May 28, 2020

Tuning the Cracks - Bruce Atchison

Remember The Monkees? I remember when Micky, Mike, and Peter showed up at a man's house. When he asked why three men came to tune his piano, Micky gave him this answer. "He tunes the white keys, he tunes the black keys, and I tune the cracks."

Do you ever get the feeling that you're typing the cracks? These "cracks" seem to get us when we're writing drafts. That's why we need to edit and edit until we're thoroughly tired of our work.

I find these "cracks" between chores are the best time to edit. Our minds aren't focused on the topic as much as finding goofs. Therefor it's easier to spot mistakes.

Beta readers are also a big help. I once assisted a woman in correcting a huge boo-boo in her book by listening to my computer read it aloud. She wrote "a women" instead of "a woman." Her spell checker missed the mistake but I heard it loud and clear. Like a wrong note in a tune, it sounded jarring to me.

One book which never needs editing is the Bible. Other so-called holy books are riddled with mistakes but not the Holy Scriptures.

I don't know if all those whom God used to write the scriptures were writing between work and other obligations. Even so, divine books in the Bible were compiled under the guidance of the Spirit.

Even the writers knew that they were writing sacred words from the Lord. Check out what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:15 and 16 (Bible in Basic English). "And be certain that the long waiting of the Lord is for salvation; even as our brother Paul has said in his letters to you, from the wisdom which was given to him; And as he said in all his letters, which had to do with these things; in which are some hard sayings, so that, like the WREST of the holy Writings, they are twisted by those who are uncertain and without knowledge, to the destruction of their souls."

I capitalized the word "rest" because it shows that these men knew they were writing under the power of the holy Spirit. Therefore we can be assured that quoting those writings needs no correction.

Though we have no such scripture-writing privilege, we do write for our Master. We edify others and call the sinners to repentance. May our Lord use the work of our hands to free many from Satan's grip.

May 27, 2020

Challenging Excuses by Lorilee Guenter

I have plenty of time, an overabundance in some seasons. In a society that seems to value busyness it is awkward to claim to have too much time. Unfortunately a surplus of time leads me to procrastinate. There is no hurry, no pressure. Where does time go? It gets spent in bits and bobs, small purchases that, when added together, consume the days.

Two months of a forcibly cleared schedule could be seen as a gift, a time to reconnect with the important, a time to finish what has been neglected. But, for me, two months of no routine leads to just as many problems as a packed full schedule. My workspace shrank as projects spread out to fill the space. How do you write or paint with no where to put the paper? Too many hints of ideas but none insistent. Images blurred, unclear, refusing to come into focus. The opportunity for observation limited to the same space each day. Unchanging, or is it? The yard wakes from its winter slumber.

My excuses are many, whether it is a full schedule or an empty one, a full desk or an empty space. It is not hard to find an excuse to leave the pen sit and wait for a different time, a better time. Even as I write these words, the excuses rise. However, a looming deadline pushes some of the procrastination aside.

How do I get past the excuses? How do I find the time, the energy, the [fill in the blank] to start again? With difficulty. With intention. With small habits built one on one. With doubt and fear and stumbling about. Then a phrase plays in my mind and won't be dismissed. Words return slowly, quietly waiting for me to respond.

Give me space
a time and place
so the words spill
and ideas fill
the emptiness

But don't you see
I gave you me
I'm all you need
I gave you life

Will I listen?

May 26, 2020

The Broken Dish - Marnie Pohlmann



SETTING:
The kitchen.  By the sink dirty dishes are piled.
            
ENTER FROM STAGE LEFT:
Mary, a frazzled looking housewife and mom wearing a stained apron and slippers. She runs water, adds "SonLight Suds" and begins to wash the dishes.

Mary’s monologue:    
Lord, it is not fair! 

They all live here, too.  It's not like I sit around all day just waiting to clean up after them.  I took those courses at the college and work every afternoon at the daycare to help with the finances.   I carpool Jimmy and his friends to hockey practice.  And I'm the secretary of the PTA.  I'm even a Pioneer Club leader.  And I try to bake and sew.  I even help Joe untangle his fishing tackle so he can get away and relax.  But what about me? Probably when I'm old and decrepit I'll still be the slave.

