June 30, 2020

Covid-19 from the Rear-View Mirror by Sandi Somers

Image by Pixabay

January was the dawn of a new decade, and everyone expected it would be a landmark year with 20/20 vision—or so we thought. We had new expectations, new hopes, and new dreams. Even economists were optimistic. Who could have foreseen what lay ahead?

Covid-19 crept up on Canada and became full-blown in mid-March – in the week that changed our world.

These past four months of living with Covid have impacted our InScribe writers. We’ve had so many excellent blog posts on this theme, some of which I want to share again with you.

In March, our Lenten disciplines became submerged under the greater disciplines, restrictions, and denials of Covid.

ü  In her blog post, Marnie Pohlmann gave us pause for thought to “consider this present pandemic isolation as a ‘forced” lent’”. “We are forced to practice sacrifice this Lenten season,” she wrote, “and this may continue past when we usually celebrate our salvation at Easter. As Christians, we can willingly sacrifice for the good of the world, like Jesus did.”   

But paradoxically, these Covid restrictions became a place for God’s presence with and in us.

ü  Vickie Stam reflected on Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom.” “The world feels different right now but God is still the same,” she wrote. “God will take care of us…We can use this time to draw closer to him and rest in him. Use this time for what is good. Notice what you have been missing in life. God wants us to depend on him.” 

ü  Steph Beth Nickel wrote: “It seemed like a very good time to focus on some of those things that never change.” In her characteristic style, she described 11 things to consider and ponder. 

Unlike celebrating Easter and Christ’s resurrection which followed Lent, our confinement with Covid-19 had and has no defined end. I sometimes felt we were living in C.S. Lewis's Narnian winter in our isolation, where it was always winter and never spring.

ü  SharonHeagy emphasized how much we wait during this time.  “Now we are all waiting. Waiting to move forward into whatever shape the world will take post pandemic pandemonium. But we need not be confused or anxious or impatient as we wait. This virus is no surprise to God and he will get us through it if we wait on Him. We have the Holy Spirit within us to guide us and teach us and comfort us.” She quoted a fellow blogger who wrote, “God is not asking you to figure it out. God is asking you to trust that He already has.” 

However, just as the Narnian winter gave way to spring, so during the spring of Covid, our writers emphasized some bright spots.

ü  JoyBailey wrote on the beauty she experienced during a spring isolation walk. “Life is different right now, but the world is still beautiful. God is still there. Still here.” 

Covid crept into our May and June topics of “Writing in the Cracks of Time” and “Writing Our Life Themes.” 

ü  SusanBarclay wrote an eloquent poem about trying to write in the congestion of home life during Covid.
Now I must grow my words
By force
Or they will not grow at all

ü  Lynn Dove continues to experience ongoing medical issues. “I know my writing is in perpetual metamorphosis,” she wrote. “What I write about today, will not be what I write about a year from now... maybe not even a week from now.  I'm okay with that.  I do pray I will be writing less and less about my ongoing medical issues…All I can say with great certainty going forward is, "The Themes They are A-Changin'". 

ü  Hope rose in Denise Ford’s poetic post in June.  She spoke of rising from the dormancy of the last few months to renew our lives and continue to write. Below are a few lines from a poem she wrote for her church, “When the New Day Dawns.”

So, I begin to step into this new day.
This dawning of life restructuring and falling together,
amidst social distancing, among creative masking, within boundaries and without controls, within respectfulness and without recklessness.
When the new day dawns I begin my reflection, responding to your glory, refining my thoughts to express my love to You.
Not leaving the encampment of your presence but revelling in it.
Taking note of the words that pour forth, over and through my lips to praise and gratefully acknowledge You.
You meet me as this new day dawns. My words no longer held back, no longer contained.
As this new day dawns, I begin my reflection, while your glory glides and settles over me, surrounded by your protection promises and your guidance within me.

How is God speaking to you now in your rear-view mirror of this pandemic?
What is your hope and your faith for your road up ahead?

