November 16, 2019

Celebrate Each Step Forward by Nina Faye Morey

“Breaking big dreams into small steps is the way to move forward.”
~ Sheryl Sandberg

I was in my early fifties when I seriously began my writing journey. Writing was a life-long dream, but doubts lingered. What if I don’t have what it takes? What if I’m not good enough?

As a teenager, I had some poems and stories published in the Western Producer’s “Young Cooperators Club.” But before long, I became preoccupied with other things and didn’t pursue my passion again until midlife. My first query letter went to the “Farmlife” editor of Grainews. To my astonishment, she called to encourage me to send in my story. I worked hard on it for several weeks and submitted it before the deadline. She accepted it for publication! Celebrate, celebrate, dance to the music!

Since then, I’ve progressed step by step in my writing, publishing articles, short stories, and poems in various publications. I’ve received writing awards and the Barnabas Fellowship from InScribe, published stories in two of their anthologies, presented workshops at their conferences, and served as the columns editor and editor-in-chief of their FellowScript magazine. Two novels and a collection of my published writing are current works in progress.

Thomas Carlyle said, “Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.” Each small step taken in my writing journey boosts my courage, and each successful step forward earns me the right to celebrate. So I give myself permission to do my little victory dance! It’s something I’d highly recommend. But if you have two left feet, here are a few other ways to celebrate success:

Celebrate your success with a commemoration. Commemorate your published work, positive reviews, and writing awards in some way. Frame that book cover or writing award and hang it on your wall; print out that admiring email from a fan and keep it in your journal; place that favourable review alongside your piece in your writing portfolio and post it on your website. These commemorations remind you of your successes and boost your confidence whenever you become discouraged or feel like a failure.

Celebrate your success with others. Share your success stories with family, friends, and the larger writing community. Call or email them, post announcements on your website, or share the news with your followers on social media or through newsletters. Don’t forget to thank those who’ve supported you along the way. Take them out for dinner or throw a celebration party.

Celebrate your success with someone else’s creation. Replenish your creative energy by enjoying someone else’s creation. Read a favourite author’s novel, watch a favourite movie, or gorge on a favourite bakery’s confection. Go ahead, don’t feel guilty. You’ve earned it!

Celebrate your success with a present to yourself. Gift yourself with anything your little heart desires, but you might want to consider something that provides physical benefits as ours is a sedentary profession. It doesn’t have to be expensive—a good pair of running shoes, a few free weights, an exercise band, or registering for a Zumba class. A special treat might be a visit to a spa or a massage for your aching back.

Celebrate your success with God. Remember to thank God for every blessing: a friend’s email that encouraged you not to quit when you were feeling discouraged, the devotional that lifted you up when you were feeling down, or the Bible verse that helped you speak to the hearts of both saints and sinners. No matter how small each day’s gift, keep a gratitude journal and write it down. This practice helps you maintain a positive attitude and demonstrates your faith and trust in God’s plan for your life.

Celebrating your success will refresh you mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually and provide fresh perspectives to help spur you on to even greater success.

November 15, 2019

CLR - by Tracy Krauss

Celebrating, Leading, Remembering. 
This month's prompt asked us to remember and celebrate how God has lead us. “You shall remember all the ways which Yahweh your God has led you.” (Deuteronomy 8:2) God spoke these words to the Israelites at the end of their 40 years in the wilderness.  Like the Israelites, at times it's felt like I've come through the wilderness during my writing journey. (I've also felt like I've had a good 'decalcifying', thus the nod to the cleaning product in my title!)
A toast to my first book in 2009!
When I look back at my thirty-five years of writing, there is much to celebrate. One of the sweetest moments was signing my first book deal back in 2008. After years of submitting and subsequent rejection, it felt like I had finally broken into the 'inner circle'. (I think I was a bit naive back then!) Since then, my writing skills have definitely improved and I've gained a lot of knowledge about the publishing business, but no matter how much I learn, I realize there is more that I need to learn! There have been occasions to celebrate since, but I think this 'first' one was the most memorable. 

