February 26, 2010

Navigating the Conference by Kimberley Payne

The Inscribe Spring WordShop Conference is coming up again soon (March 19, 20). In light of this, I’d like to repost an article I wrote some years ago (First printed in Exchange Newsletter April 2005) that I feel is still relevant today:

As I left the conference, I got lost and was sinking into a panic. “I’m on Bloor Street, heading east, in a traffic jam. The DVP is closed. Help!” The calm voice on the other end of the line guided me in the right direction. From his comfortable chair at home, my husband knew the roads of Toronto like his own shoe size.

I recognized that same panic at home when I looked at my pile collected from the conference.

By taking simple steps, you will be able to navigate yourself without getting lost.


· Pray. Earnestly pray for yourself and all others involved in the conference.

· Prepare ahead of time. Give thought to what you want to get out of the conference. I pore over the brochure.

Would you like to learn about a specific writing technique? Choose workshops to meet this goal; have backup choices.

Want to meet with an editor? Review the faculty biographies for those who fit your area of interest, and plan to make an appointment with at least one.

Hope to network with other writers? Develop a list of questions to discuss, and psych yourself up talk to everyone you can, not just to those you know.


· Pray. Be in fervent prayer throughout the conference, and pray for a teachable spirit.

· Collect freebies. Carry a bag to gather sample publications, writer’s guidelines, handouts and books.

· Mark business cards. On the back of the card, jot what you discussed with the cardholder, the date, and the conference.

· Sit by yourself. This allows you to focus on the presenter and not miss important information while chatting with a friend.

· Highlight main points. The pile of notes can grow heavy, and important points can be easily lost. Take a highlighter to underline the significant points for easy reference.

· Asterisk actions. Put an asterisk beside each idea that you must take action on later. Once home, label a blank piece of paper with, “To do – Conference Title – Date” and filter through all conference material, seeking out the asterisks.

· Colour Website addresses. Use a coloured pen to write important Website addresses. At home, add them to your “favourites.”

· Ask questions. Now is not the time to be shy. Participate in discussions and ask questions. Chances are someone else will be grateful that you had the courage to ask.


· Pray. Pray for guidance, because the real work begins when the conference is over.

· Write an encouraging note to all who blessed you at the conference.

· Organize your pile of conference goodies soon, while everything is still fresh in your mind.

Business cards: File alphabetically.
Flyers and promotional materials: Put into a file labeled with the name of the conference and date.
Workshop notes: Punch and place into a large binder under suitable headings, e.g., Inspiration, Non-fiction, Technique, Business, Marketing, Legal.
Writer’s guidelines: Staple onto the front cover of the periodical, and file.

· Get cracking on your “to do” list. Review the asterisk list, prioritize, and follow up immediately. It’s too easy to fall back into routine and lose the steam of enthusiasm from a conference.

Don’t get lost in a wave of panic after a conference. Follow these simple tips and you can navigate a conference with enthusiasm and confidence.

February 24, 2010

Writing Support - Bonnie Way

The writing course that I enrolled in at a local library wrapped up Monday night. It’s been neat getting to know the other writers, to hear about what they want to write, to see their enthusiasm for writing. At the beginning of the course, our instructor showed us several pictures from Curious George books and invited us to think about which picture represented where we were at in our writing. Some felt like Curious George walking tightrope across the power lines; others felt like Curious George being hauled from the sea, throwing up sea water and fish.

The picture that caught my attention had two parts. In the first part, Curious George sits on the deck of a ship, watching a sea gull flying above him. In the next picture, he’s standing on the railing, holding his arms out in an attempt to fly like the sea gull. I felt that was me. For years (I could say ten, as that takes me back to my first Inscribe conference and the beginning of my serious attempts to learn and grow as a writer), I’ve been attending writing conferences, reading books about writing, dreaming about writing. Now it’s time to start applying that. To jump off the railing and try to fly.

For the last class, our instructor invited us to write the first page of whatever it is we want to write and to share that with our fellow writers. I took with me the prologue for Dream of Peace, my young adult fantasy novel that I want to rewrite. It’s the first time that I’ve read my work to another group of writers (despite all those years of conferences and opportunities there!) and I stumbled and choked up several times. In the end, though, they all enjoyed what I had written and had good comments.