Hope In a Backpack - Guest post by Gloria Guest

Always pack hope!
There are boxes piled in my living room. Again. It can only mean one thing. That a move is most likely eminent. I say most likely because the final decision won’t be made until the end of the week, but the presence of the boxes is a good indication of what I think that decision will be.
A consistent theme of my life has been constant change and a lot of those changes have included boxes. Suffice it to say that I’ve lived in four provinces, approximately a dozen or more towns, cities or farms and something like thirty houses or more scattered amongst all those places.
My mother was a packer extraordinaire, most likely made easier by our simplistic lifestyle, not by choice, but due to our family’s meagre income. What was accumulated in our transient lives was often not considered of much consequence when our moves were last minute sometimes and the only moving vehicle was the family car. Furniture, toys, bicycles and more were left behind in the dust as my father tore down yet another road, looking for that elusive happiness. Mom however, seemed as if she’d found a way to pack up more than just our few treasured items and necessities. Along with her always seemed to come her can do attitude wrapped up in the package of hope. Hope that things could get better. Hope that things would be better in the next place. Hope for a lasting job for my father; one that he wouldn’t quit in a few weeks or be laid off from or worse yet, fired. Hope for new friends. Mom always seemed to have packed her hope.
And so have I. Hope has gone along with me with each move. In every life altering change, every culture shock experience. It’s been there in all the seasons of life and has seen me through many tough life circumstances. Along my life map are many new schools, new friends and even new bullies. Soon I would often say goodbye to those friends. Again. In spite of hope though, unfortunately strife and fear and dysfunction also followed my childhood family. My sister suffered an early eating disorder at the age of ten and later my mother was diagnosed with cancer at only 36 years of age. There was the eventual bitter divorce of my parents and a newly forged family, minus our father.
When I left home, I eagerly packed up my few belongings, a bit of pocket change and a big amount of hope to find a job in the city, eventually leading me to a farming community with my husband, where I would need all the hope I could get. Together we endured drought, grasshoppers and I dealt with in law problems and culture shock once again. And always, in the shadows, lurked my childhood traumatic memories, creeping ever closer into my consciousness. Yet hope was there through it all, in the help of our commitment to God, sought out mentors and counsellors and in the shining, bright eyes of my children. Those little eyes and arms wrapped around me were an anchor of hope for me when my mother succumbed to cancer at only 48 years of age and I felt hope seeping out of me.
Soon, we left the farm, but hope came with us into a new community, new jobs, new everything. We did build a life, juggling work, sports and family life, but my growing depression and anxiety along with the devastating loss of my sister to suicide felt insurmountable at times. Unfortunately childhood trauma is not something you can simply move away from.
Yet I did find and unpack hope again. I found it, after yet another two moves, in the form of a counsellor who specialized in chronic childhood ptsd (depression was most likely a misdiagnosis) and hope grew larger. No longer is it just a small glimmer in my life but its light has spread and reached into dark corners that I didn’t even know were there. Easy? No. But hope is most definitely alliances with truth and healing and with those three on your side, it’s a hard combination to beat.
And now I face another possible journey. This one will take me full circle back to that farming community. For someone who has always been able to leave my problems in the rear view mirror, this could be the scariest move of all. But I’m packing hope; hoping for more time with my grandchildren, a strengthened relationship with my son and daughter-in-law who could use the support and hope for new challenges in a possible job opportunity. I hope there will be new friends. Mostly I hope for more healing in my life.
Besides constant change, hope is a recurring theme in my life and is reflected in almost all of my writing. When it gets hard to write about it so vulnerably, I remind myself why I write; to forge a path for someone who has not yet reached this spot in their future, to walk alongside someone in the present and to shine a light back to someone caught in a dark past.
Wherever you go in life, always pack your hope. And don’t forget to unpack it when you get there.
I Hope to see you down the road somewhere! I’ll be the one with hope in my backpack ;)

June 29, 2020

Fall Conference Goes Virtual!

Due to Covid 19, the ICWF Annual Fall Conference will be online this coming September. 

Several members of the executive held a 'Mock/Trial' Conference in late May to work the 'bugs' out and it proved to be an amazing amount of fun, PLUS it went smoothly. So, never fear! Even if you think you aren't 'tech savvy' this year's conference is for you! When you register you can state whether you want help getting set up and we will have someone ready and willing to assist.

Registration is NOW OPEN at this link. There will be door prizes, workshops, speakers, awards, the fall contest winners, blue pencil, the AGM and so much more. Go to the link above for all the details.

