October 30, 2015

When Discouraged, Give Thanks by Susan Barclay

Your problem is you still believe in your own life. ~Volkheimer to Werner in 'All the Light We Cannot See' (Anthony Doerr)
This quote pretty much sums up how I've been feeling recently. Discouraged, disappointed and sad that I don't have more time to write, that other obligations demand so much of me, that my life is not, in fact, my own. I understand that there are seasons and that you can't control everything that comes your way, but still. I'd rather be writing. Amen?

I'm reminded that we're to give thanks in all things. So I give thanks that even though I'm not able to write as much as I'd like, there are things that I'm able to do. I can:
  • write a little bit. I even submitted a couple of pieces this week, which was maybe more than I could have hoped for.
  • work.
  • be there for my family: my husband, who has a lot on his plate; my daughter, away at school but within reach; my son, as he makes important decisions about his future; my mom, who is living with us right now.
  • participate in my monthly book club and enjoy books that show me what great writing looks like (and what not-so-great writing looks like, too!)
  • attend my monthly writers' group meetings, even when I don't have anything to share. I can help others move forward with their own work.
  • enjoy the weekly fellowship of my church small group.
I'm also thankful for all the things I have:
  • the love and prayers of family and friends, both those near and those far away.
  • my dog's unconditional love. Sometimes even fur-family can be like Jesus with skin on (and I hope it's not sacrilegious to believe so!)
  • shelter
  • food
  • income
  • health
  • clothing
  • transportation
God wants us to be thankful even when life isn't going the way we'd hoped or planned. The best way to be thankful is to look around (as I have done here), then make a list and refer to it often as a way of remembering all the blessings. As Kristin Armstrong says,
When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.
When we experience the fullness of love, God's love, does anything else really matter?
Please also enjoy my website at www.susanbarclay.wordrpess.com

October 29, 2015

Being Grateful for Where I am - Ruth L. Snyder

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (NIV)

This month we are asked to share an experience in our writing life when we found that to give thanks in everything was especially difficult.

Last year I had many wonderful opportunities in my writing life. I had several novelettes and a devotional book published and was able to grow my network of writing friends, learn new skills, and try new challenges. Through this process, I received an invitation from an editor to submit a novel I was working on. She told me she really liked what she saw in the first twenty thousand words and she would offer me a contract once I submitted the whole manuscript to her. I was ecstatic about this opportunity and worked hard. However, when I was at sixty thousand words, I knew I needed to put the project on the shelf, at least for the time being, so that I could spend more time with my children.

I found this very difficult, because I was being asked to put aside something I enjoyed doing and knew I could do well. Every time someone asked me how my writing was going, I felt those pangs of embarrassment, defeat, and even anger. Why did God give me the ability and opportunity to write this novel, only to yank it away from me?

Often I find myself focusing on my problems instead of seeing the big picture. If I allow myself to continue doing this, my problems seem to grow and multiply. One thing that has helped me immensely is choosing gratitude. Giving thanks - writing or speaking what I am grateful for - takes the focus off the problem and restores my perspective. So, in my writing life, I am choosing to be thankful for the writing projects I AM able to pursue while my children are still young and at home. I may not be able to write a novel right now, but I can write blog posts and devotionals incorporating lessons God is teaching me through my children. They will sprout up and fly off soon enough. In the meantime, I can use my time to enjoy making memories with them and also share what I'm learning on the journey. This focus keeps me encouraged and also helps other parents who may be struggling.

As I focus on gratefulness, I'm reminded that:

  • God is faithful
  • God is loving
  • God is all-powerful
  • God created me and knows me better than I know myself
  • God granted me the ability to write

If I truly want to glorify God with my writing, then I need to trust Him to open and close the doors of opportunity.

How have you found gratitude helps you?

October 28, 2015

Is There Any Escape from Noise? by Bruce Atchison

Finding quietude is such a rare experience in our world these days. Flatulent vehicles, blasting stereos, roaring jet planes: they all ruin our repose.

My professional writing career started out poorly. Those churlish next door neighbours assumed nobody would mind all those shrieking boys their son invited over. Neither should anybody dislike hearing their dogs barking each evening for hours on end. After all, everyone likes dogs, don't they? The same goes for loud music and clouds of barbecue smoke, right?

