July 31, 2013

Faith Through Autism - Shirley Williams

We're pleased to once again have Shirley as our Guest Blogger on InScribe Writers Online.

Recently we commemorated World Autism Month, and I would like to share a family experience and how God put it all into perspective!

As we stroll around our local ‘arena walking track’ tonight, a hockey game plays below. We listen to cheers and music and watch boys our son Joe’s age, win against the visiting team. The noise is too loud for Joe, so he puts on his large red headphones. (Unfortunately these are the only ones he can wear). Everyone notices him as we walk around the track; especially other teenage boys. They watch as he comes around to their side of the arena; waiting, it seems for a chance to get him alone and tease him for looking different. This would not the first time Joe might be teased/bullied on this track, at school, or in our community.

Joe doesn’t have to wear headphones to get attention as he walks. Though he is fifteen, he walks like a younger child. He skips along, humming, or reciting movies along the way. Joe is different from other teenage boys his age; different because our dear son Joseph has autism.

Sometimes reality catches up with me as we walk around the track and through life. The reality that our son IS not normal, as other boys his age. Without autism he could be playing with the hockey team; but instead he walks friendless along the track with us.

It brings a tear to my eye as I compare Joe with the other boys as we walk, noticing stares toward him (regardless of headphones), knowing that he is so easily victimized, and being very aware of our huge lifelong responsibility. As I ponder this, these thoughts soon give way, to thoughts of how very special Joe is, regardless of his differences, and how God has given us so much love for him!

I recall how he can quickly recite information on history, movies and most animals and dinosaurs! He is compassionate, innocent, honest and funny. Joe is an awesome artist and wants to become an animation film producer someday. Joe is Joe all day long; he doesn’t play emotional games. He truly is who he is. This is so refreshing in today’s society.

Joe doesn’t skate or do well on a team. He’d rather do things alone or with a few others. His sensitivities make it difficult for him to live in today’s world; though live in it he must. He is doing his best to adapt to a world that is ‘too noisy, too bright and too overwhelming’ for him. He will navigate the world differently than most of us, but with help and love, he will be ALL THAT HE CAN BE someday. Thank God, that is enough, regardless of what the world says. Joe will never be another ‘Wayne Gretzky' but neither will those boys ever have a fantastic mind for memory or detail that Joe has. When I review the differences, though disturbing at first, then interesting, I realize that Joe and each of these boys have different gifts, abilities and purposes; very special and unique paths for each one.

Sometimes I struggle accepting Joe’s special needs, but mostly, I rejoice in his special abilities and how well he is doing. I can see that God has a special purpose for Joe, the boy’s hockey team, the hecklers and for all of us. We are all ‘a work in progress’. May we all accept, appreciate and be patient with the unique process each one of us goes through in life, special needs or not! (See Jeremiah 29:11-13)

July 29, 2013

Collaboration On The Road To Publication - Ruth L. Snyder

I'm working on my final assignment for the course "Shape, Write, and Sell Your Novel" with the Long Ridge Writers' Group. The assignment focuses on putting together a traditional query package to send to potential publishers and/or agents. A couple days after I researched possible markets, I received an email from Kathy Macias, an acquaintance through The Christian PEN. She was looking for writers interested in writing a short story of 8-9,000 words as part of a Christmas project. I sent an email back requesting more information. As of July 8th, I'm officially part of the Kathy Macias 12 Days of Christmas Series. My deadline is November 1, 2013 and my story will be released in e-book format on December 1, 2013.

Here's my synopsis of the story I'm writing:
It's Christmas time, but Cecile is surrounded by heat, dust, strangers, and death. If she'd accepted Colin's proposal and stayed in Canada, she would be enjoying a "normal" Christmas. Instead, she's stranded in the middle of the Kalahari Desert, serving as the lone nurse at a mission clinic, faced with medical emergencies she wasn't trained to deal with. Little has changed despite months of hard work. Cecile has never been a quitter, but she's tempted to just pack it in and return home. She wants her life to make a difference. Did she mistake God's calling in her life?

So far, the process has been wonderful. There are twelve authors involved (including Marcia Laycock and me). We have contact with each other through email and questions/comments fly back and forth on a regular basis. Once the publisher, Helping Hands Press, received our contracts, we were invited to choose our cover pictures on shutterstock. We were also introduced to Giovanni Gelati, first through email and then through phone calls. He gave us an overview of the process and a list of things he needs from us as authors so that our stories can be promoted effectively. (He encouraged me to look at this process as a marathon, not a sprint.) The cover for the series will be released shortly and Kathy Macias' story will be released as the first in the series on September 1st. After that, a new story in the series will be released every 15 days. If sales warrant, the stories will also be released in paperback format.

Part of the publishing agreement is that each of us will "have and grow the following social media: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon Author Page, Pinterest, Blog/Website." We also agree to make appearances on The G-ZONE blogtalk radio show on a monthly or bi-monthly basis and provide a guest post or Q &A at least twice a month for use on social networks. We are also strongly encouraged to support each other by writing reviews and posting them on the release date and interacting on the Helping Hands Press Facebook Page. If we have any questions along the way, we are coached and encouraged. Instead of focusing solely on developing our own platform, we are able to help each other and increase the size of our platform reach.

I'm looking forward to what God has for me and the other writers on this collaborative journey!