June 28, 2020

Truth, Justice, and the Narnian Way - Bruce Atchison

Looking back on my life, I've always valued what is true and hated lies. For example, I felt deeply hurt when I discovered my parents had lied to me about Santa. They obviously didn't know what the Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:21 (BBE). "Fathers, do not be hard on your children, so that their spirit may not be broken."

And when I heard the gospel at a vacation Bible school in 1969, I considered it carefully before making up my mind to repent and become Christ's adopted child. But since nobody mentored me and I had suffered some bad church experiences, I fell for the lies of The World Tomorrow radio program.

I craved God's truth so much that I fell for the lies of a house church leader who claimed to receive revelations from heaven. He, and the woman whose house we met in, also blamed me because I wasn't healed of my poor sight. Their abuse caused me to reject the Lord for nine years. I believe these are the type of folks Christ meant in Matthew 18:6 (BBE). "But whoever is a cause of trouble to one of these little ones who have faith in me, it would be better for him to have a great stone fixed to his neck, and to come to his end in the deep sea."

I've also been a fan of justice. Having been sent to a school for the blind, I know what it feels like to be imprisoned and exiled for no crime.

It was for that reason that I was also attracted to socialism. I didn't know my Bible well enough to realize that confiscation of wealth was actually theft of God's gift to workers. Look at what Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 5:19 (BBE) regarding the gift of earning a living. "Every man to whom God has given money and wealth and the power to have pleasure in it and to do his part and have joy in his work: this is given by God."

Now I know that wealth redistribution by force is a wrongful sort of confiscation. It also rewards idleness. Proverbs 21:25 (BBE) reads, "The desire of the hater of work is death to him, for his hands will do no work."

Because of these character traits, I've enjoyed the Narnia chronicles by C. S. Lewis. Evil was present in those stories but it was always vanquished.

This is why Revelation 21:4 (BBE) means so much to me. "And he will put an end to all their weeping; and there will be no more death, or sorrow, or crying, or pain; for the first things have come to an end." Amen!

June 27, 2020

Lesson in Unexpected Places by Lorilee Guenter

When life gives you fallen trees, make mulch
All of life is a gift from God. We can ignore the beauty - the sights, the sounds and lessons all around us - or we can listen, enjoy and learn. I prefer to learn both from my surroundings and from my reading. This learning and simple everyday observations show up in both my writing and my artwork as I connect the various pieces in sometimes unexpected ways.

This week I have been pondering Psalm 34, especially verse eight. "Taste and see that the Lord is good." I found this verse repeated in different places and times as I considered this post. The psalmist makes this statement in a poem about trusting God with everything; our anxieties, our troubles and our life. The more I contemplated the psalm, the more I realised one of the themes that shows up in my writing reflects this psalm.

Anchored in the Rock
I often write about overcoming fear, especially fear of failure. I had an aha about healthy risk and overcoming as I sat watching pole vault at a track and field meet a number of years ago. Every athlete competing, including the winner,  would fail at least three times before the event was over. These athletes recognised failure as a stepping stone to improvement. Alternately, I have watched a young robin perch on the side of the nest and flap its wings before returning to the nest. It reminded me that risk is necessary for growth. Until the robin trusts its wings and tumbles to the ground, it cannot take the next step to maturity. Both of these vignettes were the result of paying attention to my surroundings and recognising the lessons in front of me.

"Taste and see..." A call to trust the God who created all that is around us. A call to observe with all our senses what He is doing because that is part of how we understand who He is. This brings me back to where I started, observation. I don't have to go somewhere exotic or do something amazing instead I need to pause and notice what God has provided here and now. He will teach me whether I am weeding the garden or climbing a mountain. Lessons come in any place and at any time. Many of these lessons find themselves repeated in the themes of my writing. This creates a quirky and eclectic mix of creativity which is just the way I like it. Thankfully the Lord is indeed good and He continues to teach and encourage me in the daily details, beautiful or not. I pray my life and my art reflect this.

 Psalm 34: 8
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

June 26, 2020

Stories from the Front - Marnie Pohlmann

Even though the sun will soon rise above the horizon, the blackness deepens in preparation for a last battle. It is always darkest before the dawn. The last moments of night fight to keep control, to allow sinister events that can only happen in the darkness more time to destroy those who cannot sleep.

