January 29, 2018

Lessons From Travelling Light by Bob Jones

In 1979, Jocelyn and I honeymooned on the exotic shores of Georgian Bay in Ontario. An assistant pastor’s salary did not hold a lot of promise for travel abroad. Our families had never traveled off the continent.

Not in our wildest dreams did we imagine that we would be sent on missions trips, sponsored for conferences, be invited internationally to preach, gifted with appreciation travel, lead Holy Land tours, or be hosted by friends on European assignment.

Dr. Seuss must have had people like us in mind when he wrote, Oh The Places You’ll Go.

However you go, traveling is a blessing. Seeing the world can change your world.

Oh, the places you'll go in 2018 on your writing journey. Don't be surprised at how and where God will take you.

Over the last four decades Jocelyn and I have traveled in single engine aircraft, sea planes, helicopters, Boeing jetliners, buses, vans, tuk tuks, taxis, horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, ferries, barges and riverboats.

We’ve paid bribes at border crossings, been interrogated by armed guards at remote checkpoints, suffered air and sea-sickness, and raced through airports to make our connecting flights. We’ve heard every excuse in the book for flight delays, unfulfilled promises and lost luggage.

And we’ve loved every minute of our travels. Well, not every minute but 97.2 % of them (see “lost luggage” above).

Lessons From Traveling Light

1. Travel light. Experience taught us that carry-on is the way to go. Anywhere. Being selectively prudent and packing detergent can help a limited wardrobe go a long, long way. One carry on each suffices for a fifteen-day trip.

Traveling light in our attitude likewise served us well.

2. Go with the flow. Travel seldom goes smoothly. Flight delays are inevitable. When your stewardess attempts to placate you with pretzels because your flight is delayed on the tarmac for over ninety minutes due to the pilots being delayed in traffic, do no harm.

Chill - don’t kill.

3. The world is much bigger than your personal preferences. Broaden your scope and enlarge your perspective because life’s not all about you. Just because it’s “your way” doesn’t mean it’s the only way. Or the right way.

Travel pays huge educational dividends.

4. People like to grumble. Yes, I’ve eavesdropped on conversations. However, the sound volume of some, don’t require close proximity to be heard - especially grumbling about first world problems. One traveler moaned about the fact they had to wear the same thing they wore at the same time the previous year on their cruise. More than one complaint was raised about the thinness of guestroom pillows.

Paradise would be a disappointment for some people. You know who they are.

5. God is incredibly creative. Observe the diversity of flora and fauna, topography and temperatures in Alaska and South Africa, Siberia and the Caribbean, the Northwest Territories and Zimbabwe.

Treat the planet with respect.

6. Courtesy goes far further than rudeness. Your kindness footprint is as or more significant than your carbon footprint. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. People deserve to have a good impression of you.

Especially traveling as an ambassador of Christ.

7. Experiences are more valuable than souvenirs. T-shirts fade but first time experiences – good and bad - last a lifetime.

Go for the firsts.

8. There are more people who view life as a sacred trust than those who are irreligious, agnostic or atheistic. I’m reminded by conversations everywhere I travel that God has set eternity in the human heart.

Extend conversations one minute longer and see where God comes in.

It's our dream to trek with our children and grandchildren (and their carry-ons) to experience their new firsts.

Travel light and enjoy your journey in 2018.

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.

January 28, 2018

Writing Preserves the Truth - Bruce Atchison

While listening to my talking pocket Bible, I'm struck by how important writing is. Oral traditions tend to be stretched and mangled to the point that they are unrecognizable. Not so with writing. It stays the way it is unless somebody deliberately and maliciously tampers with it.

Here's one reason writing is a better way to preserve truth. Exodus 34:1 (KJV) says, "And the LORD said unto Moses, 'Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.'"

Exodus 34:27 (KJV) also shows how written words are more reliable than aural commands. "And the LORD said unto Moses, 'Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.'"

Deuteronomy 6:9 (KJV) shows how important instructional writing is as a reminder to us and our children. "And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."

Deuteronomy 17:18 (KJV) demonstrates why our rulers need the written word. "And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:"

Even songs need to be written down, according to Deuteronomy 31:19 (KJV). "Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel."