Now, we’re talking about forming writer’s groups to keep our momentum up, to keep encouraging each other. Again, I’m excited about that. It’s good to have others who share your dreams and can hold you accountable to keep working towards them. Just as my family used to always ask me, “When are you going to let us read one of your stories?” until I gave them a story... that novel I'm now trying to rewrite.

~ Bonnie Way

February 22, 2010

Finding Fulfillment - Jan Keats

“I will listen to God the Lord. He has ordered peace for those who worship Him!” (Psalm 85:8 NIV)
My daughter and I love to shop together. On one occasion something made me realize that shopping wasn’t just something to do, it was a bonding time between a mother and daughter.

At a clothing store one Saturday, we picked out a few articles and proceeded to the change rooms. We found stalls next to each other and we were soon engaged in a wonderful chat about our findings, among other things. Suddenly we heard a voice from the adjacent stall saying, “You two must be mother and daughter.” We both acknowledged that we were. Then the mysterious elderly lady’s voice said somberly, “I never had a daughter; listening to you both makes me wish that I had. You seem to be really close. I have a son whom I love dearly, but my son doesn’t like to shop,” she chuckled.

We were speechless, hoping to say something to appease her sorrowful and unfulfilled heart. At the same time we realized how grateful we were to have a special mother/daughter relationship. Neither of us saw that elderly woman. She left the change room before we did. We were having too much fun trying on clothes.

Throughout the rest of the day, we couldn’t get that woman off our minds. She must be so lonely, I thought. I wondered if she had found fulfillment in life. We didn’t know anything about her, yet our hearts ached for her. Was she widowed? Was she living all alone? Does her son live nearby? Did she browse the shopping centres frequently to fill the void in her life? Did she know God? We simply didn’t know.

But God knows. The woman was blessed with a son, yet she hoped to have had a daughter to bond with. The woman was also blessed with a long life, yet it seemed she was feeling empty and unfulfilled in her senior years. Even through her blessings, she had a longing for peace. The Bible says that God is the peace and joy giver. His promises are for her. His uncompromising peace is for her. Psalm 4:11a says, “But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy.”

How about you? Are you content and at peace with God? Fulfillment comes through trusting and walking daily with God. Your life is carved into his hand. As I remember the lonely woman, and how I was caused to feel her emptiness, I pray that she will find the peace and contentment she is longing for. Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.”
Lord, help us to seek and find fulfillment when we feel empty and lonely. We believe you are the true source of life, who offers peace and joy to everyone.

Jan Keats

February 19, 2010

The Things We Take for Granted

I’m ashamed to admit that when the power was off all night, the first thing I thought of upon waking was a hot cup of coffee.

I should have been concerned about the water pipes freezing, like my husband who had abandoned our warm ship and stepped out onto the ice-floe of our bedroom floor. Or how about our children? Did they survive the night? Or the older people in town who’s internal regulators don’t keep them as warm as the rest of us.

No, I shrugged deeper under the blankets and braved only one hand through a dark port-hole. Jack-Frost nibbled at my fingers and I retreated under the covers again. I longed for a warm mug to hold.

At last the craving for caffeine propelled me from my bed to my closet where I pulled on two thick sweaters, fuzzy socks and slippers, and braved a look at the white world below my window. Snow chips blew by in a hurry to Manitoba, and the odd one pinged the window as if to chastise me for thinking bad thoughts about Mr. North Wind. But I was really thinking that two hands around a hot cup of coffee would help me accept the scene below. It was like walking into my teen daughter’s bedroom. Great lumpy mounds of snow had been tossed haphazardly, landing where they may. A mammoth one stretched across the street, another draped over a car, and another, waiting for someone to trip on, lay in front of the church door.

Then, rising out of the chaos, lace. It had been flicked on a tree where it wove in and out of the branches like cut work. Later, with a blue sky behind , the sun would shine through the virgin veil and the blizzard would be forgiven once again.

But not now. I wrapped my sweater tighter, slid my hand down the cool banister and headed for the coffee machine. There must be some way, I mused, standing in the middle of the kitchen, to heat a cup of coffee.

Milk and cereal, which I usually have for breakfast, never tasted so cold and cruel. We all sat down together – my husband, our children and myself. And they stayed. I didn’t have to call them to the table. And I didn’t have to invite them to stick around. We lit an emergency candle and a few tapers and huddled together, taking turns warming our hands over them as the temperature plunged to near freezing in our house. The only time we left the table was to pull on our coats and gloves.