What has been your experience with publication? Did you feel alone or supported on your journey? I'd love to hear from you.

 Ruth L. Snyder and her husband, Kendall, live in scenic northeastern Alberta with their five young children. Ruth has had several articles published and is working on her first novel.


July 26, 2013

InScribers Review: The Art of the Personal Essay - Bonnie Way

My first published works were personal essays or creative nonfiction, although I didn't know either of those terms at the time.  I simply wrote short stories about my sheep, but many other writers have used personal experiences as a jumping off point for sharing their message with the world.

One of the best books I've encountered as a student of writing is Philip Lopate's anthology The Art of the Personal Essay.  This was a textbook for my creative nonfiction course in university, but I've since returned to it to review Philip's advice as I write.  In this neat collection, personal essayist Phillip Lopate explores the history of the genre and presents work by great writers from Seneca to the modern day.

The Personal Essays

The essays appear in the anthology in chronological order, from the “forerunners” such as Seneca and Plutarch to modern writers such as Annie Dillard and Richard Selzer.  There is a second table of contents that organizes the essays by theme (e.g., city life, country living, food, death) and by form (e.g., humour, lecture, memoir).

Lopate provides a brief introduction for each author whose work is included in the anthology.  These introductions provide some biographical information about the author as well as a brief analysis of their writing style.  For example, Lopate mentions that the two essays included by Virginia Woolf “show her characteristic movement toward reverie as well as her penchant for shifting angles of vision.”

What is the Personal Essay?

Lopate’s lengthy introduction to the anthology is a thorough examination of the form of the personal essay.  He says that the personal essay is “one of the most approachable and diverting types of literature we possess.”  He then lists several qualities of the personal essay, using examples from the essays chosen.

“Personal essay” is a relatively new term in the writing world.  Many of the earliest writers in this anthology certainly wouldn’t have referred to their works as “personal essays.”  Lopate provides an explanation for why certain essays met the criteria of his anthology while others (often by the same writers) didn’t.  For example, Seneca’s essays were originally written as letters, but Lopate includes them because they were intended for a wider audience and have a very personal tone.

Writing Personal Essays

The writer interested in how to write a personal essay could use this anthology as a textbook for the genre.  Lopate’s introduction is a thorough lesson in the form.  The selected essays offer an excellent picture of the genre and an idea of what other personal essayists have done.

A writer should study both the introduction and the essays.  Consider how each of the selected essays apply the principles Lopate discusses in the introduction.  Examine each essayists’ style—what makes Natalia Ginzburg’s writing vastly different from Edward Hoagland’s?  Try to imitate an essayist’s style.  Consider the subject matter tackled by each essayist.  Look at the form and structure of the essays.

About Phillip Lopate

Phillip Lopate has written three personal essay collections himself, as well as novels, poetry, and a memoir.  He has edited several anthologies and his essays have appeared in numerous magazines.  He is also the recipient of many writing awards.  For twelve years, he taught writing to children in schools.  He is now a creative writing instructor at the university level.

If you are a writer of personal essays or creative nonfiction, I highly recommend The Art of the Personal Essay.  Philip's advice will help writers of any experience to hone their words and share their message with their audience.  As a bonus, most of the essays are extremely enjoyable to read, so have fun while you are learning!

July 25, 2013

Generations Passing... by Bobbi Junior

Canada turned 146 on July 1, 2013.

Today I watched a video dedicated to the Prairie Sentinels, iconic grain elevators that lined railways and guarded prairie towns for the past three generations.

The song is filled with nostalgia, and it tugs at my heart-strings.

As I watched the pictures, random thoughts came to mind.

These people were immigrants. Many didn't speak the language. There were no ESL classes for newcomers.

They suffered injury and illness. No universal health care for them. If there was a doctor in wagon distance, the nearest hospital could still be over a day away.

They survived winter based on how well they managed summer and the growing season. Natural consequences had meaning for adults, as well as kids.

Often I get e-mails comparing the old days of my youth with the way things are today.  It strikes me that perhaps the definition of 'good old days' is 'that which is familiar'. Grain elevators marked the prairies for three short generations. From my perspective, they've existed forever, a lifetime! For children born 146 years ago, and for children who will be born today, Prairie Sentinels have no meaning. Is that wrong?

I have to wonder. Do we serve ourselves by dwelling on things of the past as though there was something magical, precious, life-giving, life-honoring about them? Or would we serve ourselves better by looking at today and choosing to dwell on those things that  are right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy? Philippians 4:8

Today. Not yesterday. Yesterday really is gone. Remember? Yes. Compare? No.

Today. One day, this day is all we have - as a nation, as a person. May we not disparage today, but rather search for and extol the good things our God-given intelligence and curiosity have allowed us to create.

The question I ask is not, "What have we lost?" but rather, "How can we honour what we now have?"

While Bobbi has been writing for several decades, sharing her words in a public forum is relatively new.  In 2011 her mother's progression into dementia could no longer be ignored. One day she demanded, "Someone needs to write about this!" Bobbi began to share snippets of her mother's story in a blog, and is now documenting her mother's journey in a manuscript: The Reluctant Caregiverwww.bobbijunior.com

July 24, 2013

Through the Storm - Lynn Dove

As my friend Jack likes to say: "Unless you've been dead, or live in Edmonton..." no doubt everyone has heard about the disastrous floods that raged through my hometown of Calgary, Alberta in June.  I posted several pictures on my Journey Thoughts blog showing the devastation, and then how the community rallied around those who had lost their homes and businesses.  Amazingly, the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth The Calgary Stampede was not cancelled, even though the fairgrounds had been submerged under water only a couple of weeks before. 