And this is a better reminder of the power of the written word regarding laws and commandments. Esther 8:8 (KJV) reads, "Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king's name, and seal it with the king's ring: for the writing which is written in the king's name, and sealed with the king's ring, may no man reverse."

Jesus showed the power of written scriptures in Matthew 4:7 (KJV) when he confronted Satan when he tried to tempt him. "Jesus said unto him, 'It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.'"

God hates his words being tampered with, as the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses have done. Revelation 22:19 (KJV) warns, "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."

The reason I'm quoting all these scriptures is that my goal for 2018 is to write my next book called You Think You're Going to Heaven? Far too many people believe that they'll go to heaven when they die but that's not always the case. As Jesus warned in Matthew 7:22 and 23 (KJV), "Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?' And then will I profess unto them, 'I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity'". How horrible it will be for those false Christians!

January 27, 2018

WorDshops in the Works!

Spring WorDshops are in the works! There are five tentative locations for WorDshops this spring including:

Caron, SK - February 10
     Keynote: Ellen Duffield
Bio: Author of: 
Breathe: A Series of Experiential Journals Boo and Bess in Canada (fiction) Next Level Leadership Curriculum (key contributor) Upcoming Title: Brave Women - Building Bridges to Transformation, a compendium

Ellen is the Director of the 'Leadership Studio at Muskoka Woods'. She brings a Masters in Management and Leadership; experience co-founding an international leadership development initiative; 30 years of organizational leadership experience; involvement in ongoing research projects including an international project about women in leadership; and passion for the growth of both seasoned and emerging leaders. Ellen is a facilitator, teacher, and consultant. A Master Mentor with the Real Power Network, her identity as a mother and grandmother is deeply important to her and much of the work she does is for these future generations.

Her keynote will encourage you with reasons to write your own stories! For more details about this WorDshop, contact: writersworkshop2018@gmail.com

Steinbach, MB - March 17
     Keynote: Wilma Derksen C.E.C., O.M.
Wilma and her husband Cliff are well known in the Winnipeg area because of the abduction of their daughter who was tied up and left to die in a storage shed near their home. The Derksen's have been outspoken about their decision to trust in God and the choice to forgive. Wilma offers writing courses in Winnipeg and her husband teaches Art at an inner city school as part of an outreach/street ministry.

Other workshops TBA, including one by InScribe member, Kim Rempel.

Other Tentative WorDshops
Fort St John, BC 
Okotoks, AB 

Stay tuned for more information about dates, times, and speakers. If you would like to host a WorDshop in your area, please contact Tracy Krauss at VP@inscribe.org

January 26, 2018

Directionally Challenged - Marnie Pohlmann

As we left the store, his hand on my elbow gently pulled me to the left, correcting my path. I fell into step with him and he grinned. His hand slid down my arm to my hand and we continued our way around the mall. We've been married almost 37 years now, so he is used to me turning the wrong way no matter where we are or whether I am walking or driving.

Last year a friend was giving us a lift to the hospital. He asked if we went all the way into town or took another road. I said, "I turn at the flags" as my husband gave the street name. "Flags?" both men challenged. "Yes," I defended, "those flags right there!" The flags I used as a marker were on the corner of the street my husband had named. I could see both men shaking their heads and quietly laughing at me.

I guess I am directionally challenged.
Are you a logical, by-the-street-signs traveler or is your propensity, like mine, to watch for landmarks? Are you always aware of your path, or just naturally turn to the right when exiting any room?

Please, if you give me directions, don't just give me just an address, or tell me to go three blocks north. I don't know where north is. I need different specifics. Give me the address, but then tell me to go straight until I see the red house with the wrap-around porch, then turn right. Yes, yes, I could use Google maps or a GPS unit, but really, do you trust them? I know for my own home it takes people to the wrong side of the golf course, so without my additional description, they would be lost.

Also, turning right is safer than turning left, and you can still end up going the correct direction because three rights make a left. Right?

This year I also seem to be directionally challenged in both my writing and my faith.

I have had difficulty deciding what way to go this year. Is this a year to run ahead to see what is around the next corner? Or a year to rest, breathe deeply, and appreciate the present surroundings? Should I dig into an exegetical Bible study? Start a new way of reading through the Bible in a year? Do I have time for both? Should I focus on writing blog posts, work through a course, or work on another languishing project?