I found no escape from noise for those first four years. Believing that I could have more say over noise at a condo, I sold my house and bought one. What a huge mistake. The rumble of traffic and junky cars coming into the parking lot created tremors in the floor I could actually feel. Worse yet, a belligerent young man figured that he could tune up cars in the parking lot and nobody should complain about the racket. When I did, he became as incensed as my previous neighbours.

Fearing for my life, I moved to an adults-only high rise. That was a big mistake too. The suites were being sold as condos, prompting people to renovate them throughout the  day and long into the evening. One old man also used a storage space next to my bedroom daily as his carpentry shop. He gave the apartment manager many lame excuses when I complained but she ordered him to stop. Even so, renovating continued unabated.

Renting the main floor of a house became my third blunder. The neighbours ran a tow truck company out of their home. Diesel rumblings and their loud backyard music broke my concentration daily. Those owners also became enraged when I politely asked them to turn down the stereo volume

Our heavenly Father showed his compassion by delivering me from the noisy city to a quiet hamlet. It had everything I asked for. Radway had a grocery store, a drugstore, a post office, and my house was across the tracks. No nearby neighbours derailed my train of thought either.

I praise and thank the Lord daily for my miracle home. The money, the listing, and the right real estate lady providentially came together to rescue me from the torment of city noise. Living here is like a permanent writing retreat. What an awesome God we serve!

October 27, 2015

Contentment...What A Gift! By Melanie Fischer

I remember the days when I put myself to sleep by dreaming about winning the lottery.

In those days, I was always wanting more rather than stopping to be grateful for what I had. Thanks to Jesus's grace and patience, I am beginning to learn one of the most precious lessons of all...


Paul speaks beautifully about learning how to be content.

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11-13

In my journey to contentment, it certainly isn't that I never find myself in a lineup that I wished was shorter, or a room that I wished was quieter, or a bank account that I wished was fuller. Life presents us with many opportunities to find thankfulness in moments where it would be easier to find thanklessness. It actually isn't until we find ourselves in such situations that we can learn lessons of contentment.

It is the hard stuff in life that makes us softer. The rough spots give us traction. The tough stuff gives us something to stand on so we can reach new heights. It isn’t until an egg is cracked open that it can be used. It isn’t until muscle is torn that it becomes stronger, and it isn’t until an engine is broken in that it can run to its potential.

Yes, we are sometimes dealt hands that we would rather put back in the deck, but never should we be ungrateful for what we have been given, because the alternative could be that we are given nothing at all.

Lord, please enable us to allow the tough moments in our lives to mould and shape us into great instruments to be used for your glory.

“We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8

October 26, 2015

Thirsty by Marnie Pohlmann

Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse. - Henry Van Dyke

The most difficult part of my writing life, I think, is yesterday.  

I don’t mean literally the day before today, but yesterday as in the way I look at what I previously set down on paper. It’s difficult because I want to change yesterday – I rewrite and I second-guess. Invariably, when someone reads what I wrote, I go back to find a spelling mistake, or see a sentence that could have been reworded. My self-editor soon has me struggling with regret over having shared in the first place, and unwilling to submit anything more.

I am grateful for the opportunity to write, and for others who are interested in what I am writing, but I have trouble expressing that thankfulness when my focus is on what others think, or on my shortcomings.

My husband is a glass-half-full kind of guy, and he has pointed out that I am a glass-half-empty kind of gal. Personality contributes to some of this worldview, he being always up for an adventure and me being more cautious about the unknown. However, many other variables can also determine these perspectives.

Have you ever put the dinner leftovers away and found you chose the wrong size container for the food? Some people have a gift for spatial acuity (like my husband), while I struggle with a fridge full of containers either overflowing or too big for the contents. Could this be the reason I also see my glass as half-empty? I just do not have a good frame of reference for determining how things fit!

Or perhaps thankfulness has more to do with expression of feeling. For example, when a pet dies, some people are devastated and need to build memorials. Others get on with the burial without shedding a tear. We may think the emotional response means one loved their pet more than the stoic response, but that may not be the case. Grief can look vastly different for different people. Their beliefs, previous experiences, coping skills and methods, and personalities are all factors shaping what their sorrow looks like. Could it be the same for thankfulness?

Each of us is unique, so how we respond to the same circumstance can look completely different. Half full or half empty - these may not be good or bad, just different ways of looking at a situation. Seeing the good in yesterday’s writing may cause me to celebrate, and seeing the reality of a situation may create angst, but these are simply perspective. I become a better writer by not ignoring that what I wrote yesterday could use improvement, and seeing the opportunities can motivate me to continue.

