August 29, 2017

Life Is In The Interruptions by Bob Jones

“Maybe life IS the interruptions,” wrote Janice Dick.
As a pastor I can say a solid “amen” to that.

I used to work hard at time management and schedules to avoid interruptions. Now I work hard at life management to include interruptions.

Much of effective pastoral care is usually found in the interruptions.
The man widowed after 45 years of marriage whose call interrupts message prep about Biblical families because he needs help making sense of his newly single life.
The distraught mother whose call interrupts Board agenda prep because her adult son was just found dead in his apt.
The novice small group leader whose text interrupts budget prep needing to know why the God he is teaching about is so heartless in the Old Testament.
The seeker who shows up at the office interrupting an evangelism training seminar because they passed by the church and saw the sign that says, “Come as you are.” And so they’ve come. Now. To talk. About God.

In reading the Gospels two things stand out to me about how Jesus dealt with work and interruptions. Jesus was busy. Why else would John record in his gospel that if everything Jesus did was written down, the world would not have enough room to contain all the books about his work. (John 21:25) That’s busy.

But Jesus was never hurried.

Interruptions did not stop his work – they became his work. He was never too hurried to pause.
A woman with an “issue of blood” interrupted him on his way to heal a little girl. He paused. “Who touched me?” The woman was healed and so was the girl.
A blind man in Jericho interrupted Jesus on his journey to Jerusalem by calling out for mercy. His friends tried to quiet him. Jesus paused and healed him.

The longer I have worked at writing, the more I see that the writing life and life in general is not about balance but about priority. Relationships trump rules. People trump schedules. Family trumps just about everything.

Setting your pen down or turning aside from a keyboard to pay attention to an interruption could be the best thing you can do.

As I was writing this post about interruptions I was interrupted by a call from my eldest son and grandson. They’re five hours away in Saskatoon but as close as a Facetime call. An ironic interruption? Not really. Just life. At its best. Hello?

Bob is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He writes to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.

Follow his writing at Pointes Of View.

August 26, 2017

Mugwumps on Tightropes by Marnie Pohlmann

The spotlight rises along a pole that towers above even the highest row of seating. The circle of light stops to single out a lean, muscular man in shapely tights who stands on a small platform at the top.
He picks up a long pole and strikes the pose of a ballet dancer standing on tiptoe with his other foot raised, toes pointing to another platform some distance away. As the audience holds a collective breath he lowers his foot to step off his perch. He then lifts his secure foot away from the safety of the platform, standing for a moment in what appears to be air.  There is no net beneath him. We let out a deep sigh of relief when we notice a translucent wire connecting the platforms on either side of the center ring.

The performer feels the thin wire with his toes, carefully placing one foot in front of another. His eyes look ahead to the far platform. Standing on one foot he sways, the wire shaking. The crowd gasps.  The pole he holds appears to unbalance him and we wonder why he carries such an unwieldy tool. Wouldn't stretching his arms wide provide a less awkward stabilizer?

The tightrope walker reaches the middle of the wire and pauses. Suddenly, he twists around to face the way he came and takes a few steps back toward his starting platform. Then he pauses again and turns once more to continue the path he began.

Again, he spins to change direction, seemingly undecided which direction to walk toward. He walks back across the wire, which dips low in the center. Finally, he spins once more and goes forward, quickly now, almost running, in the direction of the far platform. He climbs from the middle of the wire to safety.

Setting the pole on the platform walls, he turns and lifts an arm in triumph. The crowd erupts with cheers.

The Christian life can seem like a tightrope. We start out confident, leaving our past behind and stepping out in faith onto the narrow road God has laid before us. One step at a time, we choose to live radically for God.

Then, difficulties come. Children, work, illness, finances, and a myriad of other struggles begin to interrupt our life. We lose our balance. Without habits that bring stability, like personal time with God and prayer, we begin to lean left, then right, almost falling and confused as to which way to turn.
Moses warned the children of Israel about this very circumstance.
"So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left." (Deuteronomy 5:32 NIV)

At times like this, we are in danger of not only falling but of becoming a mugwump rather than a strong, confident disciple of Christ. A mugwump is the type of Christian who has their face on one side of the fence, and their "wump" on the other side. They cannot decide which side to commit to so swing back and forth like the tightrope walker, not knowing which direction to go.