Do I sound out of touch with God, and maybe myself? 
It feels like that some days. However, I trust the process God has often used in my life. Finding my way with a flashlight through the bush at night to a camp washroom. That's how God has worked in my life.

When I focus the flashlight beam on my feet, I see my next step. It is immediate and safer than tripping over tree roots. But it's only one step at a time. I don't see the bigger picture so I may turn right, onto a rabbit trail under low-hanging branches. Or I may unexpectedly run into a bear. Oh, my!

When I lift the flashlight, more of the path is illuminated giving me a better idea of where I am going. But now I may stumble more often on the rough path.

God's Word works like a flashlight in the dark.

Psalm 107:105 says,
"Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

A lamp to my feet, so I don't fall over rough ground. A light to my path to illuminate a larger purpose in my life. The light does not give the whole picture, showing me the end, and I may still encounter difficult situations or rocky times. Yet God is leading me. He is with me on the journey. He always has been with me, and I trust Him to continue leading me.

 This year I may be directionally challenged, with no specific plans for writing or life, but as I meditate on God's Word, He will place his hand on my elbow and gently direct me. His Word will shine a lamp on my writing steps and a light on my faith as we continue through 2018.

photos courtesy of Stephanie Pohlmann and Pixabay.com

Marnie walks with God and writes from a small town on Highway 97, the Alaska Highway, past Dawson Creek at Mile Zero, a few miles past the turn to the curved Old Kiskatinaw Bridge, down a steep hill with a beautiful view, across a scary metal bridge, arriving at Mile 36. This is where you will find the sister town of North Pole, Alaska, a friendly church, wonderful recreational facilities including a professional golf course, and friendly people. If you arrive in Fort St John, you've gone too far and need to turn around. Visit Marnie's blog Phosphorescent.

January 25, 2018

Smiling in the face of disappointment By Vickie Stam

Proverbs 17:22  "A cheerful heart is good medicine.....

In November there was an Arts and Crafts registration day for everyone in the community where my husband and I reside during the winter. This year will be our first full winter in Florida. Retirement really is wonderful!

With two classes in mind, I headed down to the Queensway Center only to be greeted by a long line up folks waiting to get inside. A few of us begun chatting about the various classes that were being offered. Pottery seemed to be the favourite. Even so, it was not on my list.

We were allowed inside the building in groups of ten or so. As people came out - people went in. Some had waited outside up to an hour before the registration time. Their hands held fast to a yellow sheet of paper. Their favourite classes circled or underlined.

The sun was hot that day. Beads of sweat trickled down my back. I just couldn't wait to get inside. I worried that I wouldn't be able to get into one of my preferred classes due to    the number of spaces.

Growing a little bit antsy, I borrowed a friends yellow sheet and read it through for the umpteenth time. Finally a lady counted out a dozen of us and off we went. 

Rows of tables lined the carpet. Chatter filled the air. People were busy scoping out the programs like chickens pecking for food. Bodies were hunched over tables. Noses were pointed down. Eyeglasses were firmly in place. I had trouble finding the right table through the flock when suddenly two blonde haired ladies appeared to be looking at me.

I realized I had found the writing group. I strolled up to the table and reached for the pen. Just when I was about to scratch my name on the sheet I learned the class was full. I was too late! All I could do was write my name in the space ear marked as a wait list. 

By the time I got home my cheerful heart was no longer. I had been so pumped about the writing group that I decided to host a writing group myself. I couldn't help but think about the number of writing classes I had taken over the years and figured if I couldn't get into one I would have enough experience to host one. I hoped that those who were sitting on the wait list would be thrilled to learn that another group was starting. I set my disappointment aside and went to work.  

After getting permission from the arts and crafts coordinator to start another writing group I quickly gathered up my supplies. For more than a month I went over everything I felt I needed. More than once, I counted the dozen handouts to make sure that nothing was missing. I smiled each time I read through the list of things the people signing up would need to know. My excitement only grew with each passing day. The closer it got to another registration day, the more pumped I became. 

On January 6th I gathered my supplies in my tote bag and headed back to the Queensway Center. New people had been arriving in the community daily since Christmas had come and gone. The purpose for this mini-registration was to include those people who were not here during the original sign-up. 