I just need to hold on, to not give in or give up, until the light wins the battle and brings a new day. My battle will continue then but in a different way. The night brings shadows from every direction that whisper pain and lies. In the day, I will be able to see the enemy more clearly, allowing me to know where to run for safety and where to stand and fight.

When I was first sent to the front lines I didn’t know how to fight. Scars testify to how death tried to claim me.  Just in time, God-given instinct provided me the ability to parry and thrust to protect myself enough to survive that initial battle. I then learned, sought answers, studied, and practiced with the Commander to recognize the attacks and how best to counter them. It took years, but little by little I made progress. With every small victory, my skin thickened and my muscles grew stronger.

Sometimes new weapons are forged and surprise me with the unknown. In those times I may lose my footing and must retreat to tend to fresh wounds. I have learned that retreat is not the same as defeat. When the enemy seems unbeatable and I go into the battle anyway because it is what I am asked to do, it is not without fear and could be described as either foolhardy or brave. But knowing when to rest and recover is sometimes even more difficult than sacrificing myself. Being still in the darkness is not for the faint of heart. However, in time I also learned that darkness can also provide comfort with the promise of light.

Like tonight, I am worn out and wounded. I lay in the shadows, on alert to every sound and brush of the wind that finds my hiding place. My instincts say to sleep, or to run, or to surrender. I am learning to consider, instead, what the Commander has taught me. How to wait, to heal, to allow the night to pass and the light of day to come. The light will show the truth despite and beyond the shadowy whispers of the past.

Perhaps in the morning I will discover I am hunkered down behind enemy lines rather than near the safety of the fortress. But when the light once again shines, I will also see my options. I will see the steps I must take to follow my orders.

So I wait. Even as the darkness deepens and time stretches toward certain death, I am not idle in my waiting. I stay still, but I put pressure on the bleeding. My breathing calms and my heart quiets.  I watch. I know from experience that if I can hold on a little while longer daylight will come.

This battle is not about my own survival. It could be, but there is no point in saving only myself. It often feels like I am the only one fighting, but this war is much bigger than me.

I carry scars from struggling to claim this land for the Lord, so others may live in peace with Him. I am often wounded and hurt but never defeated. The wounds show scarred paths leading toward victory. They are maps to share with others who also feel trapped and afraid in the darkness. This is a war worth waging.

I close my eyes for a moment and when I open them, I can see it. A slight difference between the varied shadows, a graying of the deepest dark. The light is coming. While I wait, I repeat to myself the wisdom these battles have taught me, that I may live today to share with others once again tomorrow.

“It is possible to overcome darkness because the Light is present, no matter how dark life seems. I can keep going because Light gives hope. No matter how tired, afraid, hurt, or alone I feel I will fight, because I am never alone, and I will be given the time needed to rest and heal. So I will sharpen my weapons and polish my armour to reflect the Light so others can know the way to victory. This battle, and my life, belongs to the Lord.”

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.                                  Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

Marnie Pohlmann writes about learning to be Phosphorescent, absorbing and reflecting the light of God no matter what darkness surrounds life. She believes that life's struggles can be overcome and redeemed because God is present.

*photos courtesy of Pixabay.com with CCO license.

June 25, 2020

Gone Fishing by Sharon Heagy

            Originally when I was thinking about this blog post I was just going to have a sign reading ‘Gone Fishing’.  After all, Wi-Fi signal is hit and miss in the waters of northern Saskatchewan. But I made a commitment and I need to keep it. It is something I have been striving towards. There was a time when I was anal about finishing every project and finishing it on time. Alas, I seem to be lacking in that department lately. I was hoping to get this post done before I left home but that didn’t happen. So here I am scrambling to meet my deadline. Whoever told John Denver that life on the farm is kinda laid back was, well, wrong – at least in my world. (And yes, Sheila Webster, I am using the farm as an excuse – again.  Hard to believe eh?)

            But God called me to write and I need to be obedient, for “to obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” (I Samuel: 22b)

            Our theme this month is…. themes. Hmmmm. Seems a bit redundant but I shall persevere.  I have been considering this month’s subject for quite sometime and upon reflection of past experiences certain truths have been revealed to me.  I have had a lot of ‘Oh, yeah!’ moments of remembering writing things that, I thought, had escaped my memory.

