October 29, 2018

The Story Behind “On The Day I Die” by Bob Jones

I wrote a post about living and called it, “On the Day I Die.”
Attention grabbing?
I hoped so.
The content has been shared in our local St Albert newspaper and on blogsites.

I wrote the post after going through three funerals in twenty-four hours on a holiday weekend. I helped lay to rest a 19-year old, an 89-year old and a 53-year old. Two were sudden deaths.
Even for a pastor that’s a lot of death to deal with.

Funerals are unparalleled moments in a pastor’s ministry. Caring for people at a time of crisis and grief is part of my calling. I lean into it. People become vulnerable in bereavement like no other passage in life.

Funerals affect me. At times deeply.

Each funeral reminds me of my own mortality. My day will come.
That reminder is a gift of life that comes from death.

After that particular holiday weekend I sat down and imagined what would happen on the day I died. Especially if my death was unexpected and while I was still serving as a lead pastor at North Pointe.

The process was cathartic.

To imagine the end of my days was a profitable way to see how I should be living the rest of my days. I highly recommend it to you.

What seems SO important and urgent is cast in a healthy perspective.

On the day I die, the few people who really know and truly love me will cry.
And so knowing this, I force myself to remember that my time with family and friends is finite. And fleeting. And precious.

It’s easy to waste so much daylight in the days before you die.
Don’t let your life be stolen by the bill of sale on all that you’ve been led to believe matters.
On the day you die, the fact is that much of it simply won’t. Matter.
Hug hugely.
Kiss tenderly.
Love without fear.
Live your one and only shining life for the one and only eternal God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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 grow hope, inspire readers, forge authentic faith in Jesus, and help others discover what's really important in life.

You can follow his writing at Pointes Of View.

October 28, 2018

Behind Jericho - by Bruce Atchison

Deliverance from Jericho is my memoir of how I ended up in a residential school for deaf and blind children. For six lonely years, my parents sent me five-hundred miles from my home in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta for months at a stretch.

Because I lived so far away from Vancouver, British Columbia, I was only allowed to return home during Christmas and summer. Additionally, my parents paid for the train tickets so I could visit for two Easters and the government paid for one Easter plane trip home.

These experiences scarred me deeply. For decades, even the mention of Jericho Hill School made me depressed.  I also suffered from bad dreams about being back there.

But thanks to a radio show called Hope in the Night, I learned how to deal with the traumas of my past. The host, June Hunt, told me that I could hand over the pain and those bad memories to Christ and he would heal my soul. Furthermore, she said I would have to keep on doing this as those bad thoughts would surface over and over for a while.

Thanks to this technique, I felt ready to write about my experiences a few years later. Doing so gave me the ability to release any claim I had on being a victim of that injustice. It also helped me explain to others what I went through.

Better still, our Lord experienced far worse injustices so he can identify with us. Hebrews 12:2 (KJV) says we should be, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

We know too that a day will come when our sorrows will be no more. Revelation 21:4 (KJV) assures us of this. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

I should add that June Hunt's method is based on the scriptures. We read in 1 Peter 5:7 (KJV) that we should be "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."

How wonderful it is that our Lord and Master understands our grief. He truly cares for us in so many diverse ways. This is something the world will never experience apart from him.

October 25, 2018

The Story Within By Vickie Stam

For me, there is always a story behind the story. They go together like pie and ice cream and my favourite, peanut butter and jam. Often there's a trigger that sets the story in motion leaving me with a craving for a quiet place and my computer. It's the perfect combination for a writer.

I'm just not able to predict where the story will go once it's been plucked out on my keyboard. Will I hit the send button, firing it off to a writing contest or will I hit print and read it out loud in a writer's group? I might even tuck the pages away, keeping them for my eyes only.  

Like most author's, I have stories in the works that still need to be completed. Somewhere there is a final chapter anxiously waiting to be written.  

