October 31, 2019

Beautiful Disruptions - guest post by Valerie Ronald

One day on a beach walk with a good friend, I told her about an e-mail I received that morning from a man I did not know. It seems I knew his brother and sister-in-law a long time ago. I gazed at the waves beating their way to shore, scuffed the sand with my shoe.

“He asked if it would be alright if we wrote to each other.” When I glanced at my friend, she was smiling. She said, “I have such a strong sense that from this day out, things for you will change for the better. God is up to something.”

My heart gave a hopeful little leap, then settled back to the cautious beat of one familiar with pain, disappointment and struggle. For several years all I had known was the war zone of a messy divorce and a life-threatening illness. Hope was hard to come by. Now in retrospect I recognize that moment on the beach as one of God’s beautiful disruptions. Sometime later I married the man who e-mailed me and moved on to a whole new life full of love, joy and fulfillment.

Webster’s dictionary defines disruption as "causing something to be unable to continue in the normal way: interrupting the usual progress or activity of something." A disruption is at first stressful because it throws things into disorder, putting us off the course we were used to. But God has a way of disrupting lives that opens up possibilities never imagined, even if at the time the disruption is unwelcome.

 The scriptures are full of beautifully disrupted stories where God suddenly steps in to redirect the current path of someone He wants to use to fulfill His purposes. In Exodus 3, Moses has spent many years tending his father-in-law’s flock on the far side of the desert. God captures Moses’ attention when He speaks from a burning bush. He sends Moses on a mission back to Egypt to free the Israelites from slavery. As a country herdsman spending countless days with only sheep for company, Moses’ life is beautifully disrupted when he becomes God’s chosen instrument to lead His people to freedom.

As a lowly shepherd boy on the hills around Bethlehem, David was unlikely to be chosen for any significant role. But God changed David’s life by sending His prophet, Samuel, to anoint him as the future king of Israel. God’s beautiful disruption caused David to become a mighty king, a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22 NIV) and a forefather of Jesus, the Messiah.

In the most glorious disruption of all, a Jewish peasant girl is visited by an angel announcing she is to give birth to the Son of God. “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34) Through the power of the Holy Spirit, she becomes the mother of Jesus, God in human flesh, whose life, death and resurrection provides salvation for all who believe in Him.

 To be honest, I would prefer God to lead me down new paths slowly and gently. But when I think of the mountaintops of my spiritual walk, it is the beautiful disruptions that stand out. Those times when God suddenly breaks into my mundane life speak of a love so great He would do the extraordinary to capture my attention. Such beautiful disruptions cause me to exclaim, only God.
Only God could orchestrate so many details to fulfill His purposes.
Only God interrupts by making me breathless with His beauty and majesty.
Only God beautifully disrupted time by stepping down from eternity to live among us.

Valerie Ronald is a lifetime writer living in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. She is a member of the Manitoba Christian Writers Association and blogs atwww.scriptordeus.wordpress.com

October 29, 2019

Part of the Team!

Become part of our blogging team!
Tracy Krauss here, your friendly IWO moderator! I've been part of the blogging team here at 'InScribe Writers Online' since about 2011. Reading your posts has become part of the fabric of my day. I look forward to hearing each unique voice. For example...

Sandi Somers starts us off right with thought provoking themes that are woven together with stories of personal experience and triumph - or hard lessons learned! She sets the bar HIGH each month and gets us off on the right foot. 

Marnie Pohlmann is a true wordsmith. Always eloquent, always rich and intricately written, her posts leave me pondering long after I've read them. And she often gives us some practical application, too.

I love the transparent and honest way that Alan Anderson writes! He shoots from the hip - or is it the heart? His posts are full of compassion and care and we know exactly where he stands on any given topic. 

Sharon Espeseth is plain inspiring. Her posts are deep, full of wisdom and truth - despite difficult circumstances. She makes herself vulnerable so that we can see God's grace working in her life. That's a beautiful thing. She is also a consistent encourager in that she is a frequent commenter and encourager to others. 

