In one month from now, it will all be over! But it's not too late to register for this year's exciting InScribe Fall Conference held at the lovely and tranquil Providence Renewal Centre in Edmonton.
You can read more about this year's revolutionary 'Open Space' concept here or here.
Our keynote for the Friday banquet is Sigmund Brouwer - award winning author and long time friend of InScribe! Don't miss it!
To register, go to our website: inscribe.org
August 28, 2019
Did you know that there are two kinds of hope? The first is a wish for something good. The second is an assurance of good things from God Almighty. The first is based on wishful thinking but the second is based on the Lord's faithfulness.
A Canadian band called Klaatu wrote a song about hope. It's part of a concept album about a lighthouse keeper on a devastated planet. The last of his kind, this alien spent the last day of his life coming up with a universal prayer. Hope was the only idea which fit his criteria.
Listen to Klaatu's song here.
The Bible has much to say about both kinds of hope. One example of the first kind of hope, or the lack of it, is Job 7:6 (KJV). "My days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle, and are spent without hope."
But we have the experiences of thousands of years of faithful believers that the trials of our lives aren't in vain. Psalms 31:24 (KJV) reminds us, "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD."
Our hope is an abiding trust in our heavenly Father and his good plan for us. Psalms 38:15 (KJV) expresses this well. "For in thee, O LORD, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God."
And like the psalmist wrote in Psalms 42:5 (KJV), our hope in our heavenly Father can lift us out of even the deepest depression. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance."
The Apostle Paul, persecuted and on trial, held onto the hope promised to Israel and all who would believe in the Saviour. Acts 26:7 (KJV) says, "Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews."
This hope is more than a wish, it's a work of sanctification. As 1 Peter 3:15 (KJV) reminds us, "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:"
So, what do you think of Klaatu's "hope" and what I've written? Please feel free to comment.
August 26, 2019
I need new spiritual glasses that see in the dark.
I often find myself in black circumstances, struggling with health or relationships or choices, and when I realize I have been stumbling about I am often confounded by where I find myself. My vision has blurred. I squint but can hardly see the shadow of God moving. I try to follow but become distracted, then I stub my big toe on whatever circumstance has befallen me, and the pain shoots through my heart and mind.
In those times, I am not the least bit happy. I begin to complain and whine about my situation. I slip away from God’s footsteps and the path He leads me on, falling into the ditch to wallow in the mud of self-pity.
Yes, I’ve decided I need new spiritual glasses so I can see my way through those ever-present dark times. Not like sunglasses, that shade my eyes from stark reality, but Son-glasses with infra-red lenses that show Christ’s blood awash over my life; God’s fingerprints in, through and over all the situations I find myself in.
Do you need this sight as well? Do you know where we can get optics like that?
The words of Paul in Romans 12:12 provides a prescription for spiritual glasses that see in the dark.
"Rejoice in hope,
be patient in tribulation,
be constant in prayer."
Like my last prescription for new bifocal lenses, I had difficulty seeing with understanding at first, so I needed to study each word of this verse. My interpretation is this:
Be glad. Delight in God because in God you have placed your trust.
Persevere with no complaining, because God is with you even in the struggles.
Continually converse with God because God is worthy of thanks and adoration.
That makes it clear, doesn’t it? You see, it’s all about focus.
I know these spiritual spectacles are not easy to wear even when life is going well, so it’s no surprise that, like bifocals, it may take time to adjust to rejoicing, not complaining, and thanking God during difficult circumstances. The discipline to do so will chafe, especially those places right on top of my nose that are easily seen or just behind the ear that are less obvious to others. I will want to stop what I know is best because I feel the pain and discomfort.
However, I know the more I wear them, the more I will become accustomed to the fit and to the clarity of sight. I believe that as I delight, continue, and faithfully trust God day in and day out, I will be able to wear these spiritual glasses even when I find myself in times of dismay.
This prescription will light up God’s path for me through any circumstance. Focusing on this view will show me all that I have to praise God for. I will see, by faith, that I can trust God to lead me, to hold my hand in the darkness just as He does in the light.