For example, there is not a day that goes by without me thinking about the growing number of parents and children who are estranged from one another. 

I write about my own experience because I am one of these parents. Often times, it's my son's picture sitting on the end table in my living room that sparks the urge for me to write.  

I know that I'm not alone. I've met other parent's who are also separated from their children and all us for various reasons - hence the story behind the story. Mine is the result of a divorce, yet all of us share one thing in common --- an unfathomable pain. It's a sorrow that can be very overwhelming and has the potential to define our lives, if we let it. 

For most parents, their children are their lives and the pictures they have are meant to be cherished but for us there are times when these pictures serve as a sad reminder of a relationship that once was. 

Estrangement truly is a silent epidemic, one without a voice. It's a topic that's not an easy one to talk about. The fear of never reconciling here on earth is real and writing about my own experience helps me to manage that fear. It takes the sting out of life and helps strengthen my resolve that God is at work in the midst of this growing phenomenon.

In the meantime, I have to make a conscious decision each day to keep moving. Be happy! And when I struggle to find that joy, God lifts me out of my grief and places me in the arms of my wonderful husband, Tony whom I've been married to for twelve years.  

Funny thing is, we were like oil and water - a farm boy and city girl. Yet, here we are. Married. I'm a farmer's wife! That's something I never imagined because words like hogs, weaner pigs, manure, soybeans, planting and harvesting were just not a part of my world. It's definitely been a learning curve; one that I love.   

Even with this new life, I struggle to escape the painful things from my past. I feel a need to communicate, let things out in a way that feels safe. So writing for someone other than myself has always been a big deal for me.     

Tony was the first person that I ever shared my aspiration for writing with. And I will always be grateful for his willingness to offer a gentle critique, one that is born out of his love for me. He recognizes the long-standing pain in which I often write from.   

Everyday I crave this odd mix of oil and water that we've claimed as ours even though it may not sound like the perfect combination. You can be sure that behind this story, there is a story within - one that weaves a tale that only God himself could write. An unforeseen love story.    

August 5, 2006

October 24, 2018

Becoming a Writer by Michelle M. Brown

It took until after I had written the first draft for me to research the different methods that are used by various authors, in writing a book. I know I put the cart before the horse, but I had been explicitly encouraged by God to write my story. The thought of there being a process, more than just sitting down and writing, was unknown to me. I was amazed at the undertaking that is implemented in the planning stage of writing a book by some writers. The meticulous effort that is utilized in defining the topic, writing a proposal, creating an outline and setting up a work schedule so deadlines can be met.

My process for writing a book consisted of much less time and task management and more “go with the flow”. I sat down every morning with my bible, my devotional for the day and spent time with God. I then started writing. My time with God was my planning stage. Not for the book, but for me being in the right frame of mind to tackle the task God had assigned me. I wasn’t sure what direction the story would take or even what my message was. It was God’s story of my life, and I allowed Him to tell it through me. I didn’t need a plan because God had one.

It took me three months to write seventy thousand words. Some days I wrote for twenty minutes and other days I wrote for two hours. It was an emotional process that I allowed to ebb and flow as dictated by my ability to deal with the content. There was no schedule or order that I can pinpoint. Just God and I detailing a life shaped by adversity and circumstance. It was a journey of healing old wounds and discovering forgotten strengths.

The research for process came after I completed that first draft because it was time to edit what I had hammered out on my keyboard and make sense of it for other people to read. This step is slow and painful. Not because of the content, this time, but because my writing skills leave a lot to be desired. It is where I fall short and where I have decided to learn, 45 years after I entered the school system, so I can continue on this journey to be God’s writer.

I have recently been reading 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith by Michelle DeRusha. Fifty, courageous, Godly women who stepped out in faith between the years 1038-2013. Most were writers, all were called, few felt they had the ability, but all were willing to listen to God’s calling on their life and face opposition, ridicule, imprisonment and death. They genuinely are heroines in God’s army of women.