After all, some of the Christian life is attractive but so is some of the life we used to live. Sometimes it is simply easier to live on one side, and other times it is easier to live on the other side, so we go back and forth.  Making changes in our daily life choices, our relationships, and our own character to become more Christ-like is not easy!  Scripture tells us,
"Don't go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you--they are totally useless!" (1 Samuel 12:21 NLT)

The tightrope walker shows us that when we put one foot in front of another, we can go forward. Yes, the way is narrow, and sometimes we find ourselves in a valley with a slope to climb. If we look at our feet, we become afraid or confused and lose our balance. However, like the tightrope walker, we must keep our gaze on our goal and then we are able to see our eternal destination rather than the dangers surrounding us.

Scripture, like the circus performer's long pole, gives the balance. When we struggle to maintain balance in life we need to become unbalanced - completely dedicated to God by holding tightly to His Word. To onlookers, this may not appear to be an effective method when it is really what helps keep our position stable. When life tips this way and that, maintaining our relationship with God, concentrating on the character of Christ, and listening to the prompts of the Holy Spirit, will grow us strong enough to fly along our earthly journey like an eagle soars.

Will you, as Joshua did, make the choice to point both your face and your feet toward God?
"But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served? Or will it be the gods of the people in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord." (Joshua 24:15 NLT)

Choose to live radically for God – a step at a time. As you make your way, a great audience of witnesses and angels are cheering.

As I make my choice to follow you, strengthen me to not look to the right or the left. Protect me from the temptation to serve old ways. Your way is narrow like a tightrope yet I trust you to make my feet secure. Guide me safely to You. Your spotlight may not show the thin wire clearly along the way yet I will still take one step at a time, and as I allow you to guide my steps the path will become clearer as it says in Psalm 119:105, "Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

*Photos courtesy of Amy Jasper with her family, having fun as they balance in high places.

Marnie is quite unbalanced these days, feeling like she is slipping off the tightrope of life. However, as she keeps her face and feet toward God, He continues to guide her steps.  Read at Phosphorescent how God's presence in her life helps in the scary times.

August 25, 2017

The Lack of Balance by Vickie Stam

It is now midmorning and like many other mornings, not one word has been added to my collection of short stories, the ones I started writing quite a while ago.

"When you retire, you will have lots of time to write." I remember hearing this statement from a number of friends. I have yet to prove them right.  

The balance between writing and life is complicated. The two haven't seemed to merge with one another. I haven't found them to be as compatible as I had hoped. It's truly a constant battle over, today or tomorrow. Now or later. 

Deep down I would much rather swap laundry and dusting for words and sentences but the truth of the matter is that it's not as easy as it sounds. Time - the perk that I thought was waiting at the end of the retirement rainbow. The seconds, minutes and hours that stretch throughout the day don't always move in harmony with my to do list.   

My writing gets neglected whenever something comes up. Family - children, grandchildren, aging parents with health issues. Volunteer work and friends. A move to a new home. The list seems endless. Everything that makes up the dynamics of my life seems to take priority.

The one thing that I'm certain would help is attending a writing class. It keeps me on track and brings with it - a deadline. It pushes me to write. Being with other writers also encourages me to write.

I guess that should be the next task on my to do list. Find another writing class!


August 22, 2017

Writing and Life: A Balancing Act by Alan Anderson

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.:--Psalm 42:11.

As I begin this post I must confess I am not one who may adequately offer insights into the balance between “life on and off the page.” Perhaps the following will be accepted by readers as the words of one who bears the scars of a once imbalanced life. I am a life still under construction.

Twenty years ago the walls of my life collapsed around me. If not for my family, I would not have survived. I was raising our family with my wife, I was working full-time, I was a part-time seminary student and a bi-vocational pastor. As a husband and father I knew I had to work to support my family. There was nothing unusual about that, of course. I wanted to improve my skill set for ministry and to serve my church at the time.