Throughout my writing career, I have genuinely felt God's leading. I've written before about this sense of 'calling', especially when it comes to writing fiction. For some, fiction may seem unimportant or even expendable. Even those who like reading fiction may not like my stories and that's okay. I understand that different people have different preferences when it comes to reading material. My goal is to write the stories that I feel led to write, no matter how popular. The ultimate reward will be to hear my Lord say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Recently I've felt somewhat discouraged about not getting my current WIP ready for publication. I have had at least one book or play published each year since 2009. (Usually more than one, leading to a grand total of 21, not including anthologies or magazine articles.) Will 2019 be the first year in ten years that I don't have something published? Even after I had heart surgery and was often fatigued, I managed to finish and publish the book I was working on. 

Then I stop and remember... I remember how far I have come and how gracious God has been through this journey. I remember that it's not about me or a self imposed success barometer. It's about God's will, God's timing, and God's grace. Period. 

I try not to compare myself to others when it comes to my writing journey. It is my own unique story orchestrated by God and I am thankful as I remember and celebrate both the successes and the difficulties. In the end, I know God has been leading me all the way.

Tracy Krauss writes from her home in Tumbler Ridge, BC. She is privileged and humbled to be serving as InScribe's current president.

November 14, 2019

Celebrating God's Goodness and Writing - Ruth L. Snyder

Often when we think of "goodness," we equate it with things that are enjoyable. However, as good human parents, we know that often our children need instruction and consequences which are not enjoyable at the time. We choose to teach our children so that as they mature and grow, they will have the character they need to live productive lives. I believe our Heavenly Father, who is good and perfect, often allows and even places circumstances and events in our lives that are not enjoyable to crowd us to Him and transform us into His likeness. As I look back over my life, I see many times when God took my weakest moments and deepest hurts and transformed them into a powerful, life-changing story only I can share.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." (2 Corinthians 1: 3 & 4)
When I was nine, my parents travelled with my three siblings and me on a five-hundred mile train ride from Botswana to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to live at a mission hostel and attend school. There was no option for us to go to school where we lived in Botswana. Not only was I young, but I was also "Daddy's little girl." Suddenly I found myself without the security of having my earthly father available. Every week we were given paper and an envelope to write a letter to our parents. God used that time to help grow my faith and switch my dependence from my earthly father to my heavenly father. He also used the experience to grow my writing abilities, as I worked to transfer some of my weekly events into words that painted pictures for my parents.

Our family returned to North America in 1977. We were blessed to be able to spend many enjoyable years at Prairie Bible College, where my dad worked in the dean's department. By the time I was in high school, I looked forward to graduating with my friends and continuing on into Bible college. God had other plans. My dad's position was terminated and I felt like my whole world crumbled. Our family moved. I spent my grade 12 year in a small public school with people who had known each other their entire lives, and I was the only one in my class who was a Christian. Teachers challenged my worldview. God used this experience to teach me to rely on His power to live my faith. The best benefit? My sister and I were privileged to lead one of her classmates to the Lord.

I was able to return to Prairie for Bible college. I started a four-year program with $800 to my name and watched as God provided little by little, allowing me to graduate debt free. Working in the Prairie bookstore for a couple of years exposed me to the business side of writing and selling books. While I was there, Sigmund Brouwer had a book signing for his first book.

I moved back home with my parents while I went through candidate school with a mission. That process did not go smoothly and I found myself wondering what God had in mind for me. However, God gave me the enjoyable challenge of working at a law office. (When I went for the interview, the lawyer asked why I had applied since I had no legal training. I told him if he was willing to teach me, I was willing to learn.)

I wanted to be a wife and mother. During this time I met and married Kendall. However, a couple of years after we married, a fertility specialist informed us we would probably not have children without medical intervention. I grieved deeply. Then six months later, I found out I was pregnant. However, the pregnancy ended with a miscarriage. I was devastated and became depressed. Through this time, God taught me to celebrate the little gifts and blessings I receive every day—a gorgeous sunrise, time with a friend, clean air to breathe, freedom to go to church, a Bible in my language...time to volunteer in my community.

Eventually God opened the doors for us to adopt five beautiful children. They introduced us to the challenging world of special needs. God revived my desire to write. I took courses and entered contests, winning several. Our kids taught me to be a strong advocate. I shared their stories, honed my writing skills, became a school board trustee, and joined InScribe.