I don't feel like anything I do matters, Lord.  It all just gets undone again. 
I make the beds so they can be slept in.
I wash and mend the clothes so they can be worn - and worn out. 
I vacuum the carpet so everyone can track in new dirt.
I cook meals so five minutes later they can complain about being hungry.
And I wash dishes so they can be dirtied again. 
Oh, Lord, do I HAVE to do dishes?

Well, ok.  If I hurry I might have time to read the Bible and You’ll make me feel better.

Oh, look, God.  This old plate again.  It's always SO dirty, but it has always been one of my favourites.  At least it is getting easier to clean.  It isn't as stained as it used to be.  Must have something to do with that new soap I'm using - SONLIGHT SUDS.  And look, you can hardly see where it had broken, and we glued it back together.  I'll let it soak while I do the other dishes.

God, that old plate is kind of like me, isn't it?  I used to be a real mess - I guess sometimes I still am.

I was shattered and stained with anger and pain.  But You glued me back together.  I was such a wreck. I sure did not act or look very lovable.  But You loved me anyway.

You wash me with the blood of your own Son, Jesus Christ.  You bring out a shine in me that I didn't know was possible.  When I look at my life now, I see the reflection of Your protection and love. You've washed away the stain of anger.  The pain is still there, sometimes.  But it sure fades fast when I look to You for comfort.  Because You understand.

Lord, You know that I really do love my family.  And I know that they really do love me.  Help me remember that no matter what I'm doing, if I do it WITH You, and to glorify You, it doesn't matter WHAT it is I am doing.  Even if it's the dishes.

Here's that plate, Lord.  Doesn't it look beautiful?  It's amazing the change a little time in SONLIGHT makes in dishes - and in me. God, you are so GOOD to me!  My heart and my attitude are much softer, now - not to mention my hands!

I’ll leave those clean dishes there to dry. You take care of that, too. Thanks for helping with the dishes.  We’ll do it again tomorrow.

MARY EXITS STAGE LEFT.


There is a certain beauty in broken pieces. Sometimes they can be glued together to make the original useful again, and sometimes they are matched with other broken pieces to create stained glass beauty.

As we try to write in our cracks of time between the rest of life, God is at work creating in us the clean heart He desires that we give to Him. This is not always done with a pen in our hands. He writes His love in us even while we do the dishes.

Truly, if it were not for the cracks in my life, I would probably have nothing to write about in those small cracks of time! 

Sometimes those cracks of time when I should or could be writing, seem like deep dark chasms of time, not just stolen moments. And I am not well-disciplined at being productive in even those longer times. In hindsight, I realize I can be writing so much more. 
In time, in God’s time, He will mend those huge cracks in my life so they are beautiful - picture the Grand Canyon! 

As we spend time in the sunlight this summer - and in the Son’s light - may we each find cracks of time to write and to see God’s beauty mending our own unique brokenness.

Photos courtesy of CCO license, Pixabay.com


Marnie Pohlmann is grateful for both cracks of time and cracks in her life - one provides an opportunity to write, and the other provides topics to write about. There is beauty in the cracks when God's light shines through.
Phosphorescent



May 25, 2020

Cracks of Time by Sharon Heagy



500+ Hourglass Pictures [HD] | Download Free Images on Unsplash
Imagine, if you will, waking up after a restful night of sleep. Yawn. Stretch. Scratch. Gracefully you exit the bedroom and greet the day – hugs to the family, shuck the cat under the chin and ruffle the fur on the head of the dog. Your nose searches out the wondrous aroma of morning coffee and you pour the black liquid gold into your favourite cup and take a big satisfying whiff of the elixir in your hand.  Ahhhhh.  Quietly and efficiently your family exits the house with hugs, ‘have a good day’ and pecks on the cheek.  Languidly you stroll to your writer’s nook, flip on a little background music and settle into your chair to work uninterrupted for the next number of hours on your latest and greatest creation.  Ah, yes, the writing life.