How full is your glass?
God gives each of us different kinds of glasses, so it can be difficult to tell the level in a glass when the containers are different sizes or shapes. Maybe a glass looks full because the glass itself is smaller, so appears fuller even though it carries the same amount as a larger glass.

I am learning, though, and the fact remains, that whether I see my glass as half-full or half-empty, the glass still has room for more! 

No matter how I describe it, both glasses can hold an additional amount.  I believe God would prefer each of us, no matter the shape of our glass, to seek to have our glass over-flowing. He speaks in Scripture of abundant life.

We cannot fill the glass on our own. Choosing an attitude of thanksgiving helps us be content with the glass we have, but the glass is no fuller. We must go to the source to be filled. I cannot change my yesterday, but I can seek improvement for my tomorrow. That is important in my writing, and in my life. By going to the tap, or as Jesus said, to the well of Living Water, my glass can be filled.

Yes, when I look at my yesterday, I often see the glass half empty. When I look at tomorrow, I fear my glass may once again become half-empty. When I look at today, I see my glass with all its imperfections, yet I am grateful to have the glass. And when I focus on the maker of my glass, He pours into me abundantly. 

I know the well of Living Water who can fill me. Filled to overflowing, no matter the shape of my glass, no matter the circumstances of life, no matter what my self-editor has to say. Then even this glass-half-empty gal cannot help but express thanksgiving to God.

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. (John 7:38 NIV)

October 25, 2015

The Good Life By Vickie Stam

Mom & Dad 1956

    Every Friday the 13th there is a motorcycle rally in Port Dover, a small town nestled along the shores of Lake Erie. Bikes line every inch of the sidewalks, grass and parking lots. Not a crevice is left open. If one fell over its ripple affect might be felt for miles. And the people come from far and wide to see more than 100,000 motorcycles perched under one tiny area  of God's glorious sky. I can almost smell the leather from my home just ten minutes north of Dover. It truly is a sight to see!

But on February 13th 2009, it was cold. Still, the bikers came. Not as many though. The local newspaper reported around 10,000. I remained warm and cozy inside my home. Supper was on the stove. It was an ordinary February day.... that is until the phone rang.

"Hello" I said.

I recognized my mother's phone number on my call display. At first I thought she was calling just to talk about the motorcycles. She was always intrigued by the event and liked to talk about it at great length.

"What are you doing?" She asked. 

"I'm just getting supper ready. How about you?"

"Not much really. But I did call to talk to you about something." She said. "I called to let you know that I haven't been feeling well lately. I went to the doctor's last week for a check up and an ex-ray of my chest."

"Likely just a cold you have." I replied without giving her a chance to go on. But she didn't wait. Without skipping a beat, she kept talking, "I have lung cancer. The doctor confirmed it today." Nothing in her voice sounded different than any other day. In fact, she seemed so calm.

I felt my heart plunge. And before I could say a word, she carried on once again. 
"I've had a good life. I've watched my three girls grow up and have kids of their own and I've enjoyed being a grand-mother too."

"I've had a good life." She said as she were saying good-bye to me.

 Tears slid down my cheeks. I wasn't sure how to respond. There was a long pause. An unforgettable silence between us before I finally whispered, "But, I'm not ready to let you go." 

Two weeks later my family squeezed into the doctor's office and listened intently to what he had to say. "You need to have surgery to remove a portion of your lung. Without it, you will be dead in less than nine months."

He was so matter of fact. No Beating around the bush. His bedside manner was pretty cool. That's probably why my mother's bottom lip began to quiver. She smoked and she knew the risk. Deep down, I'm sure she wished it wasn't happening. Over the years I learned to read her body language. She announced her refusal of an operation without uttering a single word, yet forty eight hours later she was recovering in ICU. We had convinced her to fight back. Check up after check up, the doctor told us she was, "Cancer free." My family was elated. My prayers had been answered.

July rolled around and mom and I were out shopping. It felt good to be out with her again. And then, one night shortly after our trip to the mall she called me.

"Vickie, I'm having trouble breathing."

"Go to the hospital, mom." I said without hesitating.

Fluid was drained from her lungs and we were assured it was an infection. I breathed a sigh of relief. But less than a week later she was back in the hospital. This time they did a biopsy.

"You have lung cancer. You're in stage four and there is nothing we can do for you."