And the stories began. We told about our Grandparents who lived by candlelight and lanterns every evening. They sang, they crocheted, they told stories, they talked. And we talked. We prayed for the power boys who braved the blizzard to restore our warmth and lights.

There were times of silence. Real silence. No TV, no radio, no beeping gadgets with our children’s noses buried in them. Even the lights were hushed and the fridge no longer whined. Yet our children stayed. I snuggled into the warmth of our love and togetherness.

My daughter decided a fondue would work without the power. We melted a chocolate bar and dipped cantaloupe in it, and we connected. We listened to each other, we laughed, and I almost forgot about my longing for coffee.

And then the kids started to burn toothpicks and chocolate bar wrappers in the candles. And then it was over. They drifted off, staring at the Wii, much like I had stared at the coffee machine. The lights hummed and the kids whooped and ran for their electronics.

I lunged towards the coffee maker and turned it on. I prayed. “Thank you Lord, for all the things we take for granted like lights and warmth and power. Thank you that we are always in your hands even when we think we’re doing just fine on our own.”

I looked at the coffee filter in my hand. I turned the machine off, pushed it back in the corner and unplugged it. I don’t even drink coffee.

Pam Mytroen

February 17, 2010

The winning equation

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Hebrews 12:1-15

TO CHEW ON: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

There is something inspiring about watching athletes win a medal – especially when those athletes are from your country and you know a bit about what it took for them to get there.

Canadian speed skater Cindy Klassen is one such inspiring person. Always a gifted skater, she was rejected for the Olympic women’s hockey team before she even tried speed skating. Once she put on those speed skates she began winning medals including a bronze in the 2002 Olympics. Then in a freak accident in 2005 she cut twelve tendons, a nerve and artery in her arm and was forced to take time off. But she bounced back, winning five medals at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. However, in February of 2008 she again cut her season short to be by her sister’s side after Lisa Klassen suffered a near-fatal traffic accident. And later that year she had surgery on both her knees. Yet in December 2009, she qualified yet again to represent Canada in speed skating at the 2010 Olympics. Her story tells us something about the power of a goal and the strength of the human spirit when it comes to reaching that goal.

These elements also come into play in the race that is the Christian life. The ultimate goal for the Christian, as we said yesterday, is to hear Jesus’ “Well done!” when we break the finish-line tape. But the race is long, the obstacles many. That’s where we need determination, endurance, perseverance. Our inspiration and example is Jesus. I love how the Amplified Bible describes His role:

“Looking away from all that will distract to Jesus, Who is the Leader and Source of our faith, (giving the first incentive for our belief) and is also its Finisher (bringing it to maturity and perfection)” Hebrews 12:2 Amplified

The writer speaks of how Jesus’ finish (enduring the cross, despising the shame, seated at God’s right hand) inspires us. I also get inspiration from how He ran the middle of the race – His compassion, His single-mindedness, His wisdom, His ability to capture truth in little stories, His plain speech, His eye for the individual, and on and on… What a winner!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for coming to earth to run this earthly race over 2000 years ago. Remind me to look to You for inspiration about how to carry on every day – and to finish well. Amen.

MORE: Find out more about Cindy Klassen at her web site.

Listen / watch her interviewed for 100 Huntley Street

Cindy Klassen’s Olympic schedule (her first race is tomorrow!)

(The above was first posted at Other Food: daily devo's February 13, 2010)


Web: violetnesdoly.com
Blog: promptings
Poetry portfolio: Violet Nesdoly / poems
Daily devotions for adults: Other Food: daily devo's
Twitter: @vnesdoly

February 15, 2010

Oh, My God

Something has been bothering me lately. Actually it has been bothering me for a while. Maybe I have been watching too many episodes of American Idol or So You Think You Can Boogie.

Why is that so many people feel a need to punctuate conversation with cries of "Oh My God" -which is not said for any praiseworthy reason nor is it intended to call attention to the mighty works of the Lord? No holy awe here, folks. Only self absorbed blasphemy in my books. Social networking sites aren't any better either. They too, sport the typical OMG acronym more often than not.

I am no prude, yet I am thinking that taking the Lord's name in vain in this manner is saturating society and we hardly even bat an eyelash.

Well, you know what they say...if you can't beat 'em - join 'em. So, yes. That is what I will do. I will spend a portion of my day and include Oh, My God in my vocabulary starting right now. I sure know I have a million reasons in my life to say Oh, My God!