God called me to write, but he never said it would be easy and I wouldn’t have to work for it. Putting myself out there in this position of vulnerability has been challenging to my pride and often my self-esteem. In the end, though, I realize that God never calls us to do what is easy. He calls us to do what He needs, and with that comes its own blessing of being an obedient child that is pleasing to her Father.

"...for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." ~Romans 11:2

Michelle M. Brown was born and raised in British Columbia, Canada. She has a background in Marketing & Design. An avid hiker and adventure junkie she has embarked on a journey to conquer 50 adventurous activities in her 50th year.

October 22, 2018

The Story Behind the Story by Alan Anderson

I was honoured in early 2017 to have four of my stories published in the book “Good Grief People.” It was such a thrill to write this anthology on grief with Carolyn Wilker, Barbara Heagy, Ruth Smith Meyer, Glynis M. Belec and Donna Mann.

The story behind the story I will highlight here is “You Can Go Now, Sweetie.” In short it is a love story of a married couple over the years. The story was my way of saluting some special people in my life.

The special people I am referring to are those I call “my teachers.” I have mentioned them before on a post or two. Through my years of coming alongside people in situations of grief, serious illness and death and dying experiences, I came to love this area of work. It was one of the biggest honours of my life.

In my contribution to Good Grief People I wanted to pay homage to the people I met who trusted me with their experiences. Most were experiences of suffering that became part of their lives. Often times my teachers were people who experienced the death of their spouse.

In “You Can Go Now, Sweetie,” I capture some of the healthy emotional attachment long married couples have for each other. The couple in the story showed that love need not wane in one’s older years. It becomes stronger even in the face of terminal illness. This couple was not unique from my perception in regards to the strength of true love. Many couples I have ministered to or served had an abiding love for each other.

Not all of my teachers consisted of married couples. They were also people who never married or people who had been without a spouse for decades. My teachers were people who knew and lived with the pain of the death of a child. They were people suffering from a mental illness who heard voices in their heads that would not be quiet. My teachers were those who grieved the murder of a sibling due to hanging out with the wrong crowd.

I have come away with part of them all. I have their stories in my heart. As they have taught me I am humbled by the strength of human tenacity and the ability to move forward in life. They were not defined by their experience of suffering. They lived life with their physical or emotional scars intact yet determined now to live one day at a time.

Many of my teachers have died. There time came. If you, dear reader, have people you regard as your "teachers," I would suggest you love them while you can. Hold them close. Listen to their words. Cherish your memories with them for all too soon they pass from the scene.

I have reached a time where I am honoured some people consider me to be their "teacher." I never take this or these precious people for granted. We are in this life together and can help each other along the way.

My final day of work in healthcare was one I will always remember. The leadership team I worked with hosted a retirement gathering for me. A number of staff including my boss attended. Even more special was the fact they invited some of the residents of the care home. They were some of my teachers. When the gathering was almost over and I was getting ready to leave my teachers hugged me. I knew I had touched their lives and they had touched mine. I didn’t need anything else.

Blog: scarredjoy.wordpress.com

October 21, 2018

None of This is a Surprise ... by Jocelyn Faire

This is not a surprise ending.

