more important than truth. Our arch enemy knows it sets people free. Like Christ said in John 8:31 and 32 (Bible in Basic English), "Then Jesus said to the Jews who had faith in him, 'If you keep my word, then you are truly my disciples; And you will have knowledge of what is true, and that will make you free.'"

Being able to know the truth also helps us resist the Devil and cling to Christ. As Peter admonished his readers in 1 Peter 5:8 and 9, "Be serious and keep watch; the Evil One, who is against you, goes about like a lion with open mouth in search of food; Do not give way to him but be strong in your faith, in the knowledge that your brothers who are in the world undergo the same troubles."

Old Testament worshippers also felt the wonder of God's holy law. Psalm 119:165 exclaims, "Great peace have lovers of your law; they have no cause for falling."

Falling is what causes people to turn from the truth. We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, "Now as to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our meeting with him, it is our desire, my brothers, That you may not be moved in mind or troubled by a spirit, or by a word, or by a letter as from us, with the suggestion that the day of the Lord is even now come; Give no belief to false words: because there will first be a falling away from the faith, and the revelation of the man of sin, the son of destruction, Who puts himself against all authority, lifting himself up over all which is named God or is given worship; so that he takes his seat in the Temple of God, putting himself forward as God."

We can depend fully on what the Holy Spirit inspired the scripture writers to write. As Jesus said in John 17:17, "Make them holy by the true word: your word is the true word."

So important is God's word that Jesus quoted it when tempted by the Devil. Matthew 4:4 records, "But he made answer and said, 'It is in the Writings, Bread is not man's only need, but every word which comes out of the mouth of God.'"

May you always remain in the truth.

May 25, 2022

You'll find me in my Words - Gloria Guest

The first poem I wrote was at the age of seven for my father. I poured out my love for him in my attempt at a father’s day card. When I was eight I wrote a poem for my mother. It was something about her smiling face, cheerful ways, helping me with my weed collection (ha-ha), and how to ‘housewife’ when I grew up. Those two poems were the buds from which my love for writing would grow. From there I wrote short stories for my language classes throughout school and learned that I loved to write. Finding my voice through writing made my heart sing.

In grade twelve, I wrote a story for a competition that centred on a small town in Saskatchewan. It was a fictional story but contained elements of my experience of living there for a few weeks when I was a young teenager. I was surprised when I placed first in Alberta for my entry. Looking back though, I think I can see what the judges saw. I had stepped into the pages of that story with all of my vulnerabilities and teenage angst shining forth. I had been unceremoniously ‘transplanted’ from a serene, quaint, southern Ontario town with all the amenities that I was used to, to a middle of nowhere, dusty hamlet on the prairies, and to make it even more absurd to a soon to be fourteen year old, our house had no indoor plumbing! I was convinced that I had stepped into a time warp and was never coming out! Yet, without writing about those actual horrors, you can feel them hanging in the lines between the story. I’m walking between my words; my transplanted yet refusing to be rooted soul.

As an adult I took on the role of reporter for a local newspaper, a dream I'd had since I'd graduated. I loved all aspects of it, especially the building of a story from the interviews that I did. I also wrote lifestyle columns for various newspapers where I had free reign to play out parts of myself, sharing every day, yet thought-provoking pieces, usually with snippets of humour woven in. I revelled in writing those columns and when someone mentioned something I’d said, my heart sang a song of happiness.

I write poetry still. I’ve found it a lovely and practical tool to express some of my deepest thoughts, hurts and experiences from my life. Each word has to be carefully crafted to mean something and earn its spot. In the process, one has to pay close attention to the carriage of emotions, and how to translate them best. It may look simple on a scrap of paper, sparsely typed in four or five stanzas but it’s a carving out of the heart for me. When I finally sit back, the rythm of the poem is played back for me, like a song. 

I also write memoir. It’s in this genre that I journey back into my past, gaining new perspectives, and mining areas of my life that I’d never seen before for new insight; it’s where I grow the most as a person and as a writer. It’s also here that vulnerability becomes so important; there is no well-written memoir without an exposing of one’s soul. And it’s an invitation; in the hopes of being a little more known and helping my reader to get to know themselves just a little more too.