Wh-what? Wake up! Wake up, I say! It is a dream, not reality. Ok, maybe it is reality for some writers out there but none that I have encountered thus far.  Their experience is more like – ‘I have half an hour, quick write’ – ‘Oh, that’s a good idea. I’d better write that down.’ – ‘Where is that scrap of paper I used to write down that good idea?’- ‘I’m on a bus, train or plane, in the mall, the Dr’s office, the restaurant, scribbling furiously in my notebook or frantically typing on a tablet or printing on my napkin which I clutch to my chest as the server clears the table.’ This is the flipside to that perfect writer’s life.

Many of us write in the cracks of time – sometimes seconds, sometimes minutes and sometimes, praise God, for a few blissful hours.  But the cracks can be productive if we use them wisely.

The clearing of grey skies begins with a crack in the clouds exposing a small patch of brilliant blue. The fracture increases in size until only azure is visible in the expanse above.  A farmer’s field begins with cracks in the seeds planted below the surface. Sprouts spring up and push through cracks they themselves create in the soil and eventually a carpet of green plants covers the field.

Take heart, dear writer.  Writing in the cracks produces a plethora of stories, poems and articles.  So, write, write, write! The writer’s cry should not be I only have 5 minutes but I actually have 5 minutes. I can write, I can edit, I can envelope myself in what God has called me to do for a fabulous five.

God loves cracks, of this I am convinced. He must. The people he used throughout scripture are cracked and flawed. Consider the mighty men and women used by God – they all had cracks.  In fact, I think it might be a pre-requisite. Didn’t Paul say, “I delight in my weaknesses…for when I am weak then I am strong”? (2Corinthians 12:10) When we recognize our cracks and show them to our Father, he pours his Holy Spirit into every nook and cranny, filling us to bursting so that new creative cracks appear. He then flows right through us and splashes words on a page to touch the hearts of others.

God is on our side and works for our good and he has indeed called us to this craft for His good pleasure.



Romans 8:28 – “ and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”



Fearless writer be encouraged and be of good cheer. Use these portals of production whenever they occur.  Seize them and turn them into treasures of time. Open your cracks to Him and let His goodness and creativity flow through you.

May 24, 2020

Golden Scars by Valerie Ronald




The centuries-old Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold is a perfect visual of creating beauty from brokenness. Kintsugi, meaning “golden joinery”, rather than rejoining ceramic pieces with camouflaged adhesive, uses a tree sap lacquer dusted with powdered gold. The conspicuous cracks become beautiful golden seams, emphasizing the breaks instead of disguising them. The Kintsugi method often makes the piece more exquisite and valuable than before it was broken.

I have no doubt that the gold dust of God’s love and mercy has mended my brokenness in beautiful ways, creating a vessel “as it seemed good to the potter to make.” If it weren’t for being shattered, I could not experience the deep healing and redemption only my Savior can offer. Not only does He heal but He does so in such a way that the mended broken places are made stronger and more useful. These golden cracks inspire much of my writing as I seek to use what God has taught me, to speak healing into the cracked lives of others.

A large part of my past life was spent doing damage control for myself and my children as we suffered at the hands of a sociopath. Clinging to my faith in God was the only way I could glimpse some semblance of hope, even while we were repeatedly manipulated, emotionally bullied and lied to by a man with no conscience. When I go back and read my journals from that time, I see a heart cracked and bleeding on the page, trying to process how to survive, calling out to God with the psalmist, “How long, Lord? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” (Ps. 13:1-2 NIV)



Amid the rampant breakage, I found writing gave me some solace and clarity. Reaching out to God, searching for help in His Word and writing my thoughts down, helped me pick up and carry the broken pieces, even if only for that day. I carried the pieces to Jesus, who saw intrinsic value in a pile of broken clay. He saved those pieces, and with care and love eventually recycled them into a useful vessel traced with scars of gold.

All this is to cast a light of discovery on my writing process. I am not a scheduled, planned-out, organized writer, although I do make writing a priority as it is essential to my well being. I am rather an organic writer because my craft has the characteristics of an organism, developing in the manner of a living plant or animal. The Holy Spirit is the gardener of new ideas, sought for in prayer. He never fails to plant a seed and illumine it in the creative part of my brain so I won’t miss it. Sometimes germination is slow, requiring time and nurture. This is where most of my work is done, in the “cracks” of my mind, emotions, and spirit. I may appear to be dormant but the organic process is working beneath a quiet surface. When the fruit is finally ripe, I sit down at my computer to flesh it out in words, mindful of the Spirit of God standing at my shoulder, guiding each stroke of the keys.