Wendy Macdonald's posts are full of joy and the celebration of life. I always find myself smiling when I read her posts because she finds beauty in the small things. 

And that's just a small sampling! We have so many talented and inspiring writers on our current roster and so many more that have graced us with their thoughts over the years. Just check the sidebar if you're in doubt! THANK YOU to everyone, past and present, for making this blog RICH soil for your words to grow!

But that's not all!

There is room here for YOU, dear InScribe member! We're looking for fresh blood - and returning favourites - to join our blogging team to make 2020 the best year ever!

Here are a few good reasons to join the blogging team:
1. Practice writing to a theme. 
2. Fosters accountability and consistency.
3. Heightens the ability to meet deadlines.
4. A non-threatening place to share.
5. Hone and sharpen writing skills.
6. A supportive community.
7. Great transition into publication.
8. Build social and online platform.

I'm sure there's more, but if you would like to blog, either on our regular roster or even as an occasional guest, email the moderator (that's me!) 

October 28, 2019

Nail Trims and Tree Pruning - Bruce Atchison

No matter how I petted and soothed my rabbit Deborah, she still hated having her claws clipped. As I held her back against my chest so she couldn't squirm and possibly break her back, a friend trimmed each nail. But my "frowny-faced" bunny still acted like I was being cruel to her. And once the task was done, she hopped into her cardboard box house and sulked for a few hours.

Just as God puts us through tests which strengthen our faith, so pet owners need to have veterinarian procedures done to their furry or feathered friends for their own good. To our pets, we seem to be tormenting them. Animals live in the moment so those few minutes of torture feel like betrayal of their trust.

Jesus likened the tests and discipline of the Lord to tree care in John 15:1-3. The Bible in Basic English (BBE) states it this way. "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He takes away every branch in me which has no fruit, and every branch which has fruit he makes clean, so that it may have more fruit. You are clean, even now, through the teaching which I have given you."

But what about when we are chastised by the Lord? Our heavenly Father always corrects us for our long-term benefit and his glory. Hebrews 12:5-7 (BBE) says, "And you have not kept in mind the word which says to you as to sons, 'My son, do not make little of the Lord's punishment, and do not give up hope when you are judged by him;' For the Lord sends punishment on his loved ones; everyone whom he takes as his son has experience of his rod. It is for your training that you undergo these things; God is acting to you as a father does to his sons; for what son does not have punishment from his father?"

There are occasions when we experience testing through the cruelty of our enemies. This too is to build up our trust in God. As James 1:2-4 (BBE) phrases it, "Let it be all joy to you, my brothers, when you undergo tests of every sort; Because you have the knowledge that the testing of your faith gives you the power of going on in hope; But let this power have its full effect, so that you may be made complete, needing nothing."

So even though things seem to be going sideways in our lives, it's because the Father is working to perfect us. He's not being mean, thoughtless, or uncaring when we face apparent setbacks. Instead of sulking or fuming, we must remind ourselves that the end of sanctifying us justifies the means of trials.

October 26, 2019

Connection - Marnie Pohlmann

The posts this month describing the 2019 Inscribe Fall Conference have been interesting. Many who attended seemed to enjoy the change in format, at first wary of this “Open Space” concept yet willing to participate. Most registrants came away enjoying the change, surprised at what they learned and how God worked despite not having workshop teachers. The worship times and devotionals were meaningful. Not that past years were not just as impacting; this year was simply… different.

I did not participate in the conversations as much as others at this year’s Conference. I stayed in my comfort zone, struggling to get the Stripe payment system working. I was also people-watching. What, exactly, was I seeing?

I watched people network with one another, whether in a group session or sitting with friends over coffee. We all had both writing and God in common, which added to the ease of communication, but there was something more. I saw people sharing freely, whether they had known each other for years or had just met. 

People mentioned being ministered to. What was it about Open Space that encouraged this? I have a theory.