When I refuse to focus on my circumstances but choose instead to capture thoughts of discontent and squish them, like bugs, between Christ’s death on the cross and His rising from the grave, I am delighted, not dismayed. I won’t need to complain to everyone who will listen. Whining is packed away as I look forward with excitement to the adventure God is taking me on. I will quietly discuss with Him all my questions and observances. Step by step I will continue focusing on life with God. His glory lights the way. I do trust He has a good plan for me, despite the difficult trail I have stumbled along.
When my spiritual eyes focus on God, I cannot help but delight in Him.
I can focus on the hope that salvation provides, and so rejoice.
God holds my future.
I can carry on, step by step, without stopping and without complaining, because I am not alone.
God holds my hand.
I can constantly converse with and adore God, because He shows His love over and over.
God holds my heart.
As I learn to wear these spiritual glasses that focus on God, I may still stub my big toe in the dark, but through faith I will not lose sight of the One who walks with me, holding my hand.
August 24, 2019
Romans 12 speaks of living sacrifices and expressing love. So then, as a Christian writer, my writings should reflect the thoughts of this chapter. Being hopeful, patient, caring, thinking of others are all opposites of what we see today; despair, impatience, self-centredness, vengefulness. Now that’s not to say that stories cannot have any of the negative human elements. A story with only a positive side would be a pleasant, light story but it would lack realism. A character or some charters need to show some negative sides of the human nature while other characters need to show the positive side in order to have realism and conflict to hold the readers’ attention. But it is the positive side that should win or make changes for the better. That doesn’t mean that the story necessarily ends totally on a happy note, but a reader should be left with a feeling of hope. Well, that’s how I’d like my stories to run.
The Bible is filled with many stories. Some end sadly; in fact, some are downright cruel and bloody. Stephen’s story is one of brutality and false accusations. He was stoned to death while others stood by watching. (Acts 6: 54-60) Saul was one of the people witnessing the stoning. It is interesting to note that Stephen was accused of “speaking blasphemous words”; the same charge that was laid against Jesus. We are told that Stephen “kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, ‘Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” (Act 7:60) Much the same as Jesus’ last words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Stephen demonstrated his faith and upright character through the strength of the Holy Spirit. “Devout men carried Stephen to his burial and made great lamentation over him” (Acts 8:2) while Saul continued “dragging men and women to prison”. (Acts 8:3) Such a tragic story but it doesn’t end completely on a sad note. Acts 8:4 tells us “they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4) Despite the sadness of this story, it ends with a sense of hope; of marching to victory; the work of spreading the Gospel message continued.
When I struggle with story ideas, sermon topics, or even simple greeting card messages prayer always helps. Romans 12:12 reminds us to “be constant in prayer”. Prayer is communication; speaking to God and listening to Him. And so, I pray and wait patiently to hear His gentle voice; to hear the message He wants me to convey. After all, His message is the one worth telling.
Labels: Shirley S. Tye
August 22, 2019
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12 ESV).
I have always had an affinity for people who suffer. Coming alongside hurting people for so long reflects my childhood. For reasons, I won’t reveal here, there was a lot of “tribulation” in my early life.
As a boy my concept of God was one of judgment and thunderous volcanic explosions. I expressed prayer to God out of fear. My prayers began with lines like, “God, I’ll be good…” or “God, I don’t know if you care about me but…” That is how I lived my childhood. I was a timid boy, and perhaps my timidity encouraged my fear. I remember thinking many times I wished I could be a grown up.
When I was a boy in Scotland I discovered writing. Writing saved me. My love for writing didn’t come out of the blue. In my InScribe blog post of Sept. 22, 2015, I wrote about a schoolteacher I remember and love to this day. Her name was Miss Gordon. Here is an excerpt of the post.