Pottery does not break in a clean pattern. The shattered pieces are irregular in size and shape, yet when they are mended they make a cohesive whole, a singular vessel. So it is when we break, because what causes the break is a blend of afflictions unique to each of us. When God works His “golden joinery” to put us back together, He already has in mind the way He will use us to bring glory to Himself. He knows my “off-the-grid” way of thinking and creating, and gives me freedom to write accordingly. If I were to be a more regimented writer I doubt my creativity would flow as freely or be as useful in coming alongside other broken pots to offer them encouragement and hope. The restoration of God in a broken life does not attempt to disguise the damage. His point is to render the fault-lines beautiful and strong, creating maps of gold for others to find their way. 




Valerie Ronald lives in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. She is a graduate of Vancouver's Langara College journalism program, and has worked as a newspaper reporter, freelance writer, public speaker and bookstore employee. Valerie finds being a member of the Manitoba Christian Writers Association has honed her writing skill and confidence. She writes devotionals for her home church bulletins and her online blog. Her current book project chronicles how God's faithfulness saw her through the dark valleys of divorce and cancer. Along with her husband, Valerie enjoys spending time with their blended family and six grandchildren. She is a nature photographer, water colorist, cat lover and Scrabble addict.

More of her devotionals can be read on her blog   https://scriptordeus.wordpress.com

May 23, 2020

Snatching the Snippets by Joylene M Bailey

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay 


Some experts say if you’re not writing, then you’re not writing. Meaning, I suppose, that if you’re not “bum in the saddle”, sitting-down-at-your-keyboard writing, then you can’t claim to be writing. Because nothing is getting down on the page.

Please excuse me as I disagree.

The cracks of time most beneficial to my writing are those moments when scenes are seared into my memory – a snapshot of everyday life unobserved by everyone but me.




The slant of the morning sun as it caresses the apple blossoms, how the barista’s head tips just so, the three-year-old in the bank who starts crying when his dad folds a crisp ten-dollar bill. “You bent it!”

These enchanting pictures get captured in a notebook or scribbled on serviettes and scraps of paper. And if nothing like that is handy, they are safely settled in my memory in a file marked “For Use Later”.

Writing not only happens at the keyboard.

Even Agatha Christie was known to mumble through possible dialogues for her stories as she walked the lanes of her village, ignoring the reality around her while she worked out her characters in her mind’s eye.

My own sit-down-at-the-keyboard writing requires great gorges and gulches of made-time, not found-time. This is where the snatched snippets I've collected in all those cracks trickle - or pour - onto the page, to enhance and illuminate bigger projects.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