Somewhere along the line of my life, I forgot about me. I entered into a Tunnel of depression (I wrote about this in a previous post for InScribe). I had failed! I failed my family, I failed my work, and I failed my church. In my search for a way out I read Christian works on God’s strength and stuff like that. I came across an article by a well-known Christian figure from the past. He stated that if we experience such things as burn out, we have stepped away from God’s will. Ouch! That counsel didn’t help. Now I realized I had also failed God! After reading that statement I believed I didn’t want to find my way out.

In time, however, after groping around in the dark, I found my way to the light. My pen and paper helped me dig my way out of the crushing darkness of the Tunnel. The debris of my failure began to be cleared away by the words I wrote. Those precious words that saved me!

I cannot say a verse of Scripture from God’s Word came flashing into my mind. I wish I could for that might sound more “spiritual.” All I can say is, words I wrote to myself, informed me my life had lost balance. In time I left pastoral ministry in order to follow the path God was directing me to. I realized my hope is in God.

Gradually God led me to work/ministry devoted to “my teachers” such as people confined to care homes. Often they are people locked away in their own minds seemingly with no way out. I come alongside them and hear their cries as they pour out their life stories. Oh, the privilege to be gifted with a listening heart!

I continue to struggle at times with balance in my life. I think that is why I believe I am not one to offer insights to other people about balance in life. I am merely a work in progress, I hope.

My heart still grieves at my past failures. Like sin, my failures are like a dead horse that won’t lie down. Even now, as I write this post, I can weep at how much I have failed. My balance, however, was found through the hope God has promised His children. A hope no one, not even my wife or family or closest friends, can offer. A hope that looks beyond my failures, my imbalanced life, and assures me I am loved.


August 21, 2017

Breaking News .... by Jocelyn Faire

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Programming to Bring You This Very Important Public Service Announcement   robinkirbygattodotcom.files.wordpress.

The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
    He thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
 Psalm 33:10 NIV  

The human journey fills with interruptions of our regularly scheduled lives by ...
disaster, joy, babies, disease, beauty, rainbows, cups of tea, storms, phone calls, questioning children, loneliness, reminders that life is not fair
We interrupt whatever you're doing to bring you ...
Interruption ... what does it mean? ... The online dictionary defines it as:

1. to cause or make a break in the continuity or uniformity of (a course, process, condition, etc.). break off or cause to cease, as in the middle of something: (from

This month while contemplating the topic of interruptions ...  planning once again to work ahead, my plans were thwarted once more. Ceasing as in the middle of something became a regular occurrence. My mind was busy taking mental notes of life interruptions that were happening all around me.
My brother in law was in a motor cycle accident, and from the  moment the police arrived at my sister's door to rush her to the hospital to be with him, her life has been turned sideways into an endurance pace for a brain injury recovery. The prognosis is positive, but the days are filled with uncertainty. This accident impacted many lives and events. On another note it meant that my sister and I were now the co-planners for a family baby shower. Even though planned, that baby's arrival is an interruption of eternal significance for my nephew and his wife. That baby girl is a delightful interruption for the smitten first-time around grandparents. My daughter's furlough has been interrupted with uncertainty after the hospitalization of her mother in law. Her mother-in-law has been battling cancer for a number of years, and the unknown leaves my daughter and her husband wondering if they should delay their return to Africa. 
As I type this morning on a lakeside deck, my husband of eight months interrupts my writing with “Would you like a cup of tea?" I say yes as I reflect on the changes/interruptions of my recent status quo to now having nine new grandchildren who have spent the past few days with us at a cabin on Lake of the Woods in Ontario. Four year old Leah sneaks up to me as I write, she only needs to smile to warm my heart. Her brother's shouts have me rushing to the dock to catch one of my best pictures of the summer. Talk about interruptions! I chuckled as I delighted to have a great image for this month's theme. Here is a frog who has been seriously interrupted. (Yes-it is a garter snake swallowing a frog.)