From being with Miss Gordon several times during lunch or after school I learned I loved to write. The writing was how I spoke into the world and I expressed my feelings. Miss Gordon and her care for me somehow unleashed my writing.–(InScribe blog post of Sept. 22, 2015)
Miss Gordon helped me know there was hope for me. She encouraged me. Miss Gordon allowed me to be me. This was freedom. This wonderful and caring woman, who had no children of her own, let me know I mattered. I have never forgotten her. God used Miss Gordon to introduce me to hope. She was my hope.
Tribulation can be overcome and endured. For instance, God’s people have endured suffering or tribulations for centuries. We are people of hope.
Tribulation, suffering, grief, pain, etc. have always made their presence known in life. When experiencing tribulation my patience may be hesitant at first. I can never, however, discount the might, the power, or the tender loving care of hope. Hope in spite of tribulation has helped me mature in life and faith.
My writing has also matured. I know I am not a well-known writer and that’s okay. I no longer hide my writing and this is a big step for me. I’m still an introvert and not the most outgoing person yet can socialize with people and enjoy them. This is also a big step.
I have a tagline I use for my writing and workshops. I think I’ve shared this in another blog post but can’t remember when. My tagline is “Touched by grief, held by hope.” Over several decades now, I have come alongside people acquainted with grief. They are my people and audience. Hope bonds and holds us together.
Tribulation does not rule over me. Without tribulation or grief or sorrowful experiences, I would not know the depth of hope God promises. Devoid of hardships, the love of God would be foreign to me.
August 21, 2019
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
These three beautiful phrases provide a safe nest for a hurting heart. This verse invites rather than commands, as though Paul is letting us know in the kindest way that God is for us. This is His wise encouragement on how best to get through the tough times.
How can I even begin to express to people what Hope has done for me? Three years ago, I led a grief seminar where a woman said to me, “You use the word hope a lot, what do you mean by it?”This was an open seminar and even though the host was Christian she advised me that most of the attendees were not. Each of the group members had significant recent loss. I was thrown off a bit with the question and recognized that hope is a term we believers toss around thinking others have a similar definition for it. I explained that for me hope had a spiritual component to it, hope was what allowed me to believe that there was still an expectation of having something to look forward to. And for myself, I knew that who or what we put our hope in is what really matters. Hope in God gives me confidence that whatever I go through, I will not go through it alone. That is worth rejoicing over. That is what gives me an inner smile; because I do not grieve as those who have no hope. Life is very tough when you have lost hope. Hope grows in the shadows, and shadows are dispensed by the son-light.
Hope is a gift to be shared. Recently on a return visit to Alberta and the condo I lived in for five years, I met Elysse. We had lived in the same building for five years. I knew her as the owner of the trendy consignment store I loved to shop. She knew me as a client and a friendly neighbour. I said hello to her as she sat in the lobby waiting for someone at the door. She made some reference to not having seen me ... a bit more chit chat followed ... then she said: “since my daughter died” ... at which point I stood up and asked “Can I give you a hug? I know what it is like to lose a daughter.” Conversation and support followed. She asked questions of me, I spoke from the heart, I held her hand, I told her I knew how hard it was ... she spilled out more and more. Several people walked by us in the lobby, some in curious stare, others ignoring us. I sat close to her, frequently rubbed her shoulder. This was a holy moment, God and I knew it. My heart breaks when I hear a mother open up with her loss of a young adult child/any age child, and I want that mother to know that she is not alone in this struggle. She has others who have gone through this. The outcome is not mine to know, she just needs the message of love, encouragement and caring support for her hurting heart.
Patience in tribulation. Tribulation means different things, but it always is a painful and difficult time. Chaim Potok says: One learns of the pain of others by suffering one's own pain, my father would say, by turning inside oneself, by finding one's own soul. And it is important to know of pain. I cannot claim to have patience in tribulation, I just know that the pain of grief is like a shadow that hangs around even on a sunny day.
Although I know I will never feel as if I am constant enough in prayer, I do believe that prayer is the key we have been given to unlock heaven's door for inner sanity and peace.