Sometimes, making chasms and crevasses of time is difficult. But the cracks are full of possibility and fun. It's just a matter of snatching the snippets.



~~~~~



One of Joy's favourite parts of writing might be those cracks of time. The ones where she observes captivating moments around her that eventually make it into her writing. 

During this season, most of her writing projects have been put on hold as she contributes to Creating Community in Isolation with her Tea Time blog posts at Scraps of Joy.



May 22, 2020

Writing in the Cracks of Life by Alan Anderson.




“What I see around me would drive me insane if I did not know that no matter what happens, God will have the last word.” --Elder Paisios of the Holy Mountain


My words weep on to the page as I begin this sensitive and frank blog post for May. Permit me to sound off and respectfully stray from the writing prompt. This present time has revealed cracks going far beyond my writing.


Since the COVID19 virus gained worldwide prominence in March 2020 startling societal cracks are being revealed. The virus shows an enemy can bring attention to “cracks” ever present and tolerated.


As a writer, my voice seeks to be real without being offensive or politically correct. Please forgive me if readers may disagree with what is written in this post. In humbleness, I ask you to read the post to the end.


I make it a point to not write about Covid-19 neither comment about what other people write about it. I do not give Covid-19 my time neither is it allowed to steer my life. The virus receives a lot of national and international attention. So much has been said one now has to discern truth from error.


Since the rise of Covid-19 the world slowed down. The world slowed down, however, because of the wisdom of people and the will to survive. At first even our mighty world leaders stumbled at the attack of this virus. This inflicted an unfamiliar pressure on our leaders. They almost fell under the spell of this rampant illness.


Please allow me to suggest to readers a rather perverse twist in the projection of Covid-19. The illness has exposed glaring cracks in Canada. Canada finds itself wanting and broken in this light. In my estimation Canada closes its eyes to its own brand of barbarism. How Canada treats our unborn children and other marginalized people shows this. When the virus subsides the cracks will still be here.

As a writer who is also a Christian I can bring hope despite the cracks. You see there is always hope even amid horror. Covid-19 causes the world, including Canada, to grieve. Even nature holds its head down and weeps. This grief, however, is a sign of compassion and collective sorrow, not defeat. Compassion and hope are not part of an illness like Covid.


Times of crisis and hardship cause kind people to shine and continue to do so. Those with compassionate hearts will continue to love. Those who by nature are helpers will continue to help today and in the days ahead. They give hugs to the world through their compassion and love.


My writer and reader friends, the COVID-19 wave of misery has not taken God by surprise. God loves the world and is present this suffering. We have an amazing and unique opportunity to point the world to real hope.



After the virus leaves how will we help heal wounded people it left in its wake? How might we help even now? We can help heal the rotten cracks in our society that have become, “normal,” today. We can fill them with the hope, love, and the peace of God. We can pray and pray again. Anything less only supports the rotten cracks, all too common in our country and world today.


As writers we can cry for our country and for the world. We may cry together and for each other. We know as Christian writers and readers, God will have the last word. May God help us be a healing balm to the world we love as He does.



https://scarredjoy.ca/


 

May 21, 2020

No More Excuses - Tracy Krauss

It seems that all writers - whether new, seasoned, professional or "hobbyist" - are faced with the same dilemma. Finding time to write!

I recently read a book by Joanna Penn called Productivity for Authors in which she talks at length about this very topic. (I plan to write and post a review on the book here in the near future.) It comes down to one very basic, and rather blunt, principle: if it's important enough you will make the time. 

I dreamed about the day when I would quit teaching and be able to write full time. Oh, the books I would churn out! Although I am technically only semi-retired since I work as a teacher consultant from home, I do have much more freedom in my schedule these days and more time each day, too. Strangely, it hasn't translated into more books... 

When I first started writing, I squeezed it in during my baby daughter's nap time each day. How I looked forward to those precious, uninterrupted few hours! Later, when I had four children, homeschooled, and there were no naps, I instituted a quiet time most afternoons where they had to entertain themselves by working on hobbies, reading, or playing. Sometimes it worked and I got some writing done!

When I went back to teaching full time this all had to change. Suddenly, cracks of time were filled with household tasks or church related duties since my husband had gone into full time ministry by then. I found myself waiting for larger chunks of time - spring break, summer holidays and the odd long weekend.