I saw relationships growing. Individuals were sharing deeply. They were well past the what-do-you-write type of how’s-the-weather talk. Speakers were freely sharing. Listeners were caring and attentive. Attendees of all ages were learning from one another.

There is a deeper level of conversation that feeds our souls and frees us from remaining in the polite society level of relationship. God has been teaching me about this kind of communication, encouraging me to develop the skill of speaking with both friends and strangers to reach that deeper sharing more quickly.

This past Spring, I attended a women’s simulcast conference. The concept of asking questions that lead to more honest conversation was demonstrated during the two days. Women were equipped to share transparently, learning a simple way to speak to neighbours, coworkers, and each other to develop relationships and introduce God through caring communication.  Google “IF: Gathering” and you can discover what it’s all about. Perhaps there will be an IF: Local near you. There will be another in Fort St John this coming February.

Most of you probably already have this communication skill, whether unconsciously as part of your personality or consciously practicing relationship building. The idea is not new. As writers, we know about asking open-ended questions that cannot be answered with one word and provide more valuable information. As Christians, we understand the need for mentoring, discipling, and encouragement. But I am only now recognizing the difference that connecting in deeper conversation can make in a relationship.

Parents use this style with their children. Ask a child how school was that day and you will probably get “Fine.” Ask a child to describe what they enjoyed at school you may get a story about kindness, a good grade, or an interesting topic of study.

Jesus used this kind of communication with his disciples and the crowds. He asked questions. He used everyday life to introduce spiritual truth. He listened and watched and knew the heart of his disciples and of strangers in the crowds. Jesus quickly reached an intimate relationship with all he spoke with. God in us only makes a difference to others when we are in an actual relationship; more than a wave-on-garbage-day relationship but one where listening and caring and sharing is purposed.

From Old Testament times, our relationships were meant to have a purpose - to experience and share God in our everyday life. Deuteronomy 6:4-10 describes this communication to the nation of Israel.

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
(New Living Translation – italics added.)

We can use this form of communication at church, work, or across the fences in your neighbourhood. Rather than asking how their week was, which will usually get the “Fine” or “Good” answer, take the risk to begin a conversation on more than a surface level. Know, however, that this kind of conversation is never one-sided. You, too, must be prepared to share your heart.

Taking an honest interest in others may be easier when we have writing and God in common, like at Conference, but our calling is to communicate with both printed and oral words in a transparent way that allows God to shine through.

Some topics or questions to start a connection.
The best moment of the past week.
A relationship you struggled with this week.
What you are using for your daily devotions right now.
The number of words you think you wrote this week.
How you feel about (insert current news story.)
Who you are looking forward to getting together with next week (or over Christmas.)
Where you have been in the past year that you would recommend someone visit.
When/how you met your spouse or God.
Why you chose your profession. What led you to live in this neighbourhood.
Who the person in your genealogy is whose story is most interesting.
Who you admire that you would like to know more about.

October 24, 2019

Inspired - Shirley S. Tye

I’ve never had the opportunity to attend any of the InScribe conferences because of travel costs from northern Ontario.  But I read the wonderful comments by members and was sorry I missed them.   

When I lived in central Ontario, the Kawartha Lakes area (north and west of Peterborough taking in communities such as Lindsay, Little Britain, Fenelon Falls, Bobcaygeon, and other small towns and villages) I was a member of the Writers’ Circle of Durham Region (east of Toronto; Pickering, Ajax, Whitby, Oshawa, Townships of Scugog and Brock, to name some of the communities in that region).  It was an hour’s drive from my home to the monthly networking meetings in Oshawa but well worth the trip.  I was never disappointed. Breakfast was delicious, the speakers fascinating, the news exciting, and the networking wonderful.  After each meeting, I drove home excited and inspired to keep writing and dreaming.  WCDR’s first meeting in 1995 attracted sixty-five people and today its membership total is over three hundred.  