The cost of restoration and rebuilding is in the staggering billions of dollars and peoples' lives will never be the same. 

I am always slightly offended by the way the media and insurance companies call a disastrous natural event an "Act of God", as if God would purpose these disasters to happen.  How many times have I heard the question asked, "Where was God in this?" 

I know God allows things to happen for a reason and no doubt, here in Alberta, we will see His Hand of protection and provision in the months and year ahead as people put together what is left of their lives after a raging storm took so much away.  I have seen how neighbours and countless numbers of volunteers have come alongside those who are wading through the waters and helping them clean up.  Samaritan's Purse, the Red Cross, and Church Disaster Relief groups have all responded to the call.  So many are there to help these people get through the storm's aftermath.

I like to think that the last several weeks have been a clear illustration of what it means to be the "Hands and Feet of Jesus" as we love on our neighbours, and come together to show brotherly kindness and practical assistance to so many who need to see Jesus in the faces of those around them.

I am thankful to all those who have prayed for Calgary and the hard-hit communities of Exshaw, Bragg Creek, High River, and Canmore.  I have seen first-hand the devastation in each of those towns and they will need our prayers and our work boots and gloves on to help as they are now in the recovery and rebuilding stage.

As we walk beside our neighbours I pray that they will see that God is always there through the storm.

July 23, 2013

Enjoy the Journey - Terrie Lynne

On July 13, 2013 my son got married. It was a beautiful day, filled with many special moments that I will cherish for ever. I can still see them holding hands as they lovingly spoke their vows while gazing into each others eyes. It was perfect. I don't think there was a dry eye in the Church!

Another special moment was during the reception when my husband and I had the opportunity to welcome our daughter-in-law into the family. I shared a quote that I thought was very profound and I could relate to as a mother. It goes like this:

"A mother is as happy as her least happiest kid".

I expressed how as a mother I could relate to that quote and that their wedding day was one of the happiest days of my life because I knew that it was one of the happiest days of my son's life! My eyes filled with tears and my voice cracked as  I continued to say that my new daughter-in-law was the daughter-in-law that I had always hoped for and that I hoped that I would be the mother-in-law that she had always hoped for. I could hear my own daughter quietly weeping in the background and I could see that my son and daughter-in-law eyes were filled with tears. As the evening went on I came to realize that what I said had a profound effect on many in the reception hall. I had various people with tears in their own eyes come up to me and express how that moment had touched their own hearts. I was blessed that they were blessed.

The quote I shared that night makes me wonder if our Heavenly Father is as happy as His least happiest kid. I know that He cares deeply and wants the best for each and everyone of His children. His desire is for us to freely choose Him, and allow Him to lead and guide us. I believe He too weeps over us. That we as His children are the children that He has always hoped for and that He will be the Father that we have always longed for. For He is a God of love and compassion, mercy and grace. He wants us to enjoy the journey!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more
simply go to Where the Healing Begins

Photos compliments of Connor Tkachuk and by JBoisvenue photography 

July 21, 2013

Ministry in Many Forms-Sulo Moorthy

"How has your pen opened ministry doors for you in ways you never dreamed possible?" was one of the choice of topics Brenda gave us to write about this month.

My writing hasn't extended that far to open doors for me to go on speaking engagements or to put me on book tours from place to place to minister to people through my love of God and skill of writing. When I have no clue how to build up a social network via face book, twitter or any other newly-born technology, it's no use wasting my time in moaning about unopened doors.

Three years ago, I started a writer's group at the suggestion of a dear friend who knew that I was searching to join one. I wouldn't consider our group to be either an affirmation one or a critique one. Because the women in the group are mostly wanna-be writers, they seldom bring  manuscripts to be critiqued or affirmed. It's more of a writing class than a typical writer's group.

If not for the writing exercises they do at the meetings or the assignments I at times request them to do at home, they don't do much writing on their own. Work and family commitments give little time for them to sit and write. But when they are made to write, some write so beautifully that I get reluctant to share mine before them.

Sometimes I do get frustrated for doing all the coaxing and seeing little or no outcome. There were times I questioned myself as to why I'm still continuing with what I do. What was I getting out of this writer's group in regard to my own progress? Probably, not much. But at the same time, I cannot forget the friendships I've gained from these seven women who come faithfully every month to meet with other writers.

However, now having completed three years of leading the writer's group, I was thinking of quitting my undertaking this Fall.  Then I received an e-mail from one of the women in my writer's group for whom I had sent an e-mail wishing her on her birthday and complimenting her on the assignment she wrote and  shared with us at our last meeting. My eyes teared up when I read the last two lines of her e-mail.

It read," You are the reason I keep coming back, your faith in our Lord and in each of us. This is a great calling you are fulfilling in your life, among other things."

How could I ever think of quitting after reading something like this?  Kay's words reminded me of another woman, who had penned me something in similar tone thirteen years ago. I've kept her card inside my Bible as a keepsake all these years.