Once my children had grown, I could again squeeze some daily writing time into evenings and weekends. When I look back at the decade from 2008 to 2018, I am amazed at the amount I accomplished while still working full time. I signed my first book deal in 2008 and was thrown into the fire of learning to market, never mind write! But somehow I managed to get quite a large catalogue of books and plays published. 

These days I am very grateful for a more relaxed schedule. Health issues have had me sidelined for some periods these last few years, but most of the time I am very intentional about writing every day. I understand more and more the importance of just showing up to do the work, even if it's only a few words. Over time, these words add up. 

I have also come to firmly believe the advice of so many authors like Joanna Penn, Stephen King, Murray Pura and others. Don't wait for the muse. Show up to do the work and the muse will follow.   

We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day. I realize that life goes through seasons and sometimes we will have more time for writing than at other times. However, no matter the season or situation, choosing to write is really the only effective way of 'finding time' to write. I don't think there will ever be an ideal circumstance, for we humans tend to make excuses. (I know I do!) 

Whether it's cracks or canyons, fill it with writing if that is truly what you want to do, but stop making excuses about not having the time. Too blunt? Sorry. Sometimes the truth hurts!


Tracy Krauss writes - and does other stuff, too! - from her home in Tumbler Ridge, BC. She is currently serving as InScribe's President. To view her catalogue of books and plays, visit her website: https://tracykrauss.com  -fiction on the edge without crossing the line- 

May 20, 2020

Down by the Crick – Denise M. Ford

Often writing beckons to me, “Come let’s go on an adventure, let’s explore!” Other times it cries out with open arms, “Yes, here I am, let me be your respite, let me be your refuge.”

Writing calls out, sitting with me like an old dear friend, waiting to hear what needs to be said, what strains to be shared. What needs to be captured from my ricocheting thoughts or what waits to be gently laid down for that particular time.

For me it’s as if she takes my hand, pulls me into a forested area with a familiar earthy smell, with a bending mossy covered bank…down by the crick.

I know, you might say, “it’s not a crick, it’s a creek!” Pardon my small-town roots in which I have only and will forever call my quiet place by the secluded stream…down by the crick.

A safe haven where I choose to step onto the wobbly rocks that I dislodge in my hasty crossing to the other side. Or I can immerse one foot on a log that extends haphazardly above the water waiting for the ultimate splashing or crushing of daredevil feet.

My words may follow the movements of a minnow darting below the surface to follow the spark of light that teases it to another pile of pebbles near the embankment. They might slide down and whirl around into the eddy at the bottom of the twig dam just beyond the curve under that willow.

When I go “down by the crick” I find a sweet release. An intake of breath so complete it feels like a swoosh of indescribable resuscitation. I am filled. I am ready to pour out, to share, to follow the current of the words that rise to the surface.

Sometimes I like to invite a companion on my sojourn to the crick. A faithful scriber who recognizes the earnest desires of a writing soul and will kindly bestow words of wisdom as guideposts on my trail to the crick.

I enjoy hooking arms with Thoreau when I am seeking to stir my writing soul,
“These motions everywhere in nature must surely be the circulations of God. The flowing sail, the running stream, the waving tree, the roving wind—whence else their infinite health and freedom.  I can see nothing so proper and holy as unrelaxed play and frolic in this bower God has built for us.”

It often endears words to me, when I realize God has gifted writers with not only perspective and insight on how to interpret the world but with the refined ability to accept their present surroundings and create stories or commentaries about them. Wherever I am, whoever I see, whatever I experience, however I question it… this becomes my discipline.

I suppose I am laying bare the way I write. I admit I lack the standard schedule or agenda of a writer defined by deadlines. I have experienced that, having worked in public relations and as a journalist on long ago writing paths. However, I now follow a determined pursuit of providing words which require unwrapping. I listen, I linger, then I am led.

Down by the crick.

Another favourite companion that often goes before me to carefully clear the path and possibly lift up those straggling branches that could poke me in the eye, is John Muir. I love the cadence and passion of his words as he speaks and seeks to motivate others through his times spent in nature.

“This sudden plash into pure wilderness—baptism in Nature’s warm heart, --how utterly happy it made us!  Nature streaming into us, wooingly teaching, preaching her glorious living lessons, into us. Here, without knowing it, we still were at school; every lesson a love lesson, not whipped, but charmed into us.”

Down by the crick.