The writers’ festivals organized by WCDR were excellent.  Well-known writers, broadcasters, journalists, and actors were invited as guest speakers.  I had the pleasure of meeting and taking photographs of Pierre Berton, Ted Barris of CBC, Dave Broadfoot (who appeared on Air Farce many times), Ben Wicks, Lynn-Philip Hodgson author of Inside Camp X, and actor/writer Neil Crone.  Hearing their stories inspired and encouraged me.

The workshops lead by many of the WCDR members were interesting and helpful to me.  Some of the workshops which I attended were freelance writing, travel writing, fiction, and poetry.  Workshops by other groups and writers from outside the Durham region were promoted by WCDR; book publishing by a publishing house, Brian Henry’s writing for children workshop, editing workshops, and freelance writing workshops.

I’m thankful to have been a member of that group and to have met many successful writers.  There was much that I learned and have kept notes which I refer to when necessary.  It’s wonderful to hear about writers’ creative work journeys; their ideas, struggles, and successes.  Oh, how I was inspired!  

October 22, 2019

Being Together by Alan Anderson

“I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”—John 17:23

I attended my first InScribe annual conference this Sept. From start to finish, I enjoyed this time to interact with our InScribe family of storytellers. Allow me to expand on my experience at our conference.

Are We There Yet?

My wife, Terry, accompanied me to our conference. She has a brother living in Edmonton and spent time with him after the conference. Our directions noted it was twenty-four minutes' drive to the Providence Center. Terry drove, and I navigated. My directional challenged way took over. I can confuse any technological direction gizmo.

We were enjoying the scenic route I steered us on. Inside my mind, I asked myself the question, “Are We There Yet?” During this trip around our unfamiliar surroundings, I endeavoured to make sense out of the direction thingy on my wife’s phone. Oh boy, I determined I had no clue where we were. Terry caught on to this with the speed of light. 

After cool heads prevailed, we turned the car around and thanks be to God we soon drove into the driveway of Providence Center. With my navigational skills, we could condense the twenty-four-minute drive into one hour and five minutes. Terry looked frazzled but she recovered well.

We checked into our room at Providence then headed downstairs. We came to the gym-sized room and a few people were inside. I introduced Terry and myself to the first person we saw. A few seconds after, Tracy, our esteemed President of InScribe, also introduced herself with a hug. I knew at this point I reached one of my bucket list items, attending an InScribe Writers’ Conference.

Conference Musings

As I began to understand more of the open space format, I enjoyed the whole thing. After attending conferences of different types over the years the “open space” format is a welcome change. I like a format where attenders may interact if they choose. I also had the privilege of facilitating a session on writing as healing. 

As I reflect on the conference, my chats with Sally Meadows are a highlight for me. Sally and I have corresponded with each other for a few years. My time with Sally, sealed my belief, meeting people is a primary component of a conference. I also anticipate an ongoing relationship with Caran and Diane, two storytellers who live across the river from me. 

The times of worship first thing each day helped ground me for the day. I enjoyed the one-to-one interaction with fellow InScribers just as much. Each person I sat with allowed me into their journey as storytellers. I learned a lot as I sat and listened to their stories.

God made us unique and our uniqueness shows in our stories. These writers ministered to me and helped me clarify my voice as a storyteller. This helps me minister to other people.

I’m thankful beyond measure to our executive team for the work they did to put the conference together. We gathered as writers out of our love of God, being storytellers, and to be with each other. Through our conference, we enjoy unity with other Christians. God loves this.