While contemplating the story behind the story idea, I had 90% of my blog written when something changed my focus. So here it is Saturday night and I have to toss out my original blog, because of an urgent request for prayer.
The story: My daughter and her family are faith-based workers in a North African country that is hostile to workers. They have gone into the country with a legitimate business plan, but share the light and love of Jesus whenever they can. At times the intensity of physical and spiritual needs bring them to the brink of exhaustion. Recently a new family arrived in this country to help in the work of sharing the Good News. In the past five weeks cultural and personal situations have arisen to overwhelm this couple ... and just two days ago a “routine” blood test showed extremely low platelet counts for their seven-year-old daughter. Suddenly the text message from my daughter read: **URGENT PRAYER REQUEST** Bella has been leukemia-free for about three years, and now it looked as though a relapse was imminent. Doctors on both sides of the ocean were consulted. First Bella was in need of an emergency blood transfusion to allow her to board a plane to fly back to Canada. The text said: Please pray that an ambulance will be found to transport blood across the city. Then a praise that it happened. Tickets were secured for the next day for the dad and his critically ill daughter to fly out, followed by his wife and the other three children two days later. My daughter was trying to find her own flight to travel up to be with this family; the airlines were in a slowdown. The text came in as: “Right now they are asking for two hours of family time before boarding. Traffic has been awful since the flooding ... again, asking for the Waymaker to show the way ... the darkness feels very heavy now. I myself am trying to secure a ticket to go up this afternoon and help her pack up the house, hold the other kids, wipe tears.” My daughter was unable to get a flight and needed to transport eight hours in a group taxi/small bus. On the bus, she sits beside a lady whose brother was killed that morning. "We've shared tears."
My own anxiety rose; I know my daughter has been running on exhaust fumes. And I prayed that she would have the “endless energy and boundless strength" Paul speaks of in Ephesians 1 in The Message. But where does one go, when the needs are so great, and the exhaustion sets in?
Then the picture of Bella arrives, this seven-year-old girl with her smiling brown eyes and her big grin-a second grader grin, where the new front teeth still appear a tad too big for the mouth, and tears form in my eyes and find their way down my cheeks as I look at her innocent face and feel the pain of a parent coping with the pain of a child.
Many times I have tried to encourage my daughter to take time for self-care, and there seems so little time for that. Galatians 6:9 keeps them pressing on: “Let us not grow weary in doing good especially to those of the faith”
And the faith of this family being tested, the picture of the seven year old daughter, keep me on my knees. And I am asking for you to support this family as they trust God for their daughter's ultimate health and healing.
And as I think of this, and some of my own deep struggles at times when life was difficult. And I text my daughter that “None of this is a surprise to God--there is some reassurance knowing that.” And my daughter writes back that: “It's true. (But) Always easier to accept when we're sitting one “relational step” away from the bleeding heart of any given tragedy/crisis."

The ultimate story behind the story is that none of these struggles we go through come as a surprise to God. 
Please join me in prayer support for this family and for my daughter and her family in their ministry.

Photo is from the Grand Canyon and if you look closely you will see a rainbow :)

October 19, 2018

A Little bit of me by Eunice Matchett

Storytelling has always been a big part of me. As small children after we were sent to bed to go to sleep my sister and I would lay in the dark telling each other stories in whispered voices.

Over the years, I’ve had many stories published in Sunday School take-home  papers. Some of these stories originated  from my own childhood experiences, or my children’s, but most of them, because of their relevancy, came into being from watching my niece’s and nephew’s antics as they grew up. When one of them would do something unique, I’d ask myself ‘what if?” then put the possibilities to paper.

I love history. Much of my time is spent reading about it. Writing Historicals is what I would expect myself to do. I did so twice. When a character caught my attention, I’d research that person until I knew him/her as well as a best friend. Of course, when I talked about them as if they were a best friend I would get a few raised eyebrows here and there.

After I finished Beyond the Purple Sky, my thoughts moved beyond history to a topic close to my heart. Bullying. Rather than telling the story through the eyes of someone trying to survive bulling, I addressed it from an adult’s pov trying to cope and live with the wounds years later. Because I used situations from my own growing up years, writing about these situations was difficult, but once I addressed them, God was able to bring a degree of healing my way.

From there, I went to a two-book suspense story dealing with the ups and downs of widowhood. Again, I sprinkled my own experiences into the narrative, and then added the ‘what if’ element to it.  

Although I haven’t thought about it before this month’s topic, I now realize I do leave a part of myself in each tale I spin. Not to do so would be like trying to make candy without sugar. For me a seed of emotion has to be planted in order to  evoke those feelings in others.

