February 28, 2018

The One Thing That Changes Everything by Bob Jones

Without this ONE thing even the smallest tasks feel impossible.

Without this ONE thing couples give up on their marriage, parents give up on their teens, leaders give up on their people, people give up on their future.

You can live for 40 days without food, about 3 days without water, and about 8 minutes without air. 

You don’t want to go a single second without this ONE thing.

The ONE thing?


Hope is the most important factor in anyone’s life.
When you lose hope, you lose your ability to breathe, let alone dream for the future.
When you have hope, anything is possible.
Telling the stories of people who found hope in dire circumstances is a way writers, poets and artists can become hope dispensers.

Think of how much widespread good can come from your book or blog post offering hope.
When I wrote Mackenzee Wittke and Wendy Edey’s stories I had no way of knowing that a man in Finland or a mom in Edmonton or people across Canada would be inspired with hope.

Mackenzee was born with many health complications: heart, lung, brain, eating, breathing...just to name a few. So rare and unique were her symptoms that physicians called her condition “The Mackenzee Wittke Syndrome.”

Doctors told her parents, Matt and Kim that she wouldn't live through the first week. “Our first reaction was fear of losing our baby girl."

In faith they named her "Mackenzee HOPE Wittke."

"Watching Mackenzee day after day fighting through many battles is where we found the true meaning of hope.”

Kim says, “I kept repeating this to myself, ‘as long as she has breath there is hope’."

Kenzee is now nine years old.

Sometimes, the good news is the bad news is wrong.

In response to Kenzee’s story, Shirley from Edmonton shared about her experience. 

“My daughter has a genetic disorder. For ten years her genetic tests came back negative. Then the tests improved and she was given a diagnosis. The diagnosis (4P-) answered many unanswered questions! From the time she was born, she was given a short life span - first 1 year then 2 years, then no more than 6 years, then 10 years but ‘she’ll never survive into her teens’… now she is 35 years old.”

Wendy Edey is blind and she’s a blogger. She’s known on the web as “The Hope Lady.” 

I met Wendy when I officiated her daughter’s wedding. Wendy writes about things that turned out better than expected and impossible things that became possible. She shares about hoping, coping, and moping in stories about disability, aging, care-giving and child development.

Anne Lamott knows more than ONE thing about hope-filled writing. She gets the last word,

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.” 

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.

I Contend, Therefore I Am - Bruce Atchison

 I feel blessed that God has provided me with the passion for truth. Like the prophets, I can't help but speak out against wickedness and lies. And since we have such wondrous tools as the Internet, screen-reading computer programs, and Bible CD-ROMs, I'm equipped to use the truth as a lie-destroying weapon.

And what a precious task we've been given as well. We read in Jude 1:3 (KJV)that,  "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."

This torch of truth we've been handed by the saints of old must be kept burning, even at the cost of persecution. As we can easily understand from Hebrews chapter eleven, people prized the Word so much that they suffered and died to protect it.

Those devoted-but-unknown scribes who copied the scriptures also regarded the very letters they wrote as precious. They could have used their talents to make a good living writing for illiterate folks but they devoted their lives to copying the Word.

Likewise there are so many missionaries throughout history who could have lived comfortably at home. Instead, they went to the ends of the earth to spread the glorious news of salvation through faith in Christ.

Now we have excellent online Bible resources and top-notch scholars whose work we can study. Through social media sites, we can proclaim the gospel to folks who we might never meet in a lifetime of traveling. Let's use every tool at our disposal to encourage our siblings in Christ and proclaim his saving love.

February 26, 2018

The Reasons I Write - Marnie Pohlmann

A Mom struggles to overcome harmful thoughts that were hardwired into her brain during childhood trauma.

First responders search for ways to protect themselves from the cumulative stress of carrying the pain and pictures of those they have served. 
A young woman is anxious about an upcoming surgery that may remove a breast as the doctors cut out cancer.

An immigrant family who knows they are now safe cannot erase from their minds the thoughts and nightmares of the horror they have experienced.

A young woman betrayed, beaten, trafficked to be owned by others. Trapped.

A First Nations woman is stuck in the belief the past defines her and determines her present and future, unable to see any choices.

A young man grieves his life choices, his failures, and contemplates a choice to stop the pain coming from the consequences.

A teenager is confused about her identity, yet she trusts no one with her secret because they would not understand.

A believer in Christ becomes depressed; her faith seems to only condemn not comfort her in the darkness.