I met Elizabeth at the Read Saskatoon volunteers' meeting. At that time, I had just finished my writing course with Institute of Children's Literature and had published a poem and an article in two magazines. When Elizabeth overheard me telling someone about my writing interests, she approached me to know more about it.

On and off, both of us met at a coffee shop or library to talk about books, faith, health and so on. We would have met five or six times  at the most, for soon Elizabeth had to leave for Ontario where her husband had got a new job. On the last day we met, she gave me a huge hug and handed me a lovely card. I've kept her card inside my Bible, so that whenever I get discouraged as a writer, I could find some comfort and encouragement in reading Elizabeth's beautifully handwritten words.

 I'll let you read a part of what she wrote so that you can understand why her card has become a favorite  keepsake of mine.
" I believe everything happens for a reason! I believe the purpose of me joining "Read Saskatoon" was to meet you...

You shared with me your love of writing and encouraged me to do the same - I dared to take a bold step of faith ... started to put pen to paper and the words started to spill out like a torrent. I finally found great expression in my writing - My journey has just begun!"
I do not know how far the journey has gone, for we haven't kept in touch with each other after Elizabeth left Saskatoon. But I know for sure, wherever she may be today, she'll still be writing.

As writers, as well as ambassadors of Christ, we do not know when, where, and how the seeds we sow will take root, put out shoots and bring forth fruits. It need not be our concern either. The world may not recognize the process of sowing or watering as ministry unless there is something for show and tell in the public arena.

As writers, we do thrive on words of encouragement and appreciation. Otherwise, we easily give into self-doubts and discouragement. That's why I've kept Elizabeth's card as a keepsake.

In Oswald Chamber's words, "We consider what we do in the way of Christian work as service, yet Jesus Christ calls  service to be what we are to Him, not what we do for Him." (My Utmost for His Highest, June 19)

July 20, 2013

Sit On Your Ego by Brenda J Wood

Recently the organizers of a writing contest asked for prayer before they delivered the winning entries. Apparently, they feared the reactions of the losers. They even sent a letter of apology and encouragement for them.

What have we come to when grown people cannot take rejection?? Did we never learn that as good as we might be, sometimes the other guy is better?

Did this begin when we were passed through every grade simply because “we do not fail our students anymore?” Or was it because Mother didn’t teach us to share? Or was it when the hockey coach made too much of us when we finally got our one goal of the season?

Face it, writers. We did not write the Bible. Our books may not be enjoyed and revered as we would like. But was that our goal? Surely we have a loftier plan than that.

Answer these questions honestly.

  • Is my book truly awful? (Hint-Don’t trust your mother’s opinion!) As Ambrose Bierce once said, “The covers of this book are too far apart.”
  • Did I write my book in the wrong genre? Take Madeleine L'Engle’s advice. “You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
  • Am I taking the book (and myself) far too seriously? Maybe my book is light fluff for the masses and not a Pulitzer Prize winner! Francis Bacon thought that some books were to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and a few to be chewed and digested.
  • Is it too long? Take Thomas Jefferson’s advice. ‘The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” (That means edit, edit, edit!)
  • What is my real goal? Did I accomplish that? Well then, give a copy to a person who needs to read it. Martin Luther advised us to change the world by picking up our pen. The books are only dust collectors if they sit in your back closet.

Finally, as Winston Churchill said, “Success is never final. Failure is never fatal. It is courage that counts.”

Do you have any? (Courage, that is?) If so, you will take rejection on the chin like a man/woman of God who writes their best and then lets God handle the rest.

Brenda J Wood

July 18, 2013

Affirmation vs. Critique Groups: Speaking To the Whole - Dayna E. Mazzuca



We're pleased to have Dayna Mazzuca join us as our Guest Blogger today.

When I started a Women’s Writing Circle through my church last year there was only one rule: affirm, affirm, affirm. I told the women who came, some closet writers and some published professionals, this was not a Critique Group — it was an Affirmation Group. As a result, they began to take more risks in their writing.


To be honest, it was an experiment! But, God is good! Here’s what I discovered: an Affirmation Group is about valuing the whole person, whereas a Critique Group focuses on the work at hand and taking it to the next level. An Affirmation Group tries to encourage the writer to go deeper within themselves, with others and with God; whereas a Critique Group is about collegial support and suggestions. An Affirmation Group goes deep. A Critique Group aims high.

In our Women’s Writing Circle we opened with a writer’s devotional. Then, using a prepared prompt on The Seasons of Life (Ecclesiastes 3), we wrote for 20 minutes—and read out loud what we had written, with the option of saying, “Pass.” Few chose to pass.

As each person read their work aloud, others said what they liked about the piece—and commented on the heartbeat behind the work. If it was funny, we affirmed the person’s humour. If sad, we affirmed the writer’s willingness to face sorrow. If personal, we affirmed the writer’s open heart. If it was a rant, we affirmed the writer’s keen eye.

In every reading, we tried to affirm the season of life the writer was expressing.

I said to these lovely women, who ranged in age from teens to grandmas, “Your words are your voice. They are what God is stirring up within you. They want to get out, to be known. You and your words are a blessing to us, and we see nothing that can be ‘improved upon,’ because this is not the time and place to ‘improve upon,’ but only to enjoy and appreciate.”

Basically, an Affirmation Group celebrates the moment, rather than aiming for the finish line.