It’s my method of rearranging myself toward writing at any particular time. I picture playing by the crick in the park of my childhood days. Conjuring up imaginary creatures that fought against the rivals of the land, the foes that had to be vanquished. Developing characters from skittering bugs that landed on the slimy, slick surface or buzzed through the quietude of my isolated crick cove.

Down by the crick.

Where I hope to be most days. Where I want to be amidst the chaos of life. How I need to be to allow the words to unravel from within and become a gift to others.

I hope you too, will come and join me… Down by the crick.

The crick in Macungie, where I grew up...

May 19, 2020

CRACKS, CRACKPOTS & CHARCUTERIE by Sheila Webster, MA

I have a friend who is part pied piper, magician and musician. We are different in many ways but the same in the ethereal elements of the arts. His wife is a phenomenal artist as well, but at times I believe she struggles less with the cracks of crackpots than we do.

He is a master foodie, using art to make food dance in your imagination and mouth. A couple years ago they flew me out to their home in BC and it was a turning point in my life. From the time the wheels of the plane touched down in Kelowna to the moment I drove away in a car I was returning to its native Saskatchewan for them, we talked, ate, argued and thrived.

It was a complete experience of friendship, food, elements, nature and moments I still unwrap in memory to cherish. Their chalet nestled in the ski town of Rossland was breathtaking in the morning mists adding an otherworld cloak to my days there. The shrouds of fresh air, the scenery, the camaraderie amidst their children’s call, calamities, hugs and hilarities all layered themselves in sensory heaven.
Memories of late evenings by their ever-burning fire or early mornings as the baby babbled and played surrounded by the protective fence to keep the young dogs at bay. One morning I was greeted by mounds of waffles artfully layered with fruit, cream, slivered almonds, a drizzle of syrup and made with a passion for life were paired with strong coffee. Forever this one shared breakfast raised the bar for my idea of morning sustenance.

Thanksgiving evening, they had to slip out for a private family gathering but left me with the visual and taste-able art of a chacuterie board; paired carefully with a drink was thoughtful and inclusive though we were separated for the evening. The warmth of their family oozing through the ordinary and the tantalizing feeling of being included wholly without reservation was humbling.

My friend can make a song out of anything and it becomes so lyrical and haunting. His bathroom transforms late at night into a recording studio, so as not to wake his small tribe and sweetly sleeping wife. The light scent of clean children still lingering while the mists of the steam still are drying on the mirror and shower doors. An errant candle still dances to the melodies. Run little darlin…hurry fast..time to come home… his fingers deftly make the strings sing the songs themselves words measured out with the tunes for perfection.

His creative mind captures things and makes them into reality. At times he will capture the moment in a photo and send it to me as never-ending evidence that his family embraces life differently and sees art all around, natural and potential. This particular picture he has used a pressure washer to etch out a map of the world in simple flaked paint and cement. 

This type of free spirit has always connected with mine, a child in the wind only feeling alive in the creative moments of life. 

He inspires me because he has captured the cracks in his over busy days and full life to seem like a crackpot to some but in reality, a magician, musician and life artist. The proof is not only in the pictures, charcuterie, songs and poetry but the laughter of this pied-pipers children and friends.



Sheila Webster is a writer, certified counsellor & coach, and editor of FellowScript Magazine.        She has been writing most of her life.

May 17, 2020

Redeem the Time by Lynn Dove


It has been nearly ten weeks since Alberta, and the rest of Canada, went into imposed lock down due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic.  My husband and I have been sequestered away in our home, following all the health and safety protocols, and taking even extra precautions due to my compromised immunity after my cancer treatments last year.  The first week of quarantine, I actually luxuriated in the isolation.  I enjoyed the no-guilt feeling of not needing to do anything.  Nothing was expected of me, there were no schedules to follow, no activities to attend, and my time was my own.  I did what I suspect a lot of people did during the first couple of weeks of isolation; I thoroughly cleaned every nook and cranny of my home!  I had to reacquaint myself with my vacuum cleaner, but was thankful the lady who had faithfully cleaned my house while I underwent chemo and radiation, had stockpiled enough cleaning supplies so I could clean my home again at my own pace.  I was grateful that I had my energy back to do the cleaning tasks once again.  I did a little bit each day, going room to room, cleaning out closets and drawers, and re-organizing everywhere.  When I got tired, I stopped, knowing I had the luxury of time to complete whatever I had started the day before.  There was no need to hurry because no one was expected to visit, so the house could be in a state of uproar, and I felt no panic to set it all aright for company.  In those first two weeks, I enjoyed the freedom of time.  There was no pressure, nothing on the calendar, and I enjoyed the slow-down.  I had planned to spend a little time each day to write, but I got so involved in the daily cleaning tasks, I procrastinated with writing.  There would be time for writing after the cleaning was done, I told myself.