In fact, I am going to share ten of those reasons right here.
1. Oh, my God! How wonderful you are. You created me in my mother's womb and made me in a really cool way. I could never do that, even if I had the smarts.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:14

2. Oh, my God! I survived cancer. I cannot thank you enough for giving me more days. I sure wasn't finished having grandbabies or writing my stories or being a good wife or organizing my cupboards.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

3. Oh, my God! I watched two of my beautiful grandchildren being born. How can anyone doubt Who you are and what a miracle is.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

4.Oh, my God! You sent Jesus, knowing He would be rejected and persecuted and would die a horrible death on the cross. How you must love us.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:3

5.Oh, my God! Your power in nature is breathtaking. I plant a tiny seed and within a few months I am eating food that will nourish and sustain. My God - how do you do that?

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1Corinthians 3:7

6.Oh, my God! I do not understand natural disaster. I wonder if I was a Haitian soul, would I be shaking my fist at You or would I be rejoicing as some of those God fearing people are? I really cannot comprehend why You allow this to happen, but I know that I don't need to. You are in control. My God, who am I to question? But thanks for letting me, all the same.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8

7.Oh, my God! When I think of all the beautiful people you have put in my path, I rejoice. I don't think I do it often enough, though. So thanks God for friends who say hello through e-mails, letters, phone calls, visits. I need to stop and smell the roses more often.
A friend loves at all times...Proverbs 17:17

8.Oh, my God! I have failed you. You have given me so much. I demand more. You have forgiven me over and over again. I still make poor choices. I bow my head in prayer and then I get on with my day and forget what you whispered to my heart.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

9.Oh, my God! How I marvel at people like Mother Theresa, and Billy Graham and ordinary people who tread in the name of Jesus where others fear to tread. Give me half their courage and allow me to get my light out from under the bushel.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

10.Oh, my God! For you, my God so loved this crazy mixed up, foul mouthed, power consuming, war-mongering world that you sent your only Son, Jesus, so that we may not perish but have that life that goes on and on forever. What, by the way my God, is forever? You have promised us eternal life with Jesus. Can I even fathom what that means? That thought seems too lofty. I am unworthy, yet you invite me to know you personally. Show me more, Lord. I cannot wait. But I will. Because, my God, it is all about You and Your perfect timing.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

I Thank you Oh, My God!

February 12, 2010

Where is God in Haiti? -- Janet Sketchley

It doesn’t take a tragedy on the magnitude of the one in Haiti to get people asking “Where was God?” and “Why did He let this happen?”

I’m sure God doesn’t mind honest questions. He knows us, knows our finite understanding and the troubles that are too deep to articulate. I’m equally sure He does not appreciate it when we set ourselves up as His judges, especially since we don’t have all the information.

Whatever our circumstances, it’s worth asking “Where are You, God? What do You want me to learn?” Another good question is “What do You want to do through me?”

Where is God in Haiti? He’s giving strength to the relief workers, whether they recognize it or not. He’s giving courage to the suffering, if they’ll receive it. He’s shining brightest through the people who are in relationship with Him, who can listen to and rely on His Spirit.

Someone called Jesus “God with skin on” and that’s what Christians are to be: the visible means through which God works to touch the world and to show who He really is. Being human, we fail more often than we succeed, but as long as we’re obedient to Him and relying on Him, people can see the difference.

God is in the details, the personal experiences. He had people in place to help physically, and others already praying even though they didn’t know why.

I spoke with a woman who’d been invited to visit Haiti this January. She and her husband sensed it wasn’t the time. They were in Canada, safe, during the earthquake, and God used her as a voice here for the mission there. An email from one of the mission leaders said a voice told him not to leave the shaking building but to shelter under a desk. The rubble at the exit proves he would have died.

On another mission team, one member felt the need to cut short his time and return home. From Canada, he too was able to pray and to be of service. The rest of his team survived the quake and provided support until they had to leave.

God was in the finding of the 15-day old baby, alive after a week in the rubble. In the elderly woman found under the ruined cathedral, who sang so that rescuers could find her. And in the deaths of so many, including the Canadian nurse who’d just arrived to volunteer. I don’t understand, but I trust His character enough to know He can take all this brokenness and make something beautiful.

If we let Him. He won’t push past our defences any more than He would suspend the natural forces that caused the devastation.

We’re all inundated with opportunities to give to Haiti relief. If for some reason you’ve held off but now think it’s time, here are some links that might interest you:

Hands Across The Sea (HATS) orphanage and school in Deschappelles, Haiti.