My recent change of marital status has been one of the most wonderful interruptions that has turned the corner after a long stretch of grief processing.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Psalm 16:8 NIV
While writing is not my career, it continues to be an important outlet for the processing of the last dozen years that have been an ongoing series of interruptions. I have prayed for God to continue directing all aspects of my life, especially for the right people to cross my path. I am keenly aware that He is present in all moments. It has been said that interruptions are God's way of getting our attention. I hope to be mindful when it happens. 
The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life—the life God is sending one day by day.  CS Lewis 

August 19, 2017

Wonky Ankles - Joylene M. Bailey

Photo: Pixabay

I wish I had appreciated my ankles while I had them.

But who ever thinks about ankles? They connect one’s feet to one's legs and do myriads of jobs we never even think about as we walk, climb stairs, and dodge obstacles. Until… they don’t work right anymore.

Balance is becoming an issue for me.

These days I tend to fix my eyes on the path just ahead of me to make sure I place my feet on level ground. Uneven ground is not my friend. It sends me into painful wobbles. And so I keep my head down, and focus on the ground at my feet.

I was walking this way the other day on my short jaunt to the mailbox. Eyes down, focused on keeping my balance. 
When I returned to my driveway, I caught something red out of the corner of my eye, and I glanced up to see my large crimson geraniums smiling at me from their planters by the fence. The plum and jasmine coloured petunias waved in cascades by the front door. A flutter of chortling sparrows partied in my giant elm tree. I breathed deeply and tipped my head back to take in the limitless blue sky.
What a lovely day!

All these things I miss every time my focus is on keeping my balance.

Finding balance in life and in writing is important. It is a good thing. It is a necessary thing, for best work and best health. But I must take care lest I get so consumed with achieving perfect balance that I forget to look up, to notice, to appreciate, and to enjoy the wide wonderful world around me, and my place in it.

But of course, the real message of this post is … appreciate your ankles, they’re the only ones you’ve got.  ;)

Joylene writes from Edmonton where she lives with her Cowboy and her wonky ankles. Find her blog at Scraps of Joy.

August 18, 2017

A Balancing Act - Gloria Guest

The young gymnast with perfect poise, seemed to move effortlessly as she manoeuvred on the four inch balance beam. Her name was Nadia Comaneci and she was only thirteen years old, the same age as I was.

I sat with other members of my grade eight gymnastics club, mesmerized by her. That night she received a perfect ten on the beam, an unheard of feat; but it was only the beginning. Nadia Comaneci was about to explode onto the athletic world stage. At fourteen, she would go on to compete in Montreal's 1976 Olympics, receiving seven perfect scores and earning five medals, including three gold. The rest is history.

 Back in my own school gymnasium, I'd try to be like Nadia Comaneci and perform the perfect cartwheel on a practice ‘beam’ which in reality was a low bench and a fair bit wider. But even then it wasn’t easy and I'd fall off more often than not. Over and over I'd practice it, but I never seemed to get it quite perfect and was definitely not ready to graduate to the actual beam. I felt defeated and clumsy.

My bigger failure however, was in failing to see the vigorous training that had been required in order for her to attain those few perfect moments; the many falls she had to have taken, the daunting sacrifices, the expert coaching. All I saw was the perfection.

I no longer attempt cartwheels, let alone on a bench, but life has often become a balancing act in other ways; balancing schedules, family life, personal time and my own pursuits of writing. And believe me when I say that balance in life has never been my strong suit. But since those days in the gym, I have come to accept that I will never attain perfection, on or off the balance beam. Sometimes the grace is more evident in the falling.

The same night that I was privileged to watch Nadia Comaneci, there were other competitors who performed well, stellar even; but perhaps they wobbled, or worse yet, fell. They weren't perfect. But they were able to get back up and compete as if it had never happened, a feat of another kind.

I just need to have enough grace, to get up and try again and to let others do the same.

*Originally published under the column entitled A Slice of Life by Gloria Guest in the Moose Jaw Express (2011)

August 17, 2017

Do you believe in things unseen? - by Rohadi

Writers do. We can pick floating ideas seemingly out of thin air and then...we turn them real.

Anybody can have an idea, but few people will do something about them.

What we do with those unseen ideas matter. Where most others will spend the time watching Netflix, a writer will satiate their ingrained human trait for adventure by creating.

Artists create, we execute, we produce, we ship. And it takes work.

Not only does it take work, but the craft is work, and if not treated as such, that idea, the book, the poem, the song, will never get done.