A Critique Group, by contrast, has huge value for writers wanting to hone their craft; and who are confident in their profession. Constructive critique is absolutely necessary to take writing to the next level. I’ve been in lots of fabulous critique groups! A Critique Group allows confident writers to grow within a collegial setting.

The difference is simply how people are heard: each group offers its own kind of feedback.

In an Affirmation Group members say what they liked, and why. While Critique Group members do this as well, often the writer is simply waiting for them to get to the “meat of the matter,” which is usually the criticism, or suggestion of how to improve. So all that feedback about what the listeners liked can be glossed over within the meeting and in the mind and heart of the writer, while the writer prepares to receive with an attitude of gratitude a pointed criticism.

It’s not that criticism is bad or superfluous; it’s simply something writers tend to take with steeled nerves. Whereas in an Affirmation Group, everyone knows the feedback will ALL be good. So the writer relaxes, and leans in to the task of writing well, and sharing honestly. They feel safe. The writing comes from a wonderful place of being able to trust the group with the tender, unpolished bits of life that are so close to a writer’s heart. The flotsam and jetsam of life that might otherwise never see the light of day!

For new writers and published pros, this can be a refreshing change of pace—and a great place to build upon. After all, feeling affirmed in who we are as writers is the bread and butter of being able to enter into the next level of receiving constructive criticism. If we feel affirmed in our creative personhood, we will not become defensive when a colleague offers to improve our writing. In fact, we will embrace them and what they have to say—and we will mean it.

Each kind of group has something to add to a writer’s life—it is a part of the whole. Thankfully, there is a time and place for both.

July 17, 2013


The tide of Christian beliefs and values has been receding from Canada’s shores from sea to shining sea for several decades. As God is the author and only source of life, a drift away from Him inevitably leads away from a love of life to a culture of death.

Abortion is the first and obvious indicator of society embracing this focus. It won’t stop there. Aborted babies delivered alive are regularly disposed of, and post birth abortion—a half-sanitized name for infanticide—is already under discussion.

Of course, euthanasia and assisted suicide gleefully follow their mentor’s footsteps further devaluing life. Life in Canada is no longer sacred; it only has value if it is wanted or promises a nebulous quality of life.

Now even sexual curriculum being proposed for schools will promote anal and oral sex, masturbation, homosexuality, bisexuality, and preferred gender change and experimentation, all as equal sexual choice alternatives.

The common thread? All alternatives to heterosexuality are barren, reinforcing the culture of death. For abortion and alternate sexual preferences are inextricably linked; both are driven by the desire to separate sexual recreation from procreation, a denial of life.

Respect for life issues from a respect for God who is its only source. It is not surprising that major movers for life are Christians. Now, a strong and burgeoning pro-life movement is spearheading the advance opposing the current cultural rush to ration life, both in Canada and the States.

Loathing of life is a slap in the face of God, the giver of life. For the life He gives is not just a breathing existence. His amazing grace and costly redemption usher in a depth, meaning, and direction of life obtainable from no other source.

July 15, 2013

To Everything There Is a Season - Tracy Krauss

I've been sitting in front of a blank computer screen for about ten minutes, pondering what to write. This is relatively unknown territory for me. "Writer's block' is not something I experience very often. Usually I find myself so busy with 'life' that when I sit down to write I have more than enough to say. What makes this day different?

I'm not sure. Perhaps I'm preoccupied with thoughts of my first grandbaby. (She is 10 days old and without a doubt the cutest baby ever born. Just sayin'.) Or maybe the untimely death of my son's friend on Canada Day after an ATV accident has me thinking about the brevity of life. My son had his own, unrelated, accident three weeks ago and has been off work recovering. I can't help but reflect on the fact that I could very well have been in those other parents' shoes...

These events are at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of the human experience - literally life and death. It reminds me of one of my favorite passages from Ecclesiastics 3. "To everything there is a season... A time to be born and a time to die; a time to laugh and a time to mourn...' We've experienced both of these scenarios in very tangible ways this month. Yet, despite these milestones, ordinary life also continues at a steady pace.

As Christian writers we have the opportunity to record every aspect of life's journey. Whether we are offering hope in a dark situation or sharing our joy, we can inspire and encourage someone else simply by sharing our own experiences or creating stories that point to Christ. Good writing, whether fiction or non-fiction; poetry or prose, must offer something that our audience can relate to. Someone, somewhere, needs to know that they are not alone; needs to laugh, cry, empathize, ponder, and question.

This is our calling as Christian writers, no matter the style or genre. Continue to push forward in your calling, fellow writers. Someone, somewhere needs to hear from YOU.

Tracy Krauss continues to pursue her passion for writing from her home in Tumbler Ridge. BC. She has several novels and plays in print and is currently working on the 'next big thing' while enjoying her summer off from teaching. Visit her website at http://tracykrauss.com to see all her published work, or sign up for her newsletter to get all the latest.

July 13, 2013

Spoiled by T. L. Wiens

I was at the house of an elderly couple. The husband had a severe infection in his leg and the wife was worn out from looking after him. Their daughter came under the guise of helping out Mom and Dad. The husband had a guest and was busy visiting in another room. The wife fell onto the chair next to me and leaned up against the table, gasping for breath. (I was blocked behind the table.) She’d aged ten years in the two weeks since her husband got sick.

Their daughter emerged from the room where the husband was visiting. “Mom, the men need coffee.”