            Back when my sons were young, I had a column in a weekly newspaper titled ‘Rockglen Ramblings’. Re-reading some of the columns left me wondering where the editors were? The columns were basically, though I hesitate to admit it, A#1, first rate drivel.  But the people who owned the paper were busy people working on a deadline for a very, very, very small publication and they were kind enough to welcome and encourage this rookie writer.

            Since those beginning days I have dabbled in many genres trying to find my way. To find out what God’s purpose is for my writing. Seeking. Searching. Should I author Children’s stories?  Poetry? Magazine articles? Fiction? Non-fiction?  But lately, after all these years, things are sorting themselves out and they are becoming clearer. There is most definitely a theme, no matter what the genre.

            Three words have repeatedly come to mind as I mull over my past musings and ramblings. Hope. Humour. Encouragement. To touch a soul and bring light to a dark heart. To help someone smile, perhaps even to laugh in the midst of their struggles.  To help them to know that their Abba does indeed love them, does indeed care for them and is beside them every second.  These are the themes I need to share in the words God gives to me.

            Inscribe has shown me that there is a wonderful variety of writing voices that need to be heard. Each writer may touch a heart that needs to be encouraged in a certain way.  It is our responsibility, our privilege and our gifting.

            I would like to encourage each of you to never give up, to push through the writer’s block and blank pages until words appear that pierce or comfort a heart, all to the glory of God. Keep going, dear friends. Keep going, I tell myself. Never give up. For someone out there needs to read your words. Including me. Your words are a wealth of encouragement to me for which I will be forever grateful.

            God will speak through you as you surrender, surrender, surrender. 

            But, for now, I hear the call of the Loon and I must respond, head to the lake, and go fishing. God be with you.

June 24, 2020

It's Only Ever Been About Love ~ Valerie Ronald

The phrase hopeless romantic suggests negative pictures of dewy eyes and dime-store romance novels. In fact, the expression is a description of a personality prone to dreaminess, idealism and imaginative flights of fancy. Not such a bad thing, really. To borrow a lyric from singer/songwriter, Steve Bell, “it’s only ever been about love.”

 That is my life theme in a nutshell. Love.

If only life could be described in such a simple word, but love is a word holding connotations, memories, expectations and baggage too complex to explain in a few sentences. Looking back, I recognize the scarlet thread of love in many guises stitched throughout my days, influencing who I am and what I create.

I grew up in a home where love waxed and waned, according to the emotional state of its residents. My family’s dysfunction squeezed my easily wounded little heart with fear of losing love or not giving enough love myself. Here arrived the hopeless romantic who discovered a flair for writing stories in which love conquered all. When reality became too messy, I escaped into worlds of my own making or read about happier worlds in books. There love could become what I wanted it to be instead of the often painful emotion I struggled with daily.

Then at a rustic Bible camp on the shore of a tucked-away bay, I met the Author of Life and Love for the first time, though I realize He had been drawing me to Himself all along. How could a hopeless romantic resist such a hero? Jesus, Maker of miracles, God in flesh, sacrificing His own life for mine. Such unconditional love soaked into the empty places of my heart until I gladly gave it to Him. I wanted what I saw demonstrated in the lives of those who knew Him at that camp --- joy, peace, purpose, and love overflowing to those around them.

If only the truth of God’s love for me had not drained away through the holes in my already injured heart, perhaps I would not have gone in wrong directions looking for ways to bandage up the wounds. I know now that although I wandered far into the world and all its empty dreams, God never let go of my heart. His love held it fast to His own.

I fell into human love like a cliff diver, headlong, heedless, high on emotions moved by charm and promises. I did not listen to the warnings of others who saw the danger. I jumped anyway, only to nearly drown in years of emotional abuse, manipulation and neglect. Within the crucible, my children ignited a fierce maternal love, teaching me invaluable lessons in sacrifice and devotion. Any spark of romantic love for their father was ground into ash on the altar of threadbare loyalty. Finally I hit bottom, looked up, and found genuine Love reaching down to pick up the pieces.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.   

(1 Jn.4:16b NLT)

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
(Ps. 34:18)

Gradually, as God’s love renewed me from the inside out, I began to write again in an effort to convey what filled my own bruised yet healing heart. I absorbed God’s Word like a restorative broth and what I learned poured out on the page. Though the infinite love of God could never be fully expressed, I had to try. If words written as an offering back to God could give others a glimpse of His great heart for them, I would write all I could.  