It may sound trite, but you have to, “just do it”.

The spiritual comparison would be the vicious cycle that prevents activity called “prayer”. Not prayer itself, but the excuses we use with it like, “I’ll pray about it,” which often translates into the veiled answer of, “I’ll do nothing about it.” We need to pray, “as we are going”….

When I decided to treat my writing as a job I scheduled the time as I would any other important task. It was still hard to fight resistance and do literally anything else, but adjusting my perception from hobby to profession helped me complete. It lead me to the place, through scheduled routine, where the idea planted in my head turned into a tangible work one could see, read, touch, and feel.


Visit Rohadi at his blog.

August 16, 2017

Life and Writing: Striking the Right Balance by Nina Faye Morey

Finding time in our busy lives to fit in our writing is a challenge. However, I’ve discovered that “finding” is the wrong word. “Making” time is actually more “fitting.” How can I “balance life on and off the page?” This puzzle led me to read about time management and building good work habits. Knowing this conundrum faces most writers, my life and writing became predictably intertwined. The result was my “Mastering Good Writing Habits” workshop to share the knowledge and strategies I’d gained with other writers at the 2016 InScribe Fall Conference.

Time to Write

Our dream of becoming a writer is often suppressed by other demands on our time. Those close to us might not understand our need to write. They may discourage, or even disparage, the devotion we display towards our “gift.” But if we see our writing as a gift from God, we feel a responsibility to use it to His glory. Regardless of whether we’re writing in obedience to God’s call or simply dedicating our writing to Him, we must trust the Lord to give us everything we need to fulfill our writing ministry:

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you,
that you, always having all sufficiency in all things,
may have an abundance for every good work.
—2 Corinthians 9:8 (NKJV)

But in the end, the only one who can make you a successful writer is you! It’s up to you to make that happen. You can continue to just dream about it and talk about it, or you can act on it. In order to do that, you’ll need to develop good work habits and learn how to be well organized and manage your time effectively and efficiently. In her bestseller, The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp said, “Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is the result of good work habits. That’s it in a nutshell.”

Mastering good work habits helps free up your mind to think more creatively because you’ll have established a regular writing routine. The words will flow onto the page with less effort because you’ll feel more energized, engaged, and focused on the writing process. There’s no longer any need to waste time and energy on psyching yourself up, making decisions, or struggling with self-control. There’s nothing to distract you from the task at hand, and you’ll finish your day with a real sense of accomplishment.

The bestselling Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami, has won numerous awards for his novels and short stories. He said this about the importance of developing a daily writing routine in a Summer 2004 interview with John Wray in the Paris Review:

When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours…. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.

Schedule Time to Write

One of the best ways to fire up your time management skills is to identify your goals. You’re dreaming about writing that 100,000 word Christian suspense novel? If you aim for just 275 words a day, you’ll finish it in one year. You have 168 hours every week. Allowing forty hours for work and fifty-six for sleep leaves you seventy-two hours—plenty of time―right? Right! (Was that you being cynical?) In order to manage those left-over hours better, you’ll need to analyze how you’re spending them now. Then make your writing a top priority—schedule time for it and avoid distractions. Learn to say “no” without giving a reason or feeling guilty. Only have a few minutes today? Keep a notebook handy, and jot down a couple of ideas or observations. Taking just these few simple steps will start you on the right path to fulfilling your dream!

August 15, 2017

The Secret to Balance - Tracy Krauss

WARNING: This post may turn into a sermon! 

"If I only had more time!" How many of us have said that? I know I have. Lack of time seems to be the number one barrier to reaching one's writing goals - or so most people say. What if I said you could actually increase the amount of time you have for writing - or at least make it much more effective? Read on...

We're talking about 'balance' - specifically, finding balance between our writing life and the 'rest' of life in today's time driven world. A few months ago, I would have said things like, "Set SMART goals." "Make a schedule." "Just get your butt in the chair and do it!" I've always been 'big' on all of the above, and I've managed to be quite productive despite a busy life of ministry, working, and raising a family. I've always maintained that if something is important enough, you'll find a way to fit it in, no matter how hectic your life.