October 18, 2018

The Story That Changed My Life - Gloria Guest

It was just a high school English essay assignment. And although I enjoyed English and writing I was a procrastinator, just as I am now. And so I postponed it until the night before it was due. To make matters worse, our family was getting company that evening. And so I rushed to get it done. I handed it in and forgot about it.

When my English teacher handed back my story, she had written on the top that she thought that I should enter it into a National Writing Contest for high school students. I was pleased with my good mark and felt complimented by her suggestion and then I forgot about it.

My teacher, did not forget about it. Diminutive in stature she made up for it in determination and what I considered down-right nagging behaviour by constantly reminding me of the deadline to enter.  It was only when she took to stopping me in the hallway and at my locker that I acknowledged her as the victor of our little stand-off. She had hit me right where I couldn’t take it; putting me in the spotlight in front of my friends and others. I could see that she wouldn’t quit. And so, during my noon hours I typed out my good copy, taking note of her editorial comments and entered in that silly contest. And then I forgot about it.

It was sometime in the spring that the results from the contest came in and I was told by my very excited, beaming English teacher that I had placed first place in Alberta for my entry and would receive a scholarship. I was stunned. And due to my low enthusiasm and self- esteem I felt somewhat embarrassed. She had to hound me in the hallway once again to show up to have my picture taken with the award for the yearbook and the moment I had to step on stage in front of the entire high school to accept that award was awkward and anxiety producing. However, I was happy about the money. I knew I could put it to good use somewhere; I just didn’t know where. And so I put it in the bank in a savings account and for the most part forgot about it.

That summer I worked in Edmonton. I hadn’t had a lot of freedom in my life and so my newfound freedom in Edmonton was a little heady for me. I would ride the busses around the city, looking for work or finding interesting places. It was on one of these outings that I met a guy, who became my boyfriend. Little did I know though that the truck he picked me up in for our first date was actually stolen and later in the summer he ended up in prison.  And so, with my one reason for staying in Edmonton gone, I decided to go with plan B and head to Bible College in Eston, Sk. with the money I had from my scholarship being the only money I had to even begin to pay for my tuition.

It was at College that I began to lay down a more secure foundation in my life than I had ever experienced before. I was a Christian but my compass had become shaky, my faith weak and my attitude towards life and God was cynical, mistrusting and still on the rebellious side. I needed a lot of inner healing but that would only come in time, down through the years. But God had a plan. He knew that a big part of that healing would come in the form of a young man that I met one day at the college mail boxes; a man who would become my future husband. I don’t recall what exactly we said to each other after hello, but I must have shared something about my life because apparently my future husband went back to his dorm room and prayed to God for an opportunity to help me. God answered his prayer. We married two and a half years later and he has had many opportunities to be a support to me in my healing journey for thirty-five years now! {And I to him}.

I’ve often thought of the difference in my life that writing that story made. And the difference that one teacher made. My own rebellion almost didn’t allow any of it to happen. But God was stronger  and He prevailed. He has prevailed over my stubbornness, my hard-heartedness, my fight or flight responses that I learned growing up and many more of my ingrained attitudes. Through everything I’ve been through and each stage of my journey He has taught me more about His love and His grace.

I realize that I didn’t even tell you what my story was about. That’s not the real story here though. The real story is what played out behind the scenes. It’s the story that in all reality changed the trajectory of my life. It’s a story that I’ll never forget.

October 17, 2018

The Story Behind the Story by Lynn Dove

The Story Behind “Even Though I Walk Through the Valley”

In 2011, I won a Word Guild Canadian Christian Writing Award for an article I wrote in 2010, entitled, “Even Though I Walk Through the Valley”.  My daughter had suffered a traumatic miscarriage and our entire family was trying to negotiate the deep, deep valley of grieving the loss of what would have been our first grandchild.  For my daughter, it was an intense time of sorrow as she and her husband sought comfort from the Lord, but also asked those “Why?” questions of God.  For me, seeing my child suffer so in her grief, led me to express my heartache in writing for her in particular, but also writing and posting an article on my Journey Thoughts blog for all those navigating mountaintop as well as valley experiences in their lifetimes.