My heart can be found in all of my writing in some way or fashion. And I’m grateful for each reader who meanders with me through my pathway of words.

 


Gloria writes from Caron, Sk; a small hamlet on the prairies. Along with many published articles andcolumns in various newspapers, she enjoys writing fiction, creative-non fiction, poetry and memoir. Currently she is working on a small poetry booklet about Saskatchewan, along with taking editing classes from Simon Fraser University.

May 24, 2022

The First Twig ~ Valerie Ronald

                                                                           
                                                                                                                                   painting by Peter Ward ©

In a tree just outside my living room window, a pair of blue jays is nesting. I watch them flitting about the branches of the sturdy cedar for a few days. They bring twigs and bits of string, even a shoelace, to tuck into a three-branched crook of the tree until a nest takes shape. They can’t see me on the other side of the glass but I have a birds-eye view of their homemaking. Eventually they take turns sitting on their eggs and soon I hope to see baby blue jays peeping over the edge of the nest.

I marvel at how God perfectly designed my blue jay neighbors to seek out a safe, hidden place to build a nest. Although it looks rickety, their nest withstands some strong winds and rains, so they chose well. They had the urge to create a nest, and so began with a single twig. Watching them reminds me of my writing process, especially the formative stage of a new project.

That moment ˗˗ that first “twig”, is what makes my heart sing as a writer ˗˗ the instant when my imagination is caught by a what if.

What if ˗˗ someone’s life is changed when they take up residence in an old church?  

What if ˗˗ the daffodil farm where I used to walk is the setting where an old heart wound is healed?

What if ˗˗ my husband’s worn leather work glove is a picture of a life filled with the Holy Spirit?

What if ˗˗ God is asking me to write my own life story, even the painful parts, so others may learn about Him?

Without that initial moment of God-given inspiration, I could not put a single word on a page. Whether I am seeking a theme for an assigned writing project or just sending out my writer’s radar for new ideas, when the moment hits, I know it. I feel an almost physical jolt of energy, or the proverbial light bulb flashing on, when God gifts me with a new writing idea. I even have a name for such a phenomenon. A shining moment.  

After decades of writing, I have developed my own writer’s eye, or way of looking at and experiencing aspects of life around me as a potential writing subject. How can I incorporate that little girl’s laugh I overhear into a playground scene? Is there a new way to describe the autumn foliage I enjoy every year? How does a prairie thunderstorm mirror turmoil in a character?

Since fresh inspiration is important to me as a writer, then I must actively look for those shining moments. I must “listen to the silence, stay open to the voice of the Spirit”, as Madeleine L’Engle wrote.1 That is my part of the process. God’s part is to touch the creative portion of my brain with new inspiration. When the two parts come together, my heart sings in anticipation of the creative process and my mind races ahead to how it will develop. 

The work of writing is dependent on the original inspiration, the first “twig” placed in the tree to create a home out of words. Then begins the laborious process of building on the original idea. I propose that God sparks me with joy when He gifts me with new inspiration so that the energy from that initial spark will carry me through the hard work to completion. He makes my heart sing with creative passion, as only He can. I like to think I make His heart sing too, when I hatch original stories to offer the world.   

“All of us who have given birth to a story know that it is ultimately mystery, closely knit to God’s own creative activities which did not stop at the beginning of the universe. God is constantly creating, in us, through us, with us, and to co-create with God is our human calling. It is the calling for all of us, His creatures, but it is perhaps more conscious with the Christian artist.” - Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water


1Walking On Water, Madeleine L’Engle, Harold Shaw Pub. 1980


 

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

https://wordpress.scriptordeus.com/

May 23, 2022

Writing that Makes My Heart Sing


 

Slice of life: a story about a small segment of one's day, a poem that tells about a small moment in time, a collection of words and photos that describes a scenario

Slice of life perfectly describes the writing that makes my heart sing. I've loved writing my blog Fabric Paper Thread since 2007. Along the way since then I've written and published articles, begun a book or two, created hundreds of lesson plans, and struggled with writing essays in English and French for my B.A. I've learned so much and have truly enjoyed writing of all sorts. 