While all of those bits of advice are still valid, I've discovered that none of them is actually the real secret to 'finding more time'.

God has launched me on a different trajectory these past few months. For those that don't know, I had an unexpected heart attack in May and subsequent open heart surgery. For the first while I couldn't do much but pray and listen to scripture and worship music on my phone. I had been longing for more time to work on my writing projects, but now that I HAD the time, I simply didn't have the energy.

As I began to recover, God gave me a new thirst for His Word. As I got stronger I could have jumped all over that list of writing goals I had on my bulletin board, but instead, God prompted me to keep on soaking in His Word with the promise that He would help me finish them in His time.


I believe God has shown me the 'secret' to living a balanced life. Actually, it's no secret at all. It boils down to one thing: Honour God with the BEST of your time and He will honour you by multiplying what's left. 

It is the same principle we see in regard to tithing. It doesn't make sense to give one tenth of your income away, especially if things are tight. I've heard people say, "I can't afford to tithe right now." The truth is, people can't afford NOT to tithe! When we follow God's principles, He supernaturally gives us increase. It's just one of the ways that the laws of the spiritual realm operate.

The same is true of our time. This is where my post might turn into a sermon, so hang on to your seats and and keep reading if you dare!

How much quality time do we really spend with God? REALLY? Five minutes each morning? Ten minutes? Half an hour? If we applied the tithing principle to our time, we should conceivably spend two hours and forty minutes per day studying, praying and worshipping. I suppose one could factor in the times praying in the shower, listening to worship music while doing other chores, or going to mid-week Bible studies, but I suspect we'd still come up short.

Unfortunately, many Christians feed themselves with, "A chapter a day keeps the devil away." Some are on an even leaner diet of, "A verse a day," or substitute the solid food of God's Word with one of those little devotional books. (I'm not knocking the devotional books, but if that's all you're getting, it amounts to a starvation diet.)

Our rebuttal might be, "But I go to church every Sunday." This brings me to another point, even more serious, I believe, than how much time we spend in daily time with God: Very few Christians keep the Sabbath.

Please don't be offended! (And I'm not talking about keeping a certain day of the week - I will leave that up to individual interpretation.) Instead, we each need to examine our own habits. (I'm examining mine as I write!) God commanded us to keep the Sabbath. Not only is it one of the ten commandments, but it is His first ordinance right at creation. He 'rested' on the seventh day, not because He was tired, but as an example to us. It's that important! Taking an entire day for rest and reflection is a gift for our benefit, not an imposition. It says in Genesis that He 'blessed and sanctified' the Sabbath day.

This is hard for us to hear in our modern 'pressed for time' world. I don't have time to take an entire day off - every week, no less! It seems there's always some chores to be done on a Sunday afternoon; things to prepare for the next week... on and on and on... even down to the 'work' of writing. And so I continue to scramble about trying to 'fit' everything in and hopefully squeeze some time in for writing along the way.

Except... God has promised to BLESS us if we are obedient. I'm beginning to see that God truly can redeem the time if we honour Him FIRST. If I spend quality time with Him each day as well as an entire day once a week, I actually get more accomplished - and with less stress!  Go figure! It doesn't make sense logically, but God's spiritual laws work. Just like tithing doesn't make sense to our natural mind, neither does keeping the Sabbath or spending more personal devotional time make sense in our super-charged-gerbil-on-a-wheel world.

Sermon over. Now for the challenge. 

1. For the rest of this month, spend double the time you normally spend in prayer and Bible study each day. If you spend five minutes, make it ten. If you spend half an hour, make it one hour.

2. Purpose to set aside one entire day as a Sabbath each week for the rest of this month. If Sunday works for you, great. If you want to try the Jewish custom of Friday at 6pm until Saturday at 6pm, that's cool too. You don't have to read your Bible and pray the whole time, although doing that is good, but God made the Sabbath for our enjoyment. Prepare a special meal and eat together as a family or invite friends over. Play games, go for a hike, do something fun with people you love. Fellowship. Socialize. Just don't do any WORK.