Each of these individuals is who I imagine being my audience, the "world" my writing could possibly influence. I am burdened with the pain and darkness these people are experiencing because I relate to them. I have been in these situations, believed these thoughts, considered these actions. Yet I have also found hope and peace through Jesus Christ who provides life amid the darkness. I still struggle but I have experienced victory in these areas before and I know I will again. Not that "I" can, but that God will walk me through the darkness and teach me new ways of thinking, feeling, and acting.

Does my writing or speaking change the world? Honestly, I rarely get feedback on what I share except family and friends who love me and other writers who encourage me. So, I don't know. I don't hear of or see my words changing any of the people in my imaginary audience. Perhaps, although I occasionally share the words, I write only to solidify in my own ears, eyes, brain, and heart the truth of God’s redemption.

While I would like to think I can change the world through writing blogs, poetry, lyrics, magazine articles, fiction, or memoirs or by speaking my understanding of God's Word, changing others may not be the result or the purpose. I am called to write, but how that writing is used is out of my hands. That is God's department. I believe He uses anything He wants to further His Kingdom, whether a silver chalice or a chamber pot. So yes, He can use even me, even my writing, though the ink may flow in words that mention nothing of God.

Psalm 45:1 says in the Message paraphrase,
"My heart bursts its banks,
spilling beauty and goodness.
I pour it out in a poem to the king,
shaping the river into words."

(I shared a couple years ago on my blog, Phosphorescent, an essay delving into what this verse shows to a Christian writer, called "Waterfall.")

Walking with God, whether in darkness or joy, my heart bursts when I contemplate His grace to me. I then cannot help but write. My true audience is God. His love is amazing and we as Christians who write cannot express that at all adequately. Yet we must try. Yesterday at church we sang "The Love of God," a hymn expressing that truth.

Writers who are Christian, whether or not we know we are changing the world with our writing, have three reasons to continue.
To change the lives of others.
To change the life of ourselves.
To bring joy to God.

God’s Word changes hearts. Our words - written, spoken, sung, or acted out, - may be used by God to change the world. Therefore, I write.

*photos CCO license compliments of Pixabay.com

God is present. God is at work. Marnie writes.

February 25, 2018

My Daily Hope By Vickie Stam

                                         Zephaniah 3:17 

  "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."  
Have you ever wondered how many words in a day you speak? Language Log says, "The average woman speaks 20,000 words a day while the average man speaks 7,000 words a day. I'm sure some of us, like myself know people where those stats are truly the opposite. But just think what 20,000 words a day could do! Picture the good that could come from that many words.

Now, imagine recording every word you spoke or sang out loud in one day. After listening to it, would you hear yourself offering hope to the hopeless, encouragement to the lost and the love of Jesus to everyone you meet? I certainly couldn't say that about myself.

What would the word count look like on your computer at the end of a day? Tally the number of words you text in a day. Would you hear and see words that could easily describe your character as Christ-like? Hmm... 

Each word in an email, card, message, conversation and so on can quickly add up to something spectacular - a desire, a hope, a dream. What about the power of prayer - the words that are expressed between you and God? How often do you pray? 

Some of us take stock of the number of steps we've taken daily by simply checking our smart bracelet or iPhone. We're thrilled when we see that number reach 10,000 because we've been told about the great health benefits we'll receive from reaching such a goal. 

What about the benefits of sharing Gods word with others? I wish that I could say that I do that on a daily basis. Yet, these days it really doesn't take a lot of effort to communicate the love of God to people near and far. The internet is a handy tool for doing just that. Whether or not we go by foot into the world or reach out to others from inside our homes we have the means to offer something of ourselves to those around us.

I write because I feel God leading me to express the things in my life both good and bad. This life that is mine just might be the thing that makes someone else know they're not alone. 

I love to cook for others and enjoy the fellowship, the smiles and even the expressions of truth that seem to develop around a table of food. And yes, I still enjoy writing letters and sending cards. 

There are so many ways to allow hope to shine in this world.

I hope .....
- whenever I write something that my words would have a positive impact on the person reading them.

- my prayers would intercede on behalf of others.

- that my life would show the love of Jesus in things I say and do.

- my life shows just how wonderful it is to know that God is with me, he has saved me, he takes great delight in me, he loves me, and rejoices over me. 

If I think of the many words I speak in one day I hope the most important words find their way to someone else. 

February 22, 2018

Mending Hearts & Loving People by Alan Anderson

The writing prompt question for this month’s blog post is an interesting one. It asks, “In what way do your writing, speaking, music, publishing and/or other ministries bring hope and redemption to others?”

I have spent a lot of my ministry or work years with people who are grieving a loss, seriously ill and those who are dying. I call them my teachers. I now include them in my writing. I believe I’ve written about them in this blog before.