I sat down at the table I was assigned and placed my sheets in front of me along with the book, titled - Writing Your Legacy. When the doors opened only a few filed in. A lady came to my table right away to register. I was thrilled! I had been praying about this group for a while. But as the hour passed not another showed up. I watched the clock on the wall as it slowly crept closer to us wrapping up. 

When 3:30 pm arrived, I saw that I had only one name on my sheet. The sting of disappointment set in once again. My smile disappeared and I gathered up the eleven handouts that were left over. I pitched my book and the few pictures I had placed on the table back into my tote bag. My heart might as well have been in the bag too.

I waited a day before I canceled my class. I prayed that some others would come forward wanting to sign up. I hoped that they had been busy and unable to make the sign up. I was so pumped about starting a group. 

Even though I was disappointed I know that I can try again next winter. God has a plan! I told myself. Cheer up!

When the facilitator of the writing group with the wait list learned that my group hadn't worked out, she invited me to join hers.

God's plan is not always our plan. I trust that he will show me the way. 

January 22, 2018

Faith, Writing And Painful Challenges by Alan Anderson

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” ( Isaiah 41: 10 NKJV)

2018 began how 2017 ended for my wife and I. In the latter part of 2017 we began regularly attending an Eastern Orthodox Christian church. It continues to be a welcome change in our worship and day-to-day life.

Near the end of 2017 it was confirmed my wife, Terry, has uterine cancer. We entered 2018 with the prospect of her having surgery. People asking, “Lord have mercy”, sent many prayers to God. I rejoice that her surgery on Jan. 9 went well. She is still recovering from her surgery at the date of this post. To date, she has experienced little pain. Now we wait for her lab results that will hopefully confirm the cancer has been contained.

I have to be honest and confess that the ending of last year and the beginning of this year have been met with mixed emotions. I experienced joy that our family, friends and new church are an amazing support network. I also experienced a sense of fear at the prospect of Terry’s cancer. In my joy I expressed my faith in God. In my fear, I guess I showed a lack of faith and a reminder of my frailty.

This month’s writing prompt asks, “How is God speaking to you about your faith and writing this year?” At this point in time I’m not sure what He is saying to me. I have a strong desire to bring hope to my readers in spite of pain or challenges that life brings. Perhaps then God is saying keep writing regardless of painful challenges. Maybe that’s the direction God is preparing for me.

In anticipation of this direction I am stepping out in faith by accepting an invitation by a local wellness business owner. She invited me to present a series on grief related issues. I view this as a step of faith due to the fact the first time this series was scheduled no community interest was shown. Hopefully it will be different when I begin the series in March.

I also began a series of posts on my Blog at scarredjoy.wordpress.com. This series began at the end of 2017 and is carried over into 2018. I call the it, “Things That Matter In The Face Of Cancer.” It is a consideration of what I am observing as I walk with Terry in her experience with cancer. Perhaps I could also have called it, “Writing with Tears.”

I hope I am not discouraging readers as they read this post. I do have faith in God. I sense His presence. I know Terry’s cancer has not taken Him by surprise. I think what it might be is cancer has reminded me of our mortality as we live this life. It has also confronted us with the reality of living a life of faith in all circumstances.

When her doctor confirmed Terry had cancer I was fearful. Forgive me if that showed my lack of faith. I also asked God why it wasn’t me who had cancer. I mean, this is Terry’s second time with cancer, only a different kind. It was one of these experiences where as a man and husband I wanted to protect my wife. He allowed me to express that to Him.

In writing this post, in showing the frailty of my mortality, I realize once again that painful challenges are part of life. I cannot prevent things like cancer, no matter how much I hate them. I can, however, live and write a life of faith, knowing God knows all about it.

Blog: ScarredJoy@wordpress.com

January 21, 2018

A Plethora of Possibility .... by Jocelyn Faire

It's not unusual for me to want to come up with a catchy phrase or acronym to help focus on a goal. It's also not unusual for me to use my gift of taking scripture out of context and apply it to my scenario.

“So here's what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let all those good intentions grow stale. Your heart's been in the right place all along. You've got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can't. The heart regulates the hands. 2Corinthians 8:10-12 The Message

In the above quote Paul writes to the Corinthians re their intended financial gift, but when I read this verse a few years ago it jumped out and applied itself to a writing project. In pondering 2018 and goals the verse came back to me and once again I apply it to a writing project.
Over Christmas my husband and I were in N Africa, and every time I visit my daughter and her family I come with away with an urgency to to pray—especially for their ministry and the daily challenges they (especially my grandchildren) face living in a Muslim culture. Focusing on prayer is always a good start to the year. After starting with the idea of Prayer I began to play with the P words ... and more goals for the year popped up.