The word, "nothing" screamed inside my head. I wanted to lunge at the doctor in the white lab coat, make him take back his words. He had to be wrong. She had fought so hard to beat the cancer. I was stunned. There was nothing to be thankful for anymore. Everything  seemed... all for nothing. A flood of pain washed over me. I wanted to crumble under its weight. I begged God not to take her away from me. I pleaded with him. 

Seven weeks later she died even though I had begged him not to take her. For a while, I felt like I was in some sort of in-between state. I knew she was no longer suffering but I wanted her here with me. Why did God take her away when I wasn't ready? I could still picture her sitting in that chair in the doctor's office, her head nodding. She didn't want the surgery. I wondered why we made her do it. I didn't think it was selfish of us. We loved her.

It's not always easy to praise God in the difficult times. But when I look back I can see so many blessing in that trial. I feel blessed because I know she's in heaven. I feel blessed because she called me that same day to share such dreadful news, all the while expressing her own blessings to me. She wasn't saying good-bye. She was leaving me a wonderful memory.

 Every Friday the 13th, I can almost smell the leather but more importantly , I remember my mother telling me, "I've had a good life."

I love and miss you always.

October 24, 2015

Closed Doors - by Tandy Balson

When I started my writing journey it seemed that all the right doors were opening for me. My small measure of success was enough to encourage me to keep on writing. My blog grew from 25 subscribers to 100. The few that were unknown to me were the most exciting.

A few pieces I submitted for publication were accepted and I felt I could legitimately call myself a writer.

Then things changed. Comments on my blog posts became non-existent. I started to doubt my calling. 

Rejection became more frequent than acceptance. On the outside I smiled and congratulated my colleagues on their success. Although I was happy for them I was also disappointed that success wasn’t smiling upon me. I wondered what had gone wrong.

It appeared that the doors I was knocking on were remaining firmly closed. Why was this happening? Was I focused on the wrong doors? Were there others I should try?

I gained some insight when I read All The Places to Go: How Will You Know by John Ortberg.  In it he talks about God placing doors before us. When they are open, it’s our choice to go through them or not. The doors that God closes cannot be forced open, no matter how hard we try. A line from the book that had great meaning for me was, “Someday, somehow, in a way none of us now can understand, we will be as grateful for the closed doors as we are for the open ones now.”

Perhaps the closed doors were there because I had more to learn before I would be ready to go through them. Maybe I was trying to do too much in my own strength rather than waiting for guidance from God.

All I know for sure is that the plan is not my own. My job is to be aware of the doors before me and learn from both the open and closed ones. I have faith that God will open the right doors for me as I walk closely with him and pay attention to his leading.

October 23, 2015

Letters of Love by Lynn J Simpson

Reflecting on this month's theme of Thanksgiving, my thoughts return to many moments of friends, of words spoken and written this past year, that encouraged me during an emotional healing time. If I was to write all of them, this post would end up a novella! Just writing this I feel my heart humbled by His love for me, His patience, and perfect timing. Below is an excerpt from a writing on my personal blog, a story of one of those moments. 

November 2, 2014

I walked into the church, a heart full of gratitude. The evening before I was blessed with 15 friends in my home for a 'Thanksgiving' friendship dinner. During the evening I gave each guest a handmade card and they wrote their name on the front. Each of these cards were passed around and each of us wrote a gratitude, a loving message of encouragement to each other. I could feel hearts of love, of peace. But what brought tears to my eyes, and made my heart 'hurt' with love, was the end of the evening. Passed to me was a package of notes. Notes of gratitude and encouragement from each friend to ME that had been written BEFORE the party. 

In the quiet, after everyone had left, the smell of turkey lingering, I sat on my couch and read each note. Then bowed my head to God. I have no words, I prayed. I don't understand. I don't deserve..... Words of a few close friends came to mind, "You are amazing and loved Lynn. Receive this." 

And then my heart whispered. 

Receive My love. Trust Me with what words I want You to hear, what relationships I want you to have. Don't try so hard. 

Just receive My love for you. 

I bowed my head deeper in gratitude, tears flowing.

May you have moments today that make you heart leap, and your head bow in a gratitude beyond words.  

October 22, 2015

Gratefulness for the Tunnel! By Alan Anderson

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV):  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height not depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It was painful.  It was hard.  It was lonely. It was an opportunity to explore within myself.  It was a time of searching, for questioning and evaluating the meaning of my life.  It was a time of feeling lost and not knowing where God was.  My life, my world, my soul was falling apart.  This time in my life surprisingly set a direction for my writing!