Cup of Cold Water Click on the “earthquake relief” tab for updates from Haiti: news of the ministry compound (including orphanage) in Vignier, Haiti, and of relief efforts.

Canadian Baptist Ministries Click “emergency relief” and then “Haiti earthquake”.

World Vision

© Janet Sketchley, 2010
For devotionals, reviews and conversation, stop by Janet Sketchley's blog, God with Us: Finding Joy.

February 03, 2010

Lesson from A Hornbill - M. Laycock

The tropical sun beamed down as I peered outside. Banana palms swayed in a grove by the river and the incessant sound of insects filled my ears. A pile of wet clothes lay in a basket at my feet. I looked at the long line stretched to the far end of the yard, then peeked up. No sign of clouds yet, but I knew if I didn’t hang the clothes to dry soon, I would likely have to run out to gather them as the first spits of rain fell. The rains came every day to that part of Papua New Guinea.

So did my neighbour’s pet. I scanned the trees around the house. No sign of him. Maybe he wouldn’t show up today. I hefted the basket and stepped into the yard. I was about half way along the line when the raucous sound tore through the still air. A rush of wing made me duck and my heart raced. I groaned as the huge Hornbill landed a few feet away, tilting his oversized head to peer at me, his blinking eye seeming to say, “Gotcha again!”

Every time I ventured out to hang up the laundry, that bird descended and gave me a fright. Our neighbours had brought the Hornbill home when they discovered it had been injured. Once he was well, the odd creature seemed to delight in being around people. I know it loved to watch me hang up my laundry. Sometimes I would forget it was there until it made a swoop over my head. Then the adrenaline rush would catch me again. A friend has described the sound a Hornbill makes in flight as a helicopter with asthma. It’s an apt description. Apparently the bird is missing a few pinions in its huge wings, so when it flies, the noise is loud and constant.

As I watched that strange and rather ugly bird that day, I realized its lack wasn’t a mistake. It was God’s design. Perhaps the noise the bird’s wings make has some purpose necessary to its survival. Or perhaps the Hornbill is one of God’s object lessons. Every time he takes flight, he announces his lack. There are many around us who do the same. We look at them as slightly “less than,” whether maimed physically, mentally or socially. We pity their weakness, or worse, we condemn them for it.

God sees weakness in a different light. In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul describes his “thorn in the flesh,” and explains – “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”” Paul was left to struggle with his “thorn,” and as he struggled he grew in an understanding of God’s grace.

Not all of us are like that Hornbill, whose weakness is obvious. Some of us are able to hide ours very well. But whether our struggles are obvious or not, God is waiting to supply what we need to deal with them, all to His glory. His grace is sufficient.

February 01, 2010

Why I don't write -- Kimberley Payne

Sometimes I fight writing. I know I have a great idea and I’ve even started it inside my mind, but I put the brakes on. I don’t want to transfer it to paper because I’m afraid that if I start and then am interrupted by the telephone, or by a child’s cry, or by the dryer’s buzzer I fear that I may lose it altogether.

Instead of starting, I keep it inside to protect and nurture it until the timing is right to let it loose. But have I lost ideas entirely because of this? I don’t know. I can’t remember. Perhaps blissfully I lose ideas but is this better than knowingly losing ideas?

I’ve never chanced starting to write knowing that I had only 30 minutes to get my idea down. I’ve never risked it. I’m too afraid that if I let the idea loose without completing it, well then, I’d lose it forever.

I don’t know if I could pick up where I had left off. I don’t know if I could get myself back into that frame of mind.

I feel like I move in spurts. There is a period of incubation and formulation. The thought is tossed and turned and moulded in my mind. Then the moment comes where the idea bursts forward and splatters in ink on my paper. I cannot stop it and it runs like a locomotive fiercely out of my mind onto the page.

But as the ink dries, the idea dies out. The writer is spent. And once spent, I return to incubation.

Do I unleash the train before it’s ready? Do I dare ever proceed or yank the brake cord just as the train gathers speed?

This is my dilemma as a writer. Do I take my opportunities as they come up, or wait for the ideal moment? Do I write regardless or steal those moments to luxuriate in reading?

As I pose these questions to myself, I already know the answer. A writer writes.

No more excuses. No hiding behind reading. A writer writes when the ideas are there. And when the ideas are not there. A writer writes through the incubation and into the inspiration. A writer writes.