Pursue inner Peace It is a pursuit. Thou wilt keep him in Perfect Peace, who's mind is stayed on thee. As I pray my mind will be focused on God, and my peace increases. As my peace increases I can extend it to others. Recently I heard a pastor reference Paul's frequent salutation of “grace and peace.” He challenged us to respond to situations with a simply reply: someone cuts you off in traffic—Grace & Peace, You're put on hold—Grace & Peace, someone gets under your skin—Grace & Peace. My husband and I have tried it on each other a few times. It's helpful.
Partnership—after being solo for a decade, I have husband to consider ... we are learning to do things in partnership. Thankfully I am partnered with God in this.
Practice His Presence-being aware of God at all times throughout the daily activities.
Praise & thanksgiving. Living in gratitude and giving praise to God for all his goodness.
Power—a reminder to myself that we are given the same power that raised Christ from the dead. (Can I really grasp that? Why do I still struggle?)
and Publish? Publish-how did that get into here?
Susan Barclay, in her January 4th post, aims to finish her first draft of a novel, even if it lies on the shelf somewhere ... and Joylene Bailey responded that this thought also released her from the pressure—just finish the work, move on and let God guide for the next step. Well, I haven't got a novel I'm working on, but I do have a short manuscript from before life got crazy and I got married. While taking the creative writing course through U of C a few years ago, we submitted our final project. It was to be the beginning of a longer work, or a completed short work intended for possible future publication. And here it sits on my computer waiting for such a time as this. At the time my preceptor for the course told me she hoped I would publish it. Perhaps this is the year to do something with it? That is a scary thought. But an idea has already come to mind: to have a certain number of copies printed to give as gifts to my family, and close friends. The manuscript Becoming is a collection of prayers, anecdotes and declarations of hope ... a series of inspirational notes to move forward in life.
So how do I sum up for my goals for this year?
Prevail and Persevere ... Keep at it. It is easy to get discouraged as all these things have been on lists before. What makes me think this time is different?
PRAY and then
Plan—I need a scheduled plan to make this happen. Daily I want to commit to thirty minutes of prayer and initially I thought thirty minutes of Proprioceptive Writing. Then I realized that the writing part needs more flexibility and Prayer is the focus. Perhaps I need to partner with someone to keep me accountable?

There is a plethora of possibilities that I could proceed with Panache ... but even better to proceed with PRAYER.

January 19, 2018

Capturing Moments by Eunice Matchett

For me, a new year is an open, brand-new journal. A pretty one, because I like pretty. The prettier my journal the harder I try to make each story or poem unique. At the end of each year, I have a treasure house of my thoughts to read. Sadly, the more recent the journals, the emptier the pages. Somehow, I’ve allowed myself to get off track. My direction and discipline have packed up and gone on a trip.

I need a plan. One to keep me on track.  I though back over the previous year. My well-intended writing time had been crowded out by other things. Feeling ashamed of myself for allowing this to happen, I asked God to help me in these areas this year.  An element of peace crept into me.

 Then, alas, life set in. 

The phone rang. My son had suffered another medical episode. I grabbed my coat and keys and was out the door in minutes. Hours later, I returned, totally exhausted. My laptop remained on the ottoman right where I left it. The discipline and direction I’d promised myself earlier shriveled up, and I flopped across my bed, only to be woken a few hours later. My son needed care. This went on for three days. The following three days I flat-lined. Now, six days later, I retrieve my laptop from the ottoman where I’d laid it all those days ago.

Prepared to continue with my thoughts, I re-read what I’d written, but the discipline and direction no longer felt so important or possible. I prayerfully stared at my screen wondering if my writing days were withering. Self pity popped in to join me for a cup of tea. The tea was delightful, and the conversation was all one-sided. Mine. But, as the conversation moved on, little spots of light appeared and grew. Self-pity excused herself for another appointment, and my mind kicked into gear.