I protect the privacy of my teachers by being cautious with how I write about my experiences with them. If I use names they are fictitious. I may also combine their stories with others or summarize them.

For the most part my teachers are like me, ordinary people. Like me they are not world famous and they seem to be content with that. They had childhoods, attended school, grew up, worked, raised families and some reached a retirement stage in life. In time their health was compromised and life experienced a major adjustment.

As my teachers came to trust me I was allowed into their lives to hear their stories. Their stories are real. They are stories glowing with pride as they talk about their families. They are stories of remorse as they mention regrets. Stories that include the stinging pain of loved ones no longer with us. My teachers remind me through their stories that life is precious and is to be savored.

My approach when serving people is to come as an ambassador of God’s love. I have always given my teachers a piece of my heart. To approach them as if I want to fix them would come short of showing compassion. My teachers have primarily been people who are broken in some way. I come alongside them as one also broken, yet living in hope.

I summarize my writing and work/ministry by one simple phrase. My phrase is “Touched by grief and held by hope.” It identifies me with other broken people. I have experienced grief. I live embraced by hope. This phrase found me after years of coming alongside people and listening to them.

Listening to hurting people is an act of healing that brings hope. I don’t mean it cures them from their suffering. It allows them to know someone cares about the pain in their hearts. Through the years a number of my teachers have said, “thank you for listening.” That “thank you” is a beautiful expression from someone perhaps lonely or held captive by suffering.

I cannot think about my teachers without being emotional. They taught me how to be present, to truly listen without the need to speak. I tell myself if I don’t listen to people, I don’t have the right to speak into their lives.

Do you have teachers in your life? Who are they? Relish them. Hold them close to your hopeful heart. Let them know how much you appreciate and love them. They will accept this with grace.

Beware of taking your teachers for granted. Realize that they may not always be with you. Treasure your time with them. These are the people who make the world a better place. Be one of them. That will be your greatest gift to them.

Blog: scarredjoy.wordpress.com

February 21, 2018

Moving Ahead in Hope .... by Jocelyn Faire

If we could see time as a circle, we might be better able to see how birth and death belong within the one embrace. John O'Donohue 
Our plane landed this past Monday night and my husband and I drove directly to the nursing home that my mother has called home for the past 13 months. The messages had been giving rise to anxieties... should we try to return early? Her health was failing rapidly. We had known this for awhile ... but when the day comes to say good by to your mother, it is still a sad day. 
My mother of ninety three displayed a strength and joy of life, a contentment and sense of adventure. 
The following poem was written after the painful death of children, but no matter the age death is difficult. 

What is Grief?
It is not a sentiment,
of heart wrenching beautiful words.
It is incredible pain,
A darkness I cannot breathe in,
A tangible taste I cannot brush away.
A pain I think I cannot survive
It is not pretty, but it can bring about beauty.
It is a journey, I did not choose to embark on.
Grief is questions and searching
It redefines my soul.
Grief is so lonely it doubts the existence of love. 
Bizarrely, the sun still shines in the midst of grief
And flowers still bloom. 
Because of that 
         I choose to live!

There have been many opportunities to share the hope I have been given despite life altering grief. Choose hope, choose life.

February 19, 2018

Little thing are big by Eunice Matchett

After a few days of a winter escape and a seven-hour drive, I pulled back into town. Fresh snow lay everywhere. Not just a skiff, but at least a six-inch covering. My heart dropped. I live n a corner house with a double driveway. That meant shoveling. Lots of shoveling.  All the way down the last block I convinced myself it wouldn’t be as bad as it looked. That starting was the hardest part of any job. As I turned onto my block, my jaw dropped. Someone had not only blown the snow off the outer sidewalk, but the driveway and back approach as well. Gratefulness washed through me.

A week later, I still don’t know who the good neighbor was, but I am blessed every time I look out my windows or drive on the driveway.

Our writing life should be much the same as my good Samaritan neighbor’s. He saw a need and met that need. Me especially, am too old to shovel out the neighborhood but there are tons of other needs. Perhaps it’s an encouraging little blurb for a church bulletin or an opinion piece in a local newspaper, or−a biggie−take time to write a review on a book we enjoyed, are small things but could make someone’s day.

When God impresses something on our spirit to write, we need to take note and obey. Perhaps it seems foolish, or simply doesn’t make sense, but that’s not our concern. God knows who needs to read what He’s impressed us to write. He chose us to be that messenger, just as he knew this little old grammy would have a difficult time shoveling my seemingly never-ending walkways and sent someone to do it for me.

February 18, 2018

Hope - Gloria Guest

*I share the following previously published blog post in keeping with this months topic on writing from the heart and how I choose to try to use my writing as a tool to encourage and uplift others from where I've been and where I'm headed.