I was working full time to support my family.  I was a co-pastor of a church that held to a firm stand on doctrine and theology.  I was also trying to work on a Masters degree by taking a course or two each year at seminary.  Life was busy.  Life was not too satisfying!  There had to be more to life than all this busyness and church performance.  God was not very clear in this picture.  Life was imbalanced.  Something had to give and it was and I was it

I found myself in what I called the Tunnel!  Sometimes there were pockets of fog in the tunnel.  Those were the really dark times.  At the period of time in which the Tunnel was part of my life it was not what many Christians wanted to hear about.  In my experience the believers I knew would seemingly do all they could to avoid hearing of Christians being in a Tunnel.  Few acknowledged depression!  Depression meant you were weak or had wandered from God or were out of His will!  You were on your own dear brother!

Writing saved me as it were!  Writing was where God spoke to me and I could then speak of God.  Sometimes I sensed God was in the shadows of the Tunnel.  He was near and had never left me and I learned that He understood depression.  God was not afraid to embrace depression and He was not afraid to embrace me in the Tunnel!

In much of my writing God may not be glaringly apparent to many readers and perhaps many Christian writers.  God may not be apparent in depression either!  Many may not even be interested in the darkness of the Tunnel.  I have to say however that after being in this darkness the light shines even brighter! 

I am grateful for the Tunnel.  I found I could survive evaluating the meaning of my life.  I am grateful for my life, as simple as it is!  I am grateful for my family for there I know those who truly love me.  I am grateful for faith in God in spite of the human imperfections of His church.  I am grateful that I can write and not be worried about whether I become a known or famous writer.

For readers who may relate to the Tunnel I trust you can also relate to gratefulness in the fact that the Tunnel need not win.  I am certainly not an authority or expert on depression.  I am however an expert on my experience with depression, at least I think I am!  

 Even in the Tunnel and the threat of soul crushing depression that assaulted me I knew God had not left me.  This is the reality of my gratefulness!

Personal Blog: scarredjoy@wordpress.com

October 21, 2015

Redefining Victory ... by Jocelyn Faire

How did you find your way to victory?

And I still haven't found what I'm looking for.
Most of us can relate to that line from the well known U2 song. I still haven't found complete victory, because I think we will struggle in some fashion until the day we exit the planet.
I believe that survival is under-rated.

She came to a point in her life, where she realized that the victory story was most acceptable in church circles. Everyone in the wooden pews was happy to hear the testimony of she who had overcome, and she who was now back amongst the blessed. Kleenexes were taken from purses to dab at the corners of eyes as the story of how she had overcome was broadcast. And cowering in the corner was another she. The she who was still hoping for victory, praying for the miracle. The she who felt defeated, where could she go? They were waiting till she had crossed to the victory ring to welcome her back into the fold ... she was waiting too. Where could she go, after all the prayers spoken and initial signs of healing, the cancer still took the life, the marriage crumbled, the prodigal son had not returned. The scriptures taunted with hope not realized. It was safer to live in the comfort of despair, because she knew it. Hello darkness, my old friend, I've come to talk to you again. But what of it? When she realized that she was still breathing, and that she had begun to see beauty once again, she had survived ... she who was still blessed, even though the blessing looked different.

Years ago at a church meeting, a discussion happened to suggest that perhaps we should not share stories of excessive hope, because it could leave us feeling discouraged, likely our lives were not going to experience the same miraculous turn about that this person's had. What good was hope, when it disappointed after giving a false expectation, a hope that did not materialize.
And to some extent I could understand both sides of that equation, but more so I thought, if all we hear is doom and gloom stories, added to a long list of thou shalts and shall nots, we get an overriding sense of grey legalism.
In his book The Journey of Desire, John Eldredge share the story of a man who lost his well paid job, due to down sizing. He never gets another good career opportunity, even after repeat positive interviews, and this man came to despise hope, because it set him up for greater disappointment. That is the danger. We accept that it may be easier to live with a sense of resignation, than to have hope bolstered only to be dashed.

And so I, along with many others continue to stumble along towards victory. And I think the concept of victory needs redefining. Victory implies winning over a situation. And sometimes the victory is the emotional battle fought, the learning to live with hope. Truly to survive and continue to put one foot in front of the other, and to put a smile on the face is a victory step. Holding on to Hope.