The third and fourth weeks of self-isolating, I discovered there was not one thing in my entire house that needed dusting.  The kitchen was immaculate, and I lamented that no one could see it.  How proud my children would have been of me!  I have never been a Martha Stewart type, ask anyone!  I have literally had cobwebs on my vacuum-cleaner!  I don't enjoy dusting and vacuuming, and I have basically the same repertoire of tried and true meals I cycle through each month.  I don’t really have a great talent for cooking or baking, but during this season of Covid, I’ve tried some new recipes, and my husband has been greatly pleased. While I attempted new culinary fare, I continued to procrastinate with writing.  There would be time for writing after the cooking and baking was done, I told myself.

I fully intended to walk every day, weather permitting, during these weeks of quarantine.  I wasn’t going to let self-isolating get in the way of pursuing some fitness goals.  After all, I had all the time in the world now to walk and do some exercising from the comfort of my own home.  Here in Alberta, we have been in the deep freeze far longer than the rest of Canada, so initially it was easy to blame the weather to avoid exercising.  Then, I was caught up in the cleaning mode, followed by the cooking and baking mode.  The weather improved, but I still put off walking.  My best friend sent me a text on May 1st that read: “I need to social distance myself from my refrigerator so I can flatten my curves!”  I laughed, but had to admit, my husband and I have accumulated some isolation ponch over these many weeks.  We’ve spent an inordinate amount of time watching T.V., binge-watching Star Trek mostly.  I dream of places now where no one has gone before, so I can go outside one day and not worry about physical distancing!  I still procrastinate with writing.  There will be time for writing after the binge-watching is done, I tell myself.

During the last few weeks of forced confinement, I have noticed that my house needs to be dusted and vacuumed again.  I find myself not motivated to take on the task.  My house is tidy and clean.  I can live with it.  There’s ample time to deep clean in this extended lockdown.  No hurry, I tell myself. 

What I wouldn’t give to go out to a restaurant again?  I complain.  Home-cooking is losing its appeal.   We order take-out for the third time in a week.  I scroll through the Netflix offerings again, and turn the T.V. off.  I’ve lost interest, or maybe I’ve seen it all now.  I pick up a book, but even that favoured pastime does not hold my interest long.  I try to write, but it is a tedious and frustrating exercise.  I blame writer’s block, but that would be false.  I am easily distracted, and I stare at a blank screen on my computer trying to find the words to express my thoughts and end up watching videos on YouTube, or playing mindless computer games, or immerse myself again in the daily news reports about the global pandemic.  The tedium of being confined to my house is wearing on me.  I miss my kids, I long for hugs from my grandchildren.  The weather may be improving, but I am still not taking advantage of it like I should so when my husband suggests going for a long drive, I am only too happy to go!  There will be time for writing after the drive, I tell myself.  
This morning (May 15th), I looked at my blank calendar, and suddenly I remembered I have a writing deadline!  I’m supposed to write a post for the InScribe Writer’s Online blog.  I cannot procrastinate.  I am running out of time to get it posted on time!  I don’t panic, I just start writing.  The words flow freely, and I am caught up in the joyous exercise of writing.  As I write, I think I have found the motivation I need during these remaining weeks of isolation.  I need deadlines, I need schedules, I need time-lines!  It is an epiphany for me, something I never thought I would be grateful for: the lack of time!

I must redeem the time!

Time is a gift from God, and none of us know how much of it we are allotted.  I realize I have wasted many long days doing things at home during this pandemic that have no lasting eternal value.  It is not a bad thing to want to cook and clean, or go for long walks or drives, but I confess none of those activities give me great, long-lasting joy.  Psalm 51 comes to mind: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me…” (vs. 10-12)  I realize I have lost my ministry focus over these past weeks.  I have allowed time-wasting distractions to determine how I spend my days, rather than embrace this time to draw even closer to God.  I realize, and I hope not too late, that I must be more purposeful to seek His direction with my writing, so I might encourage others, and share the Gospel during this time of Covid-19.  I may have pressed a “pause” button on my writing, the last several weeks, but I’m ready to resume now.

All I need now is more time!

“This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”  Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  (Ephesians 5:14-17)


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 FacebookTwitter, and at lynndove.com