Recently our family moved to a new community, new schools, new church. Change can be daunting. However, God reminded me of all the opportunities He has opened for me since we moved.

  • Meeting almost weekly with a Christian accountability partner
  • Singing with a community choir
  • Participating in a worship team 2 Sundays a month
  • Attending an oil painting workshop with our elder daughter
  • Starting a local writing group with 2 other Christian writers
  • Starting a writing coaching business
  • Being interviewed on the Faithfully Led podcast
  • Presenting a writing workshop at HerStory conference in Edmonton in March
  • Going to serve at a Mexican orphanage for a week in April (one son is going too)

I'm grateful for God's love, and for the way He redeems pain in our lives. Have you thought about how He has done that for you?

November 13, 2019

Here’s Why You May Want to Dip Your Quill in Tears by Wendy L. Macdonald

I’m excited to share why you may want to dip your quill in tears. But first, I want to share a bit about how I discovered this poignant ink.

It’s not just my writing that has changed since I’ve become more intentional about spending regular time writing: I’ve changed. Ever since I began my recovery journey from eating disorders (over 36 year ago), I’ve regularly written in my private journals. This was instrumental in uncovering the reasons behind my disordered eating, and helping me identify triggers I needed to be wary of.
Writing makes writers more mindful of what’s going on in and around them. It helps them tap into strengths and notice when, where, and how they may need help.

One of the changes to my writing has been the increase in my level of vulnerability. Years ago, I realized how much I appreciated it when someone bravely shared her thoughts about things she feared; it made me feel less alone. I literally hugged her and thanked her for saying something I would have been too embarrassed to say aloud.

Now, I like to help others know they’re not the only ones who feel a certain way. I like to be brave with words. 

One way I discovered how to uncover vulnerable topics to write about is to dip my quill in tears—or in other words—tap in to tears. If something makes me tear up, I know there’s at least three hundred words available to squeeze out of each teardrop. I learnt more about myself and human nature when I did this. I learnt what the Holy Spirit was whispering for me to notice too.

It’s been the most rewarding writing I’ve ever done.

Tears are taps on the shoulder telling us to pay attention to what just transpired.

I’ve written about this before, because I never cease to be amazed at the volume of wisdom and knowledge condensed in each teardrop. Perhaps that’s why God collects them? Maybe we will be enlightened on the other side when He spills the vials so that we may know what we missed when we didn’t tap into them on this side of heaven?

I’m nosy-to-know if you ever dip your quill in tears?

Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

November 12, 2019

Guest Post by Lorilee Guenter

The journal lay open to a blank page waiting for ink to spill across it. Words stain the page and mark this moment, this day. Later, I will return to them as a reminder, a sign of where God was at work. Words on pages mark the journey as trail markers direct the hiker.
My journal holds years of quotes, verses, ramblings and ponderings. I scribbled ideas and prayers side by side. One day I wrote the words of Jeremiah 31:21 where the Israelites are instructed to "take not of the highway, the road that you take." Aha, my journal records the route God has led me on and the times I wandered from the path. I can return to it and see God's faithfulness even in my unfaithfulness.
I remained content to record my thoughts just for me. Then one by one I had encouragements to take my writing beyond my journal so others could see them. Listening to the prodding I let some words escape the boundaries I placed on them and share them. But I am not a writer, I argue on the page and to those who suggested it. Then I started sharing snippets of writing, not knowing where the path would lead. The encouragement and the arguments continued. But God did not leave me there. He does not leave anyone stuck who walks with Him and trusts Him to mark the way ahead of them.
My journal still catches quotes and verses, ramblings and ponderings. But now the journal is joined by stories, essays and poems that are shared. It is my hope as I record the words given to me that they will teach, encourage and challenge those who read them just as they do for me as I write them.
I can not see the road ahead. I still question my writing and argue in my journal. But I know God can see the path ahead and it is my job to be obedient to His prompting.
Lorilee Guenter is a long time journal keeper who is slowly releasing her writing into the world. Some of her encouragers say 'about time' even though she wants to say 'not yet'.