But...writing the little stories of my life is what charms me most. These might be short interactions with strangers, mental notes taken while out and about, or sweet anecdotes about my grandchildren. My current large writing project is the story of our family's years in Ecuador (21 of them!) and of God's faithfulness to us. 

I love writing about nature, and combining words with images captured on my camera. I write in a most unscientific way about my observations on the wonders of creation - what goes on in my garden, or in the geographies I visit. 

I love to write the kinds of things I love to read - mysteries (they are hard to write), poetry, vignettes about food and home-keeping, stories of the past and the present. 

As I string words together, I am always cognizant of the presence of Christ guiding my writing, and yet much of my writing is not overtly Christian. C. S. Lewis writes "We needn't all write patently moral or theological work. Indeed, work whose Christianity is latent may do quite as much good and may reach some whom the more obvious religious work would scare away. The first business of a good story is to be a good story." Blog readers occasionally write me private emails to ask for prayer, or to comment on my faith and how they hope for more faith in their own lives. 

In my collected quotations, this one, by L. M. Montgomery in Anne's House of Dreams, where Anne is conversing with Gilbert, perhaps describes my favourite writing projects best,

"I'd like to add some beauty to life, said Anne dreamily.
I don't exactly want to make people know more...
I'd love to have them have a more pleasanter time
because of me...to have some little joy
or happy thought that would never have existed
if I hadn't been born."



Lorrie Orr writes from Vancouver Island where she enjoys boating and hiking with her husband. Gardening, reading, sewing, and spending time with her five grandchildren fill her days when she isn't teaching Spanish at a local high school. She also writes a "slice of life" blog at www.fabricpaperthread.blogspot.com


 



May 20, 2022

Stories Make My Heart Sing by Tracy Krauss



My heart sings when I'm writing fiction. There. I've answered this month's question, so I guess I can go back to my latest story now.

Just kidding, of course. I won't leave it at that without further explanation. As a person who writes in a variety of genres, I generally enjoy the writing process, no matter the project. I blog, I write articles, I dabble in devotionals... If I didn't enjoy these pursuits, I doubt I would do them. There have been times when one of the aforementioned pieces felt burdensome, though, but I persevered through the project because I believed it had value, not necessarily because it made me "happy". 

However, I can say without hesitation that my favorite thing--the thing that makes my heart sing--is getting lost in a story. 

I've been known to laugh out loud (literally) at my own jokes or smile at a particularly clever piece of dialogue that comes out of a character's mouth. Cliche aside, I actually do lose track of time as I clack away. Sometimes I feel annoyed by the realities of life that keep me from my made-up world which often feels just as real. I've been known to stay up half the night working on a stage play or get up in the wee hours to write down the perfect line. It's why I LOVE November and Nanwrimo. It's the perfect excuse to let my imagination fly! 

I started writing consistently when my eldest daughter was just a baby. She's turning 37 this summer, so that gives you some idea how long I've been clacking at the keys. However, I got lost in my own head long before that, composing make-believe worlds in scrapbook form through pictures and snippets of dialogue ever since I could hold a pencil. As a youngster, I mostly drew. Rarely did I ever NOT draw, even on vacation. I realized later that these were all actually stories or characters from stories that I was reenacting in my head. In school, I did write my first play when I was in Grade Four, and later in high school, my English teacher encouraged me to attend a writing camp. But it wasn't until I was a young mom that I started to write in earnest. I haven't stopped.

Sometimes I wonder if there is a point to all this writing; all these stories. Fiction is just fluff, right? Well, I believe fiction can have a real impact on those who read it--maybe as much or more as a factual book. 

If I had to, I could give up writing non-fiction pieces like blog posts, articles, and the like. But fiction? I know I will never quit as long as I have the strength and there are stories bursting to emerge from my mind. Writing fiction makes my heart sing!


Tracy Krauss writes from her home in Tumbler Ridge, BC. Visit her website for more on her many novels, short stories, stage plays -- and non-fiction, too! https://tracykrauss.com