When Life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear.  Lamentations 3:28, 29 The Message

Jocelyn is the author of Who is Talking Out of My Head, Grief as an Out of Body Experience.
She blogs at: http://whoistalking.wordpress.com

October 20, 2015

Thankfulness in a Small Bundle by Joylene M. Bailey

I have to admit, I haven’t been very thankful lately. Family illness, constant pain, and lack of sleep have ganged up together to rob me of my joy.

Considering the fact that my blog is all about finding joy in everyday life, this is a problem. And it has been niggling at me that I haven’t posted there in awhile.

And then thankfulness arrived in a small spirited bundle. My 23-month old grandson came to visit. 

There is something about being with a toddler that beckons wonder into every moment. Listening to the crunch of fallen dried leaves as we stomp on them, learning new words, celebrating a tower that got to be 7 blocks high, and laughing at the most nonsensical things - these activities, among many others, have reminded me that being thankful for the little things leads to being thankful for the big things.

Just like Bryan Norford wrote in his post this month, “In all circumstances, our joy, peace, and sense of well-being all depend on being thankful.” 

It's true. I'm still in pain. I still need sleep. But being thankful has brought back my joy. Thank God - and an energetic little boy - for that!

Joylene entertains her active little grandson in Edmonton where she lives with her husband - the Cowboy - and looks for joy in everyday life. Find her at scrapsofjoy.com

October 18, 2015

Victim or Victor by Gloria Guest

Thanksgiving has passed for another year but the older I get the more I realize that thankfulness needs to be a year round, daily part of my life.
The trick is….how do I remain thankful even when I don’t feel thankful?
It seems as in all things, thankfulness has everything to do with perspective and nothing to do with mere feelings.
A couple of years ago, just a few weeks before Thanksgiving, my husband was travelling  behind a semi hauling live turkeys, when he noticed that a number of turkeys had found an escape hatch and were dropping onto the highway! Some were immediately killed, others managed to roll first and then run headlong into the ditch. Apparently they had decided not to become someone’s Thanksgiving feast! I am sure most ended up as some coyote’s dinner instead but I like to think that maybe one lucky, brave turkey survived to live another day.
My point is this; when hit with hard times am I going to view myself as the victim who stays put and ends up going nowhere good or am I going to take some risks, drop and roll when hit with life’s punches and run all out for a newfound freedom?  It’s really all in my perspective of the situation; victim or victor.
The past couple of years have not been easy ones for me in my writing life. Due to a situation that escalated into workplace bullying I left my position as a newspaper reporter even though it was a job that I loved and was good at. In the ensuing months and even years, I found myself sinking into the quagmire of depression.
Soon I felt like those victimized turkeys on their way to the slaughter house; I had just accepted my lot in life. Until slowly I came to realize that this was no way to live…stuck and going nowhere fun.
Through the guidance of a good counsellor, I made a decision to stop seeing myself as just a victim of my circumstances and have started to peek my head out of the hole and see what’s out there. 
Since I made that decision I have been amazed at the strength God has given me to take a couple of risks in just in the last month.
-I attended the Inscribe Writer’s Fall Conference. While there I received some much needed rejuvenation from every session I took. I especially felt encouraged in the one on one blue pencil session I risked taking (rather than hiding up in my room which I seriously considered). I shared a portion of a memoir I've been working on which can always be a vulnerable thing, since it is so personal but Bobbi Junior, who is a published memoir author 'didn't bite' and was in fact a great encouragement and support. It definitely felt like one of those 'God moments' in my life that I met with her.
-I have started taking a Creative Writing course through the University of Toronto. So far it has proven to be a wonderfully supportive group that is already helping me to think of ways I can branch out further in my writing. I am encouraged to see how God uses many avenues to help me along the path to become a better writer, both Christian and secular.

Victorious - with my husband
at the top at Algonquin
Park in Ontario.
I have also been blessed in other ways. A friend invited me to join an exercise class with her. My husband and I were able to fly down to Ontario to visit our son who is in the military, who we rarely see, and his new wife for Thanksgiving weekend. This week my sister, who I also rarely see, is coming for a visit. All of these experiences and more are showing me that God has not forgotten me and that no matter what has happened to me in the past He wants me to fully participate in the life that He has given me.
But first it took a risk; victim or victor?
Thankfully, due to God’s Grace and the support from those He brings my way I can say that this turkey (aka writer) is choosing to be a Victor.
For that I am thankful.