Mom waved her arm and pointed in the general direction of the coffee pot. “It’s right there.” She was too tired to get off her chair.

The daughter stared at her mother and then at the coffee pot before returning to the other room. A few minutes later, she again demanded her mother to come fill the coffee cups in the next room. Finally, the guest came into the kitchen, grabbed the coffee pot and served the coffee.

I wish this was a fiction story but it’s not. When I look at this forty something year old daughter, I’m disgusted at her behaviour. But she’s only acting out from her upbringing—she’s spoiled.

I’m visiting a church. We are asked to sing a last song as a means of ending the service. The worship leader apologizes because this is a youth focused service and this last song will be a hymn. I’m shocked and appalled that there would be that much intolerance to singing a worship hymn simply because it was a hymn. But the people are just following the lead of the decision makers of this church body.

I fear for the church that has become like a spoiled child. The Bible says in Proverbs 13:24,

Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Discipline? The church cannot even tolerate singing a song that may not fit their style.

Spoiling is not loving as we see in Proverbs. The end result will be the same for both the elderly couple and the church—selfish children, demanding when they should be serving. From I Corinthians 13, we know love is the greatest gift. Jesus demonstrated His love for us by dying on a cross while we were still sinners. How can a spoiled generation find Truth when preoccupied with self-indulgence? How can we as writers help bring love back into focus in the church?

July 11, 2013

And The Winner Is...

Steph Beth Nickel
(from Ontario)

Congratulations on being our winner, Steph!

A BIG thanks to everyone who entered our
Canada Day Birthday Present Giveaway ~
we appreciated your enthusiastic response.

 Brenda Leyland
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July 10, 2013

The Lord of the Harvest by Sharon Espeseth

"He (Jesus) told them, "'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'" (Luke 10: 2 NIV)

This part of our Gospel reading for last Sunday still rings in my ears. Combining the story that follows  with our web moderator's suggestion to write about our prayer concerns for Canada led me directly to what InScribe proposes to do.

Click on the link and scroll down to Purpose: http://www.inscribe.org/about-inscribe/

Jesus sent out 72 workers to go, two by two, into every town and place where he planned to go himself. Our group, ICWF, has about double that number of workers. As members we work together, sometimes even two by two, to share the good news with our fellow Canadians. We pray for Canada and we share our writing with Canada.

Our message? The same one Jesus gave the workers he sent out. "The kingdom of God is near you." That's a simple message. We need to proclaim it in spoken and written word. We need to live it. Jesus told us we are to offer our message peacefully. Our opening line and our opening attitude must be, "Peace to this house!"

Jesus says that carrying out his message may not always be easy. "See," he warns, "I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves." The tidings we bring won't always be well-received. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says, ". . . We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12)

Lecturing in Toronto on June 8, Catholic academic and apologist, Peter Kreeft, urged Christians to wage cultural and spiritual warfare. Kreeft, philosophy professor at Boston College, says, "Spiritual warfare is a necessity, not an option for all Christians." He explains, "Christ came to our world to make war, war against greed and lust and pride." By standing up to anti-Christian aspects of culture, Kreeft says, we will "make peace with neighbour, self and God."

Kreeft encourages us to educate ourselves as Christians. He mentions Christian education and reading the words of the saints. We also need to study God's word. We must be aware of and ready to ward off the rise of anti-Christian influences.

And how are we to do this? With simplicity. Luke in chapter 10 expands the list of what Jesus tells his workers not to haul with them. "Do not take along any gold or silver or copper in your belts; take no bag for the journey, or extra tunic, or sandals or a staff; for the worker is worth his keep." It's not about money or the power it brings. It's not about fashion or variety. Working for the Gospel entitles you to be fed, but don't go to several houses to see who provides the best meals. Stay at the first house where you are welcomed.

The gospel bearers were asked to take on poverty. Then, as Pope Francis said recently, "I have no riches, my only wealth is the gift I received, God," and with God come his free gifts of grace and salvation. The Holy See recommends letting God's grace grab the spotlight.  He also reminds us, "The Church does not engage in proselytism. Instead, she grows by attraction."

For our Canada theme on InScribe Writers Online, I suggest we pray about our writing, then write and submit to secular and religious publications. Individually and collectively, we will bring the message to our nation that the kingdom of God is near. May God lead us and bless our country with his love, grace, salvation, and peace.

July 09, 2013

Faith Enough - Shirley S. Tye

In 2004, I felt God urging me to use my writing to encourage people. I did just that for about six years; writing and telling stories to various groups who called on me. The stories which I wrote were used as tools to encourage and teach others with the hope they’d see who they truly are in God’s eyes and learn of His plans for them. I also wrote regularly for a local magazine.

But there are twists and turns, and hills and valleys, and detours on the road of life. Changes can be difficult to accept and adjust to. For the past three years, since my move back to my hometown, my storytelling and writing have not been in demand. In fact, none of my talents are in demand as they were in the previous town. I’m a stranger in my hometown. So here I sit….not even sure where it is I’m sitting now. It certainly isn’t the mountain top because there is no view, just a thick forest with many trails. Which trail should I take? What does God want me to do now? This waiting is aggravating. I’m a person of action. Is this a test? It feels like a test? How am I doing? Not too good; I’m impatient and cranky.