With the help of the spirit, these three phrases invite me to experience the strength to live with hope in the everyday ordinary aspects of a life filled with reasons to rejoice. May my words, written or spoken reflect this.
August 20, 2019
As a Christian writer, I recover words to present them in an inspiring way. However, digging to unearth the words during these past two years of post-concussion recovery has been strenuous regardless of my efforts.
I keep focusing on God, searching for words to write through His guidance. Still recovering words for others, finding it humbling to face a difficult concussion recovery.
“I assure you, your brain’s capacity to think and function still remains. But you will experience fatigue more quickly as your processing ability requires more energy and focus,” my counselor says.
Those words meant to reassure me that I am not crazy, but that I am going to operate differently regardless of my efforts.
Months later, I drove farther distances as my double vision disappeared due to vision therapy exercises. My physical confidence increased as I regained a firmer, more steady balance. I could dance with the grandkids in the kitchen and run after them on the playground. I had achieved a great physical recovery, but my mental processing had not changed.
Currently, my thoughts and ideas still surface when I resume my writing, but I am limited by how long I can endure thinking. I make plans to write and then I realize I need to rearrange my schedule to accommodate how my brain is functioning, or rather fatiguing.
At the end of July, I decided to attend a three-day writer’s conference through on-line streaming. The content would be available for several months, so I didn’t feel pressured by time constraints. However, I wanted to try to attend in real time to prove to myself that I could concentrate through consecutive sessions.
At first, I felt defeated and overwhelmed. My husband pointed out that I had managed to listen and watch two complete sessions before I felt tired and overdone. “You took notes as you were taking in information, that’s amazing!”
I thought back to when I had attended this conference in person several years ago, interacting in crowded rooms, enjoying conversations between sessions, attending the exciting worship time, meeting fellow writers for lively and inspiring lunches and dinners. I cringed as I thought about enduring that over a few days. I knew that livestreaming those first sessions had been a gift for me.
Fix your eyes on God and smile, I reminded myself.
My brain may be completely intact, but my processing ability simply drags slowly behind me when I want it to perform. I want to enjoy intense conversations again with fellow writers, I want to grapple with words and recover them in unique ways to inspire others. I want to follow through with a writing plan and not be sidelined by brain fatigue.
I am not crazy, but I still need to accept that I am going to operate differently regardless of my efforts.
Regardless of my efforts.
Life in tandem with God.
Regardless of my efforts He offers grace and mercy.
Regardless of my efforts He reveals what I cannot see or hardly even envision.
Regardless of my efforts He reassures me and clears the mists of fatigue.
Regardless of my efforts I can rejoice in the sporadic blessings of my writing endeavours.
Progressing through this post-concussion recovery could overtake every moment of my day, as I try to be better than the brain blur that descends into the corners of my mind’s clarity. It creeps and covers my thoughts, my ideas, my words. Unseen and unsubstantiated by anyone, it causes unexpected and annoying hindrances. Fixing my eyes on God and recovering words that He provides often requires too much of me. Oh, dear God, please return the smile to my face!
Recently I heard a woman speaking about her particular post-concussion journey. “How would you describe your current situation?” asked the interviewer. “I am not 100% who I was, but I am 100% who I need to be.”
The other week I am blessed with a day when I am pushing my grandchildren on the swings in our backyard. I begin reciting a favorite children’s poem adding on funny verses meant for the three of us. “Oh, Nana you’re so silly,” my granddaughter shouts to the sky as she pumps her legs into the air, chiming in with her ideas. My grandson kicks his feet to emphasize the gurgling giggles erupting from his delight.
This, this is all I need. Still pulling out words to be a crazy and joyful Nana! Hallelujah!
Regardless of my efforts, I still see my God even when I am down in the dumps. I am smiling as I watch how He wipes out my brain blur and, in these moments, I am 100% who I need to be!