3. Keep track of how much more productive you are with the rest of your time. Write it in a journal or just in your head, but I can almost guarantee that you will get more done with the time you have left. Of course, Satan will try to thwart your success, but ignore him and you will be fine!

4. (Optional) Report on your success! I would love to hear about your experiences if you choose to take up this challenge. Comment here, or email me privately:

In today's fast paced world I think one of our biggest struggles is lack of time. The enemy has tried to rob us of time with God by making us 'too busy'. Take back your right to time with God and you will be surprised at how 'balanced' the rest of your life will become.

Tracy Krauss writes - and rests - from her home in northern BC. Visit her website:   
-fiction on the edge without crossing the line- 

August 14, 2017

Joy, Prayer, and Gratitude: Finding perspective and balance as a writer - Ruth L. Snyder

Recently I listened to a webinar where writers shared their challenges and needs. When asked what the biggest challenge in writing was, most answered, "TIME!"

We all feel the crunch. Many of us have families. Many work, at least part-time. When we do squeeze in time for our writing, we are also told we need to research markets; find a group of beta readers; rewrite (several times); work with an editor to hone our manuscript; figure out whether we are self-publishing or working with a traditional publisher; maintain a website; be active on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, and others; and market our own work, plus support fellow writers in their marketing efforts.

As Christians, there is a whole extra layer to the demands. We write because we feel called by God to share a message He has laid on our hearts. We write because we see it as a ministry. We write to be a light in a dark world.

It's so easy to feel overwhelmed! 

Sometimes we quit, because it's so difficult.
Sometimes we quit, because we doubt our god-given abilities.
Sometimes we quit, because we listen to others who don't understand our calling.
Sometimes we quit, because we fail to put on our spiritual armour and fight against the devil's schemes (Ephesians 6:10-19). 

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

Be joyful is translated, "Rejoice," in the King James Version. These words come from the Greek, "chairo," a verb which means to be full of cheer or calmly happy. Hmm. Calmly happy. It would seem that God wants us to choose to be cheerful. And calm. With four active children, the only time our home is quiet is when everyone is asleep. However, as I go through my day to day activities with my husband and children, and my writing, I can choose to be calm and happy instead of reacting and getting angry.

Prayer is definitely something that helps me maintain a calm and cheerful attitude. I notice when I don't get up early in the morning and have my quiet time before everyone else gets up. (I think others notice too!) Having time to read God's word and pray sets my whole framework for the day. Although I can't spend my whole day on my knees in prayer, I can talk to God throughout the day. Short snippets of conversation:

"Wow! Thanks, Father, for a beautiful sunrise."
"Lord, give me wisdom to know how to motivate my son without giving in to anger."
"Father, you know that I was planning to write today, but my mother-in-law needs a ride to town. Help me to do it cheerfully, for you."
"Lord, I feel sad and angry. I give you my hurt feelings. Help me to respond in love."
"Father, guide my thoughts as I write."

A recent sunset in Alberta
Giving thanks or gratitude is not something that comes naturally to most of us. This too is a choice. Sometimes it's easy to be grateful - for a good harvest, for children who love us, for a welcoming church family, for a contract with a publisher. Other times it is extremely difficult to choose gratitude - when we get a diagnosis of cancer, when our teenagers rebel, when other Christians criticize us for taking a stand against sin, when we get those rejection letters.

For me, finding that equilibrium in my life and writing boils down to two words: relationship and trust. When I have a healthy relationship with my Heavenly Father, the Creator of the universe, then I am able to walk each day with trust in what He allows. I am able to trust that if He has called me to write, He will provide the opportunities and the ability to write. I can trust that He will guide me to the audience He has for me. I am also able to trust that a rejection either means my writing needs more work or it is not a good fit for that publisher or their audience.

Does this mean I am always calmly happy, praying, and giving thanks? Definitely not. I have asked, "Why?" many times. I have pouted. I have blamed others instead of taking responsibility myself. But then God reminds me of His will and the choices I can make.

Each new day, we have choices. God wants us to choose joy, prayer, and gratitude. I'm working on it. How about you?

Ruth L. Snyder
Follower of Jesus. Coach.
President of ICWF.
Creativity is my passion.
My mission is helping other creative people achieve their goals.
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