I’m just idly sitting here swinging my legs, wondering, praying, and reading His Word. Where is God; why doesn’t He say something; why doesn’t He give me direction; why aren’t my talents being utilized? I’m restless. I’m trying to exercise patience. But I haven’t given up. I have faith enough that God is still with me even though I can’t feel His presence; faith enough to believe that God will speak to me or He may be speaking now, I just have to clean my ears – yeah, I know, clean my heart too; faith enough that He has a plan for me; faith enough that what I’m learning now will help others, I’ll be able to encourage others again.

I don’t understand this quiet isolated place I’m stuck in but I have faith enough that God will bring about a change soon. After all, He is in control. I’m in good hands.

July 08, 2013

What is Cowboy Church -- Vivia Oliver

We're pleased to have one of our InScribe members, Vivia Oliver, join us today as our Guest Blogger here at InScribe Writers Online.

Cowboy Churches have sprung up all over North America like the proverbial bad weed. They seem to be growing at a phenomenal rate, with nearly 700 listed all over Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, as well as all over the USA.

Cowboy church is an evangelical non-denominational Christian fellowship, reaching out to those who like the western way of life. Our aim is to reach out to people who are afraid of traditional organized churches. We lean toward relaxed atmosphere and acceptance of any and all people, common or otherwise. We accept folks from every walk of life, every occupation and ability. There is no dress code at Cowboy church. In some groups they sit at tables and drink coffee during services, without discrimination.

Our goal and mission at Cowboy churches is belief in the inspired word of God and to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus. The main goal is love God and love neighbour; and work toward that end at all times. We care for each other as members, we have prayer ministry, visiting of the sick and helping where needed, or holding memorial services and baptisms, as well as communion services.

Our leadership is made up of members who are picked from people who are dedicated to the future of the church in each area. Constant attendance is a plus in that category. Also people use their God given talents to perform whatever tasks are required to run a good organization. People with musical talents perform, ladies and gentlemen, make coffee and serve at funerals, etc. The minister and helpers visit the sick or young people help with building bees. Horse related activities are held for those with that bent, also camping trips.

So if you’re out looking for a great group of people to worship the Father and Son, look up a Cowboy church. There could be one close by; look up Cowboy church on your internet search engine and you’ll come up with a long list. God bless your results.

Vivia Oliver

July 07, 2013

What is God's Desire for Canada? - Ramona Heikel

I believe that God’s desire for Canada is the same desire he has for all nations: to bless them and to draw them to himself. One way he does that is through believers going outside their homeland to tell others about their faith.

I can see how God blessed the nation of Israel and used it to spread the word about the one true God by drawing Abraham and his family out of their home to a foreign land. There, over time, Abraham’s faith influenced his neighbors. God used Abraham’s great-grandson Joseph, who was sold as a slave to the nation of Egypt, to make himself known to that nation that still worshiped idols made by the hands of men. Joseph demonstrated God’s sovereignty and omniscience by interpreting dreams and correctly warning the Egyptian leaders of an imminent famine, proving the truth and power of Israel’s God.

Before Europeans arrived in our country, the religious beliefs of the land were those of the Aboriginal people, believed to have originally come from Asia. These were largely animistic, and included an intense reverence for spirits and the Creator of nature. French believers settling in the new land beginning in the 17th century brought their Christian faith with them, and established a Roman Catholic population in what are now Nova Scotia and Quebec. This was followed by the English who brought believers of the Anglican and Protestant faiths across the ocean to what eventually became the province of Ontario.

I found it humorous to see how a religious competition accomplished a major change in a region’s faith, and brought blessing to the nation. Around 1700, the first large Protestant communities were formed in the Maritimes after they were conquered by the British. Unable to convince enough British immigrants to go to the region, the government decided to import continental Protestants from Germany and Switzerland to populate the region and counterbalance the Roman Catholic Acadians. This effort proved successful and today that region is still largely Lutheran.

Look how God used the great explorer and mapmaker, David Thompson. Thompson, growing up in England in a poverty-stricken family, found work overseas with the Hudson Bay Company of Canada. He suffered great hardships and setbacks, but wanted to share his faith with natives, so he carried his Bible with him into the bush and held services. When asked why he endured the difficulties of such a life, he said, “…so that these physically impenetrable barriers may be traversed and the Gospel be spread.”

It is fascinating to see how a sovereign Lord used various strategies to populate and influence this new, sparsely populated land, and I am grateful for the spiritual light that came to Canada and has stayed for all these hundreds of years. That is not to say that every person in Canada puts their faith in Christ, but that our nation’s policies and cultures do welcome and embrace the Christian faith.

It has been recently suggested that although once central and integral to Canadian culture and daily life, Christianity is on the decline. Canada is said to be in a post-Christian period, with irreligion on the rise, and the practice of religion is now generally considered a private matter. Apparently the majority of Canadians consider religion to be unimportant, but still believe in a God.

I wouldn’t exactly say that we have come full-circle, because I don’t believe that most people in our country worship man-made idols or elements of nature. But I do believe that God has the same plan He has always had for our nation, and that he has strategies in mind and in place to continue to use believers to draw all people to Him. His will shall be done, and those of us who embrace his will shall be used to accomplish it. He may move us around to places that need his light, like he did with Joseph and David Thompson, or bring others to us. So we best be prepared, however we can, as we wait for him.