One of my favourite places is the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island.  My husband grew up there, and we continue to visit the area on a regular basis.  It seemed a fitting setting to describe the beauty of both the mountaintop of Mount Washington and the Comox Valley.  I was so well-acquainted with the area it was easy for me to contrast the actual setting of Comox, and to use it as a wonderful analogy for the “mountaintop” and “valley” experiences of life. 

I did a fair bit of research on the article as I read commentaries and online articles that exegeted the 23rd Psalm so I could get a better understanding of the wording and meaning of that beautiful Psalm.  I was especially captivated by the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep as he leads his flock to greener pastures in search of nourishment.  Sheep follow the shepherd as he guides them up and over rocky terrain.  Like sheep, we follow the Good Shepherd, Jesus.  He knows us and we know Him.  “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—“  (John 10:14)

I camped out for weeks in the Psalms and read and reread Psalm 23.  One line in particular drew most of my attention: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley…” (Psalm 23:4)  One word, “through” jumped off the page at me and I took note of it in my notes, and then when I wrote the article I highlighted it in the last paragraph of my article:

“My family and I are walking through one of those “valleys” right now.  Notice I say we’re “walking through“, we’re not rushing through it, nor are we going to camp here indefinitely.  We’re walking through, taking our time, being comforted by the Good Shepherd, and we’ll move on when He says move on.  Until such time, we will take nourishment from Him here in the valley, and though our eyes may stray to the mountain from time to time, we will find rest and comfort here for now.  “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.”

It is humbling that this article still gets read and commented on eight years after it was originally published.  Its message is timeless, I suppose.  My sweet daughter, walked through that particular valley of miscarriage only to carry to term our first grandson in February, 2011.   Two years later our granddaughter was born.  When our daughter-in-law suffered two miscarriages before giving birth to a boy in December 2017, and then our fourth grandbaby in May 2018, we walked through those dark valleys with her before we experienced the mountaintop joy of welcoming those boys into our family. 

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 

October 16, 2018

The Heart of the Story by Nina Faye Morey

Many of my stories are based on events in my life. My stories aren’t driven by these experiences, but by the emotions they elicit. Writing about these memories from the heart means my feelings will form the heart of the story. If I can tap into these emotions, then my tales will touch my readers. They may not have experienced a similar event, but I know they will have experienced the same emotions.

My readers want to be immersed in my fictional world. They want to identify with my protagonist—or perhaps, they favour the antagonist. Therefore, I need to create characters my readers can become emotionally invested in. Then what touches my characters’ hearts will also move the hearts of my readers. They will see the world through her eyes; feel what she feels. For instance, they may never have experienced skydiving, but they want to feel the adrenaline rush, the emotional high, the heart-pounding fear my character feels as she steps out of the plane into the void of space, putting her faith in a skimpy piece of nylon.

Whether my readers will be drawn into and emotionally satisfied by this scene depends solely on my skill as a writer. You see, I’ve never actually parachuted from a plane, but that needn’t stop me from creating a spellbinding scene. Remember, it’s not the events but the feelings that are at the heart of the story. So to make it believable, I’ll need to mine memorable events in my life for those strong feelings of excitement, fear, and faith. I can’t be afraid to relive and reveal my personal memories and heartfelt emotions. They’re vital to my success as a writer.

Therefore, I’m pleased to share “the story behind the story” of “Isabella’s Green Shamrock Sweater” (Canadian Messenger, March 2010, pp. 24-5). The inspiration for this story was my memory of being bullied by classmates for wearing green to school the Friday before St. Patrick’s Day. Managing to free my heart from the pain of hurt feelings through forgiveness is what forms the heart of the story. Here is an excerpt:

“Why are you wearing that sweater with green shamrocks?” Jenna demanded to know in a haughty tone as she came up behind Isabella.