August 18, 2019
Writing has often not been easy for me. I’ve felt blocked and held back more often than not but not wanting to completely dry up like a dry old river bed, I carry on in small ways. The topic for this months blog got me thinking more about what writing actually means to me in spite of the obstacles though. It reminded me of a blog I’d actually written about motherhood a few years back and got the idea of comparing it to a river. I thought, what better way to help my words to flow and break free than to write about a river….in comparison to something near and dear to my heart, something that has definitely challenged me but brought me much more joy than I could have ever imagined; changing me even while allowing me to discover myself….But for this blog I decided to adapt it to being a writer with its many changes and challenges as many of the same feelings fit. How amazing and revealing is that?? My writing is like a life force deep within me that teams with creativity and promise. flowing forward with expectant hope.
Like a River
Writing can been compared to many things, such as a budding flower or a mountain to climb, but for myself, thinking back over my over my writing years, I see my experience as being more like a river.
My middle name of Lynn, means cascade or waterfall so perhaps that is why I have always felt an affinity to water, rivers and water falls. But I’m sure it’s also due to the fact that I spent my formative years in Fergus, Ontario where the beautiful Grand River runs through the town first named Little Falls because of its scenic water falls downtown.  From there it travels through the quaint town of Elora where I spent my Junior High School years and spills into the Elora Gorge with its 22 metre high cliffs and where many a school truant spent their afternoons diving from the high rocks and swimming in the gorge’s deep blue waters.
My high school years were then spent in Athabasca, Alberta where the fast-moving Athabasca River originating from the Columbia Glacier rushes through the town. Flowing along ice fields and through gorges, its banks home to many wildlife habitat , one can almost envision the fur traders that once traveled by canoe up and down its dangerous current.
To me, rivers are life-giving, steadfast, fascinating in their ebb and flow and determination to move forward no matter the obstacles in its path. Ever changing, the river flows from a source often larger than itself ; sometimes rushing, diverging and then converging again; other times cascading gently over small rocks and through gully’s to eventually turn off into a babbling brook running through the woods or even become the tiniest of rivulets breaking through a crevice. But always, whether it’s a mighty force or a small stream it flows onwards towards a definite course; winding gently around obstacles or grinding them down with its powerful current; the river simply never stops until it reaches its destination; a channel, lake or sea.
As a writer, I too have garnered my determination and adaptability from a source larger than myself, with God being my greatest source and the underlying current that has kept me moving steadily forward. However there have been other sources given to me by God to help me along the way; diverging streams that have joined eventually with my own, adding their energy and life-giving strength to my own, teaching me, guiding me with a wisdom that can only come from their own experience of being authors and writers.
I think of my high school English teacher who determinedly dogged me in the hallways until I entered a writing contest which I eventually won. That one experience was the seed that stuck with me and eventually compelled me to further my interest in writing.
My opportunity to be a news reporter seemed to come out of the blue (twice) and fulfilled a wish that I had had years earlier to have that experience. It was also life-changing and very confidence building as I had so much exposure to many people from all walks of life. It also gave me a glimpse into the editing world and the understanding of making each word count.
A recent source of encouragement came from Canadian historical author Ted Barris  whose work shop I attended at the 2019 Festival of Words. He has many years of experience in the publishing world and so when he encouraged us over how much experience we actually do have if we’ve even been published once, it was something to take note of. I left feeling like someone who does indeed have the ability to get more of my work published.
There can be many other sources larger than ourselves that we come to rely on for a season; anyone who comes alongside us as writers and flows and bends with us through the curves of the river of life can be part of that underlying force that carries us on through those rough spots, teaching us how to persevere and either adapt and flow around a particular obstacle or grit our teeth and find a way through it. Eventually we will come out the other side, wiser, stronger, perhaps not as we had envisioned, but always moving forward, through the rocks and boulevards, steady, streaming, onwards towards our destination where we join with generations of others who love the written word, just like ourselves. From there, with God as our constant source, we can flow into other streams and rivers; joining and supporting them along their path as writers……like a river.
|Adapted from Like A River (an essay on motherhood by Gloria Lynn Guest – May 13 2014 – Gloria writes from her community of Caron, Sk.|
Labels: Gloria Guest