October 21, 2019

Come to the Well .... It's filling in North Africa ... by Jocelyn Faire

See, I am doing a new thing! ...I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19
Mural Kristen has painted in her sitting room
My heart overflows with thanksgiving, while my congested head tries to process recent travels. I can thank my 7 year grandson Isaiah for being too huggable and generous in sharing his cold. Two days ago my husband and I returned from visiting my daughter Kristen in North Africa. We went to celebrate her birthday, the first time in ten years we've been together on the day. With her husband and three growing children, she has spent the majority of her adult years in ministry to Muslims in North and West Africa. She describes their location as the place where the Sahara desert meets the
Camel trek in the desert
sea, a harsh environment, physically and spiritually in need of rain. Over the past seven years while on furlough they have reported in churches with a sense of discouragement over the seeming lack of fruit. Countless hours have been logged learning Arabic, immersing in the culture, sewing on-going seeds of grace, light and love. Many heartfelt connections have been made, great conversations have happened; but she confessed to disappointment in not having a spiritual breakthrough for the people they have grown to love. Two years ago while visiting an inland desert region, we were told that rain had not fallen for three years. I wondered how people could survive this hot dry climate. Many believers prayers have been lifted for this small region they live in. This year while visiting, we witnessed three days of record rains; flooding the streets, making roads impassable, and crumbling poorly constructed homes. The rains have begun, and it seems the kingdom seeds planted are also beginning to sprout. 
Flooding on the walk home from the local school.
                          During this year's visit I joined my daughter and a team mate for a first time ever women's seeker group. I met “Rachel” who has been gobbling up the weekly lessons, keen to learn everything she can. Rachel speaks some English and we had a conversation before the video began. She told me that her and I first met last November at my granddaughter's 12thbirthday party where Kristen shared how God had given her this daughter, and a few other things that I could not understand as she testified in Arabic. Rachel understood ... and she told me these words spoken so moved her she wanted to know more about this Jesus. And so began an amazing journey of seeking Jesus. Tears welled in my eyes as Rachel told me how she had been in her kitchen one day, and felt a presence with her, she could feel God brushing up against her. She has made a commitment to Jesus, and is growing in her faith. Rachel's mother has seen changes in her daughter and had her own vision of Jesus. She has wondered why the people of the Messiah are there in times of trouble—“Where are the followers of Mohammed?” she asked. Over the years I've had many tears as I witnessed again and again the compassion, love and grace shining into the neighbourhood through Kristen and the co-workers. And this year it seems the rain has come. The spirit is on the move. 

Kristen's house helper has told my daughter that she gave permission for Kristen to share stories of Jesus with her children. This is highly unusual. The neighbour boy has told my ten year old grandson that he sees Satan everywhere. My daughter wanted to have an opportunity to let the mother(FF) know what the son had said. The conversation that happened opened up new doors, as the mother shared that her family had been given the blessing/the curse to see into the spirit world. And when her sister visited, she saw angels over top my daughter's house. (Oh and this mother in Canada continues to pray that those angels provide spiritual protection for my daughter's family) As the conversation continued, the neighbour FF broke into tears, collapsed into my daughters arms. As Kristen prayed over her in Arabic .... there were more tears, and a long stillness after which FF lifted her head and asked, “Is there any hope?”

This is the God of Hope we serve, and my hope and prayer is for more opening up of hearts and minds toward the God of love, and his son.
Mother and Daughter
It has not been easy to have my only daughter on the planet live so far away, but it is times like this that I am truly grateful for the Kingdom work they are doing.
Kristen ended her recent supporter email with the words “This is our God, He will not stop pursuing, therefore we must not stop praying.”

And I do feel the call of God in different directions for myself, for my writing or lack thereof, and realize that for the time being, this will be my last regular post for Inscribe.
I am grateful to God for the opportunity to have been a part of this writing group, for the people I have met, and the encouragement received. May each of you receive the nourishing rain to support your writing. Blessings to all. 

October 20, 2019

Create with Confidence – Denise M. Ford

As writers we have an affinity with words that naturally leads us to opportunities to delve into ways that will expand our minds.  We live to unleash our words to our unseen audiences.  We read and shelve books into our storehouse of knowledge so that we can refine our writing craft. We seek out courses and conferences to engage with fellow writers.  We struggle to comprehend how to use the newest technology available to us.

Thank goodness we have the humility and the awareness to understand that we can learn from someone else’s skill or experience!