With winter lingering I’ve been thinking  about a poem that I wrote quite awhile ago about the hope that I felt one year in finding the first crocus of spring. We need hope even more when it is nowhere in sight so even though winter is still with us and spring is still a ways off I’m going to share it. Some of you will recognize it as I’ve published it on my blog or Facebook before or perhaps I’ve sent it to you sometime when I hoped it would help you through something you were going through.
Signs of Life
Purple stems protruding from prairie earth
With snow still visible on the ground
A day when my heart seeks shelter and solace
How brave and fierce the Crocus is!
Not grown in potting shed or tended in gardeners plot
It’s undaunted courage inspires me and woos me
I cup them to my face
And inhale their fragrance of hope
While Creators breath midst prairie breeze
Surrounds my searching soul
During trying circumstance
Gloria Lynn Guest 2002
Spotting the first crocus of spring has always been to me the sign that spring has truly arrived. While it’s premature, I can always hope that spring is not too far away.
Hope is a small but mighty word.
It’s as strong as an anchor when the winds are blowing and the waves are crashing; the only thing we have left between us and death.
It’s as fragile as a flickering light in the window, placed there by a mother, wife or child of a soldier in a conflict far overseas, lighting the way home.
Hope is as gentle as a baby’s breath or as fierce as a battle cry.
The embers of hope can stir in the heart of one or two and catch fire across an entire nation  Yet hope can also appear in the form of the small purple crocus that bravely grows on a snowy hillside.
Without hope, men give up and die and with it, they find the strength and will to fight and live.
Hope doesn’t come in predictable ways but through the window of the unforeseen; it’s presence perhaps even going unnoticed until it’s all you see.
We don’t find hope. Hope finds us. It seeks us out in whatever circumstances we are in and whispers a question. Do you dare to hope?

Gloria seeks out the early Spring Crocus' on the sunny side of hills near her hamlet of Caron Sk., where she resides and also the hills of the farm near Hardy Sk., where she and her husband farmed and raised their two sons. She writes words of hope on her blog at gloriaguest.wordpress.com and also plugs away at writing her Memoir entitled Dandelions From Heaven - A Story of Hope & Healing
. Her blog and memoir deal with the not so easy topics of Childhood Trauma, Grief, Suicide, Depression and other life circumstances that she or those she has loved have faced. In her writing it  is her utmost desire to shine a light back for those who are coming behind while still seeking the light she needs to shine on her own path daily.

February 17, 2018

Hope to the Hopeless - Lynn Dove

When I wrote my first Y.A. novel, "Shoot the Wounded", I had two goals in mind: Become a published author and bringing Glory to God in the process.  I was purposeful in writing my book that any young person who read it, no matter their circumstances, would see that "hope" is found in the Person of Jesus Christ.

The themes in that book and later in the trilogy, were heavy ones for a teen and a young adult to process and deal with.  I incorporated themes into my books, such as teen pregnancy, cancer, grief and family violence, based on my many years of teaching and working with youth who were struggling with these societal issues.  Later, after my books were published, I began writing my blog to help promote my books, but soon discovered that people who started reading and then following my musings responded especially well to posts that contained encouraging scripture and anecdotes that pointed them towards God.  One posting in particular about Grief, that I wrote in 2013, after my daughter lost one of her friends in a horrific traffic accident, has since been viewed an average of 500 times daily!  People share heart-wrenching stories of loss in the comments section, looking for some comfort as they deal with the excruciating pain of losing someone dear to them.  Truly, I have been humbled by the response.  Even more humbling is the responsibility we have as writers to share our faith openly and honestly with people who need to hear The Good News!

As Christians here in Canada and in the United States in particular, we have been openly maligned and denigrated for our faith and belief.  Just last week on my Facebook page a man commented that "Christianity is based on falsehoods and fables, and only idiots would adhere to that religion."  Social media has become a gateway for all manners of attacks and persecution against us, but it also opens up a means for us to share openly with those who "hunger and thirst" for Truth.  (Matthew 5:6)  It is a great responsibility for us, as Christian writers, to boldly proclaim the Truth, no matter the opposition levelled against us.

 "What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?"  (Romans 8:31)

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Romans 8:38-39)

I want to send out a "shout out" to Connie Inglis, InScribe's prayer warrior.  I have benefited immeasurably by the many times she has sent me an email saying she has prayed a Scripture passage for me.  This always greatly encourages me in keeping me focused on my writing ministry.  Thanks, Connie for your faithfulness!  We need prayer as we face an often hostile world that opposes our message of hope to the hopeless. 

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