I have less control over my life than most people, so direction and discipline can be no more than an illusive dream. Or I can dwell on them, and turn into an old hag. But I choose not to. My prayer for this year has changed to, “Lord, help me recognize the small openings in my life in which I can sit and write, and please enable my mind to kick into its writing mode instantly.”

January 18, 2018

The Story That Wouldn't Go Away - Gloria Guest

"How is God speaking to you about your faith and writing? How are you anticipating God’s presence? How does He want you to step forward in faith?"

When I put the words ‘my faith’ and ‘writing’ together these are the thoughts that come to mind:

Last year I took the opportunity to write a short story for Inscribes Anthology, Christmas Stories & More. It was a faith inducing experience for me as I’ve resisted sending my work out for publication for years (other than newspaper articles and columns). Due to the encouragement of a good friend I pushed through that wall of resistance and sent in my story, even though I wasn’t happy with it and could only think about its flaws after it was sent. Thankfully the editor team saw more than flaws and it was published in the book.

I’d always had the tendency to simply forget about my newspaper articles and columns once they were in print. Once in a while someone would mention an article or column they liked and I was always so surprised and just brush off their kind comments. 

And so I thought I’d just forget about this story too. But for some reason that story just would not go away. Some people who read it offered encouraging comments more than once. Then a friend (also an Inscribe member with a story in the book) read it out loud at her Author’s Reading (things were getting out of control) and then told me that a lady who attended the meeting wanted to read it at her church’s Christmas program (now things had really gone off the deep end) This story seemed to be taking on a life of its own.

 I had offered a copy to my physiotherapist to leave in her waiting room and she phoned and left a message just to encourage me that she loved the story. And then at my appointment she brought it up again and wanted to know more about my writing. Being the encouraging person that she is she asked me if I’d ever thought of writing for Christian magazines, especially since I had experience as a reporter. Little did she know that she had touched on a dream in my heart; to be able to write articles for a faith based magazine on a regular basis.

I have to admit that I’ve always been the ‘hide my talents under a bushel’ kind of person. But with the comments and other promptings I’ve been coming to understand that that maybe my writing is meant to expand beyond my small thinking.

This year, I will choose to anticipate that God’s presence will go with me as I make more attempts into the published world. I haven’t decided yet what they will be and I may never write for a faith based magazine, but I’m trusting that when I hear that small voice prompt me to step forward in some way, that I will and can act.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” [Phil 4:13 NKJV] is the perfect scripture for my writing life this year.

January 17, 2018

New Year's Resolutions - Lynn Dove

I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions.  Perhaps it’s because I fail so miserably at keeping most New Year’s resolutions that I make.  It is so very discouraging for me.  I have these lofty goals and have such good intentions but a week into the New Year and I’m already making excuses or giving up entirely on any resolution-keeping I may have made.  The same is equally true when it comes to making writing goals for the New Year.  I have these lofty ambitions, I make writing deadlines for myself, schedule my days and then inevitably something comes up and I have to scrap my plans and start all over. 

A writer’s life is full of lofty goals and ambitions, but it is also filled with distractions, re-writes, re-writes, rewrites…and occasionally scrapping the project entirely and starting from scratch.  *sigh*

My life verse is, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”  Proverbs 16:9  I have embraced that verse because I have learned that if I make any kinds of plans on my own, I have to be willing to also look out for the God-sized U-turns that may have me scrap my original plans and follow another course direction that He has set for me.  Faith is all about setting off in an entirely new direction, knowing that His leading is always best.

 When I make my own plans, I tend to fail.  I don’t have the stamina or the endurance to stay the course.  New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside.  Writing projects get put aside and artistic procrastination sets in.  I’m the queen of excuses when it comes to keeping writing deadlines.  Distractions abound that seem to take far more precedence than my writing.  Again, all my best laid plans tend to dissolve and another opportunity for writing ministry wasted.