“My grandmother knit this sweater for me to wear on St. Patrick’s Day,” Isabella replied proudly.

“Today isn’t St. Patrick’s Day, stupid!” Robin sneered.

“Yeah, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t until Saturday,” Jenna added with her usual air of superiority.

“And you’re not Irish, anyway! So why are you even celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?” Robin taunted Isabella as she shoved her into a corner of the cloakroom. Isabella recovered her balance just in time to feel Jenna shove her from the other side.

A crowd of students began to gather around the threesome. Isabella felt her face flush and tears welled up in her eyes as she turned to see that some were merely staring, while several others were laughing at her.

When Miss Fran, Isabella’s history teacher, learns of her classmates’ bullying, she uses it as an opportunity to teach her class the story of St. Patrick. They learn how he was captured by Irish marauders as a teenager and sold into slavery. Relying on prayer and a vision from the Holy Spirit, he escapes after six years. He eventually forgives his captors for the hardship and hurt they caused him and returns to Ireland as a Christian missionary and bishop. Miss Fran urges her class to honour him on St. Patrick’s Day by following his example of forgiveness.

Unfortunately, it’s the traumatic events in our lives that form our most indelible memories and trigger our most intense emotions. That’s the reason I chose this childhood incident of bullying as “the story behind the story.” 

Photo Credits: Pixabay

October 15, 2018

Too Many Stories! by Tracy Krauss

This month we're sharing the 'story behind the story'. But which story? I must admit my imagination is often fueled by many and varied stimuli...

Conspiracy of Bones (formerly And the Beat Goes On) - inspired by research while homeschooling my kids when we discovered holes in evolutionary theory compared to documented evidence backing up intelligent design and what the Bible says about creation.

My Mother the Man-Eater - inspired partly by characters I had created while playing the 'Sims' and studying the book of Hosea. I love the boundless grace of God displayed in this story - and the title came to me in the shower!

Play It Again - inspired by listening to the radio while driving one time (don't remember the song!) and my friend's account of visiting Hecla Island (in Manitoba) for a conference.

Wind Over Marshdale - inspired by my hometown of Mossbank, various real life 'characters' we met in our many moves, and an interest in Native spirituality as it relates to Christianity after many lively discussions with several Indigenous friends who have strong views on all sides of the debate.

Neighbours Series 1 - inspired by 'people watching' in airports and coffee shops along with conversations with family and friends about 'boom and bust' economic cycles, especially around non-renewable resources and agriculture. Also inspired by Maeve Binchy's style of using multiple POVs to tell one story. Parts of this book were written as a 'nanowrimo' project.

Keeping Up With the Neighbours Series 2 - readers seemed to really like Jed Malloy, a minor character from Series 1, (and I did too!) so I tapped into my many Newfie friends and wrote a whole book about Jed's family. So fun! I love these guys!

Lone Wolf - The question, "But what happened to Thomas?" (from Wind Over Marshdale) kept re-occurring. Plus, I also felt drawn to his character and wanted him to get a happy ending, so I wrote this short novella length sequel.

Three Strand Cord - Ecclesiastics 4:12 (a three strand cord is not easily broken) was the starting point coupled with my observations that close friends and even couples aren't necessarily 'compatible', yet it works somehow, because one person's strengths balance the other's weaknesses. This one also started as a 'nanowrimo' project, too.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg! I've got many more in various stages of 'completeness' - inspired by:  my love of science fiction; a conversation with my son about early eastern block hockey players who literally took their lives in their hands by defecting; an idea that came after hearing about a mercy killing on the news; a drive along a windy road full of switchbacks... the list goes on! And I didn't even mention my children's book inspired by a song my mother used to sing to us as kids, or some non-fiction based on speaking engagements, or my need to organize my prayer journals, or my plays. Now there is another whole blog post!