But where oh where and when oh when do we learn to create with confidence?

If anything, we as writers sometimes feel stripped down and torn apart by our lack of confidence.  We as Christian writers remind ourselves that we need to humbly appreciate a talent that may lead us astray.  We don’t want to get lost in avenues of pride and chasms of vanity.  As writers we can become immersed within our own viewpoints of interpretation. We easily fall into judgemental quips or objective summaries.

Confidence, where does it begin and how do we let it guide us?

This past week I found it in the pool.  My usual process for searching for the ideas for this writing blog follows a pattern: praying for a phrase, listening for repeated whispers, and then letting the phrase move out on its own. As it hovers in my mind, I find a way to expand and explore its meaning.

This week I let it swim around with me.  I have always enjoyed swimming from an early age. Now in my not so early age I have turned to deep-water running as a way to exercise and gain energy.  I used to participate in classes but now I appreciate the softer sounds of the early morning pool music. Instructors tend to shout above the beats of their favourite motivating music.  I prefer to move through my own routine so I can pray or listen for words to surprise me!

The fact is, I am short.  In the pool I can only touch bottom in five feet or under, making a deep-water workout easily achievable.  I can cross country ski or bicycle in the water on the edges of most areas of the pool.  Usually I don’t venture into an area that would leave me treading to survive, because I do not use a buoyancy belt.

Years ago, at my first deep-water running class, I had to learn how to adjust a waist belt to act like a lifesaver while I floundered in the depths of the deep water.  I even bought my own belt, so I didn’t have to struggle with a different belt each time I went to class.  Soon I learned the various techniques and methods to activate the muscle groups of my body to stay afloat in the routines.  Being comfortable in water, I stopped using the belt and found I could gain a more challenging workout without it.  I had the necessary confidence to adapt the movements to suit my individual workout. 

I rely on my swimming movements to keep me above the water.  I can confidently do that because I know how to swim.  I can float, I can push myself above the surface of any water, my confidence does not waver.

However, when the pool’s automatic waves begin and I am jostled about in currents that pull me away from my safe areas, my confidence temporarily slackens.  I do not know when I will lose my sufficiency to stay completely afloat.

Writing ebbs and flows like that for me.  One day I trust wholeheartedly in this creative skill, the next I am floundering about wondering if I should bother to release the ideas that come to mind.  I question whether or not I have the time or the basic foundation to pursue writing.

I need to respond with confidence. 

And here’s the phrase that surfaces:
Confidence buoys us up to create! 

I need to let the words flow as smoothly as the water moving around and below me.  I need to reach out with confidence and claim them as the ideas that need to be rescued and resolved in a piece of writing.

Fellow writers, we yearn to create.  We dive into the deep water of meaning and we hopefully surface with surprising new ideas.  Tools and devices, we have learned from courses, workshops, or books; may or may not stay with us as we strive to schedule our writing routines into our lives.

I hope that as we write we accept a valuable, perhaps new and precious piece of equipment.

Confidence. May confidence buoy us up to create!

Writers, let us continually challenge ourselves.  As we seek to do God’s will through our writing, may we trust in the ways we make various techniques and methods into our own personal writing styles.  May we not waver in the waves of criticism or the currents of distractions. May we place ourselves within the time slots required to make this response as a writer.  May we take pen in hand and write and write and write.  And may confidence, refreshing and invigorating, pour over us. 

May confidence buoy us up to create!

As I highlight the word, confidence, my Biblical index directs me to Psalm 71.
I realize I have always loved the imagery in verse 3.
“Be to me a protecting rock of safety, where I am always welcome.  Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.”
I can certainly identify with this older Psalm writer who praises God for His faithful presence by tracing the blessings that have occurred throughout a long life. Verse 5 echoes in my writer’s heart and underscores the meaning of the phrase that came to me this past week:
“For you give me confidence, O Lord; O Lord, I have trusted in you since I was young.”