Ruler Supreme, who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our Dominion in Thy loving care,
Help us to find, O God, in Thee,
A lasting, rich reward,
As waiting for the better day
We ever stand on guard.

(O Canada, last verse)

Posted by Ramona

Some references:

Aboriginal religion - Native North American Religious Traditions: Dancing for Life - Page 5, Jordan D. Paper – 2007

Religious competition - Beverley, James and Barry Moody, Editors. The Journal of Henry Alline. Lancelot Press for the Acadia Divinity School and the Baptist Historical Committee. 1982.

Christianity in decline - "Canada". Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. http://berkleycenter.georgetown.edu/resources/countries/canada


David Thompson, quoted in Canada: Portraits of the Faith website, http://ca.geocities.com, retrieved February, 2004.


July 06, 2013

Canadian Immigration Ruse - Glynis M. Belec

For eleven years I wrote a column in our local newspaper. That was the beginning of my writing career.

I had mustered up enough courage to submit an article for consideration. Before I knew it our wonderful small-town editor was requesting 'more.' She invited me to write a weekly column and she said they would pay me $2 a column inch. God was blessing me mightily. Life was good. My family were incredibly decent sports. Sometimes I would pick on them or I would write about inspirational moments or day to day joy-filled experiences. I talked about parenting and the weaknesses and worries I experienced as I tried my best to be a good mom. If I could find a snippet of humour in the everyday, I was off and running.
I remember one column way back in 1991.. Happy Hubby and Raymond were the focus. Raymond was a sweet young lad who had just started working for my hubby in his sign business. I guess they didn't have too much on the go on this particular day. Oh how well I remember.

It was mid afternoon. The telephone rang.

"Glynis Belec?"

"Yes," I replied, wondering who the official sounding voice was. (No call display back then!)

"This is Mr. Soblofski from Immigration Canada."

I perked up a little since I had recently applied for my Canadian Citizenship. Maybe they were calling me to tell me that all was in order and that I could come and be sworn in as an official Canadian.

"Hello," I continued in a cheery voice.


Then I heard it.

"Mrs. Belec. I am afraid I have some bad news," the voice on the other end announced.

I felt my heart sink and I gulped.


"It seems there is a problem with your paperwork and when you came to Canada as a child in 1967 there was some incomplete information and you have been living in Canada illegally. I have to advise you that as of the end of the week you will hereby be deported back to England until this matter can be resolved."

"What?" I was horrified and devastated. And confused and, and...well suffice to say I responded in high frequency tones.

"I can't leave. I have young children and a husband. I can't just pick up and leave Canada. There must be some mistake."

I was slowly losing my cool. I was bordering on frantic.

It seemed Mr.Soblofski from Immigration Canada was getting equally upset as he heard me getting upset. As I rambled...he started giving me suggestions like how my husband could take time off work or perhaps I might consider hiring Raymond for a babysitter...
Raymond? What was this government official talking about?

I had been had. It was Raymond hamming it up, egged on by my hubby. It was all a prank. The rollicking laughter on the other end of the phone was a clear indicator that their mission was accomplished.  Oh did I have fun with them in my column the following week. The rascals had me for a moment but I sure had fun writing about their dastardly deed.

And so my joy continued. It seemed I was never short for material. God opened my eyes to the everyday opportunities and ideas. That editorial was my sweet beginning. Eventually, in 1997 it was time to retire my column and get busy with other things. Every so often when I need a reminder about how life made me laugh back then and how blessed I was with a wonderful family (and others) who let me write about them week after week, I pull out the faded newspapers and 'have a read.'

P. S. I ended up getting my Canadian citizenship at the end of 1991 without a hitch. Funny though, I never met Mr. Soblofski. Probably fired him!

July 03, 2013

Are You Lost in Space? - Janis Cox

"Lost ... in ... space" - do you remember those words?

Sometimes I get lost in computer space.

I knew that connections were important and I have made some great Internet friends. But I do tend to get clicking on my computer and lose track of time.

I needed help!

God showed me that I could get more accomplished in a shorter period of time if I followed these five easy steps:
  1. Don't get sidetracked. Turn off email alerts, Facebook alerts or anything that will distract you from the job at hand. Make your program set so you are in control. Then you can check your emails, Facebook or whatever when you want to.
  2. Follow your passion. Do your writing (or whatever is top on your list) first not last. You can choose your priorities.
  3. Work on your Internet connections but don't forget those you can phone or see. Choose which social media that you will concentrate on. You can't do them all and do them well. Don't fret about the others. Do the social media that works for you and do that well.
  4. Take care of yourself. Take regular breaks from your computer screen. If you can't remember set a timer. Give your eyes a break and exercise your body. Here are links to Kimberley Payne's videos on how to do easy stretches at your computer.
  5. Don't Stress, Reassess. Check over your priorities often. Ask God to show you the proper order. Then write that plan in bold letters above your computer. And take time to do this. Do a mini version every day.

What keeps you focused on the thing that God is calling you to do?
How can I pray for you?

Janis, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. She has published a couple of devotionals and a number of articles.

As owner of a group blog Under the Cover of Prayer and a blogger at He Cares for Us she writes often.

Her children's book, Tadeo Turtle, won the best children's book at The Word Awards.

Janis blogs a little creative on Creative Saturdays. 
Email her at Janis or visit her at www. janiscox.com.