Some people think I'm full of energy because, from appearances, it looks like I'm quite productive. Perhaps I am, but it's mostly because my head is so full I have to keep producing in order to let off some of the pressure!

Tracy Krauss just keeps on letting off steam as she writes, writes, writes from her home in Northern BC. Visit her website for more - fiction on the edge without crossing the line - http://tracykrauss.com

October 14, 2018

Equipped: How God Prepared Me to Write My Latest Book - Ruth L. Snyder

God is amazing! When was the last time you stopped and worshipped Him—not because you wanted or needed anything, but because you just enjoy fellowshipping with Him so much?

As I look back at how God prepared me to write Equipped: Ephesians 6 Devotionals to Empower and Make You Victorious in Everyday Struggles, I am amazed at His grace and mercy, and humbled that He chooses to use weak earthly vessels like me to share His glorious message.

I first heard about God, my Heavenly Father, from my earthly parents. I heard them praying when people were afraid to come to church because lightening struck the giant tree where our church members met. I watched their example of standing firm in faith against witch doctors and their curses. I experienced God's financial provision for our family.

Jesus Christ became my personal Saviour when I confessed my sin and accepted His forgiveness as a five-year-old. Four years later, I attended school five hundred miles away from where my parents were working, and the "faith of my fathers" became my own faith in practical ways. Several years after that, I was challenged to stand firm in my faith while attending a Christian school where others made fun of my devotion to Jesus. Camp ministry during my high school summers provided many opportunities to share the gospel, nurture others in their faith, and play the piano by ear. During these years a couple of high school teachers encouraged me in my writing and gave me practical experience working on the school newsletter and yearbook. After graduation, I chose to attend Prairie Bible College, where the foundation of my faith was further strengthened. I was able to experience a variety of work including cleaning, supervising, doing computer work for a college teacher, and helping teachers rewrite course syllabi. When I finished college, I enjoyed working in the Prairie Book Room, where I learned how to place orders, track stock, and deal with frustrated customers.

Then God began the training in earnest. My husband and I experienced the confusion and pain of infertility and a miscarriage. My first published article, Gifts From A Loving God, chronicled our journey through loss into the incredible and challenging world of adopting children with special needs. My writing journey continued as I took courses from The Children's Institute of Literature, joined The Word Guild and InScribe Christian Writers' Fellowship, entered contests and began blogging. This led to more opportunities for publication and eventually I wrote my first set of ebooks: Learn Twitter—10 Beginning Steps and Learn Twitter—10 Intermediate Steps. When people asked for a paperback version, I learned how to self-publish on Amazon with Twitter Decoded: Tips and Tools for Authors. My spiritual journey deepened as I experienced challenges in parenting, marriage, and leadership. My writing life and spiritual journey continued to intersect. God took me through deep waters where I knew I was helpless without Him: a prodigal child, separation from my husband, and my dad's struggle with dementia. Our daughter is now happily married and the mother of our first grandson. My husband and I have been reunited and are working on our marriage. My dad's struggle with dementia makes me look forward to heaven.

When God laid on my heart that I should write a devotional on spiritual warfare, based on Ephesians 6:10-18, I resisted. However, God's still, small voice persisted. (I share more detail in my devotional in the November 2018 issue of FellowScript.) Today the manuscript is in the final edits. My goal is to have the ebook and paperback available in November.

Are you writing a book? Tell us about it and share the story behind your work!

Sheila Webster and other executive members
presented me with this cross in 2016, which
reminds me to put on the full armour of God!

Ruth L. Snyder lives in northeastern Alberta with her husband and children. She writes in a variety of genres, sharing the lessons God is teaching her about walking with God, parenting, marriage, self publishing, and healthy living. Connect with Ruth at ruthlsnyder.com.