With New Year’s resolutions, the only way I can succeed is if I know there is a greater goal in keeping them.  For example, I have been told by my doctor that I must walk more to stave off a chronic health issue.  The quest for fitness is not just a New Year’s resolution now, it is necessary for long term health.  That’s important to me because I’ve got to keep up with very active grandbabies!  With a new, more purposeful focus, I can be disciplined and stretch towards the finish line.  Unfortunately, I will fail in the attempt, if I think I can do this on my own.  Prayer and a good accountability partner will guarantee a positive result.  “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  Phil. 4:13

 It is the same with writing.  I consider my writing a ministry.  As soon as I refocus on why I write in the first place, I can rededicate myself to the task at hand.  I am not writing for myself.  Every project, every article is ultimately to bring Glory to God.  I believe God is actively involved in leading me to those writing projects He wishes me to contribute to, and He is with me throughout the writing process.  He requires me to be disciplined in setting goals and keeping them.  It is important that I pray for His direction throughout the process. 

If you are setting writing goals for the coming year, here are a few scripture verses to ponder:

“My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.”  Psalm 45:1

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8

And lastly, I sometimes replace the words “speaks” with “writes” in the following verse to further encourage and challenge me as a writer.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever.  Amen.”  1 Peter 4:10-11

You can find other encouraging verses for writers on my website.

Lynn Dove is the award-winning author, of the YA “Wounded Trilogy”- a contemporary Christian fiction series with coming-of-age themes.  A wife, mom, grandmother, and free-lance writer with articles published in several magazines and anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her blog, “Journey Thoughts” is a Canadian Christian Writing Award winner.  Readers may connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and at lynndove.com  

January 16, 2018

This Year Spread Out! Think Big! by Nina Faye Morey

“Clear lots of ground for your tents!
Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big!
Use plenty of rope,
drive the tent pegs deep.”

~ Isaiah 54:2 (MSG)

The dawn of each new year always seems like an ideal time to initiate change in our lives. A time to clear ground, to enlarge the canvas of our lives, and to spread out and think big! This requires a willingness to loose whatever is constraining us from reaching our goals and give ourselves the freedom to break fresh ground; plant new seeds; nourish them; and let them take root, grow, and be fruitful. With that in mind, here are some of the goals I have set for myself in 2018:

Become More Firmly Grounded in My Faith

My number one goal for the new year is to grow spiritually and strengthen my relationship with the Lord. This will mean clearing the way to spend more time with Him in contemplation and prayer and in reading His Word so that His love will dwell more deeply in my heart and ground me more firmly in my faith. His indwelling love is the soil in which my heart and soul are rooted and the sunshine in which my spirit flourishes and grows (Ephesians 3:17-19).

Become More Fruitful in My Writing

My second goal is to become more fruitful in my Christian writing. The Holy Spirit doesn’t want me to be afraid to share my gift of writing or to shy away from this work of ministry. If I remain faithful and obedient, He promises to help me uproot that snarled undergrowth of thoughts and feelings that strangle my creativity and threaten my fruitfulness. He will grant me the strength, courage, and self-discipline to reach out and turn even the coldest of hearts and darkest of souls towards the warmth and light of Christ (2 Timothy 1:7).

As FellowScript’s Editor, Spread Out—Think Big!

Thirdly, as FellowScript’s editor, my goal is to spread out—to think big! I hope to enlarge the circle of FellowScript’s tent by continuing to break new ground and cultivate new talent to expand our magazine’s scope and readership. As a member of InScribe’s Executive, I share their objectives of involving more youth and increasing our membership. Therefore, I plan to soon introduce a new YA Scribes Write page to FellowScript to encourage more young Christian writers to contribute to our magazine.

Deepen My Commitment to Exercise

My fourth goal is to expend more of my energy on physical exercise. Just as it is beneficial to stretch and strengthen ourselves mentally and spiritually, it is equally important physically. As the decades fly by with increasing speed, I’ve discovered that my fitness has steadily decreased. My joints are stiffer and my muscles less flexible. My body has grown weary fighting the Battle of the Bulge and sometimes—well—just plain weary! It is not only through caring for ourselves mentally and spiritually that we honour God, but also by caring for ourselves physically (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Spread My Wings and Explore My World

Finally, I want to spread my wings and explore more of this wonderful world. The first phase of fulfilling this goal is to explore as much as I can of our scenic country. If everything works out as planned, I will be taking a motorcoach tour from Winnipeg to Niagara Falls this spring. The favourite part of my travels isn’t visiting cities or man-made sites, but exploring the natural world God created. Being out in nature always makes me feel closer to my Creator (Romans 1:20).

What new ground will you break, what good seeds will you sow, and what fresh fruit will you produce this year?

Photo Credits: © Nina Faye Morey