My written words are many, and will continue as long as I have the ability to record my thoughts in print. The topics covered are numerous and varied, yet when each piece is stripped of its descriptive flesh, there will always be found the bones of love. It is the theme for all I do, believe, desire and offer to others. My ways of loving are imperfect yet I believe the God of all Love can still use this hopeful romantic to show the way to Him. 

Living loved is to touch bottom in the vast, unending pool of God’s care. Swim in it, float in it, be carried along in the current created by the beat of God’s great heart.

Living loved means though all sure things on earth are whipped out from underfoot, yet you stand firm on the only Rock which cannot be shaken, and you find peace.

Living loved gives a glimpse of yourself through God’s eyes, because His love comes without agendas or conditions or variances. It is a love to rest in.

Living loved sets the Cross at my back, the crux of history and of my own life, where Love stretched out His arms to die for me.      

(excerpt from my blog devotional, Living Loved)

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

June 23, 2020

Two Colourful Ribbons by Joylene M Bailey

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay 

I think it’s interesting how a person’s calling is often related to their natural ‘bent’, the way they’re created, the way they roll. 

In recent years I’ve heard some negative talk surrounding the idea of a calling, but the Oxford English Dictionary simply defines a calling thus: ‘A strong urge toward a particular way of life or career.’

My writing life is an extension of my everyday life, and in my everyday life I’ve only recently considered whether or not it has followed a theme. 

Throughout my life, I only followed my natural bent and how I sensed the LORD’s leading. But as I purposefully look back, I see two colourful ribbons threading their path through the course of my life, sometimes wending a singular circuit, sometimes running side by side, or intersecting.

When I was born, Mom & Dad named me on purpose, and prayed from the time I was tiny that joy would be evident in me and in the character I presented to the world.

From my earliest memory I have been aware of those little sparks God put in my ordinary day that set the joy bubbles bobbing in my soul. This has extended into my grownup life, though it is sometimes harder to pick out. Not because God doesn't put them there for me, but because I don't make the conscious effort to look past the cares of life and notice them. That's where choosing joy comes in.

Finding joy in everyday life inspires me and keeps me going, and it’s what I want to relay to my readers. If I can inspire you to take a second look at your life and see those sparks God puts in your path, then I have been true to my calling.

Encouragement is the other ribbon laced through my life. Last year I came upon Isaiah 50:4 and read it as if seeing it for the first time: 

'The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are instructed to know how to sustain the weary with a word. He awakens me each morning; he awakens my ear to listen like those being instructed.'  [CSB]

'… sustain the weary with a word' jumped out at me and I fairly shouted, “THAT’S IT!” That completely defined the ‘strong urge toward a particular way of life’ that fulfilled me; that seemed to be the way I was created. 

And so, as He awakens me each morning like those being instructed, I learn how to sustain the weary with a word; how to encourage someone on their way; how to help another to look upward and outward instead of downward and inward. 

At the beginning of 2020 I asked two of my very Instagram-savvy daughters to give me a tutorial on building a bigger presence on Instagram. It seems to be the place to be, at least for the younger generations. 

Both of them said that my Bio was the first important thing. I had only a couple of seconds to hook followers, so my bio needed to be short and catchy. I needed to think about who I was, what I was sharing, who I wanted to connect with, and the people I wanted as followers.

It took me more than a week to come up with the shortest bio I’ve ever written, but I think what I finally ended up with communicates my calling and my heart: 

Gentle encourager, joy-infuser, sustaining the weary with a word.

Joy and encouragement are the two ribbons laced through my life and colouring my writing.


Joy writes from her home in Edmonton, AB, where she lives with The Cowboy and Babe. Find her at Scraps of Joy and @joyousmi on Instagram.

June 22, 2020

Beauty by Alan Anderson

In preparation for this month’s post I concentrated on one theme. As a creative person I try to capture beauty through my writing and my attempts at photography. I love and need beauty.

See Beauty
Almost every day hummingbirds eat from the feeder by our living room window. Their feathers refract light and produce the vibrant colours hummers are famous for. They are a beauty and pleasing to the eyes.

Feel Beauty
I am a hugger. One of the tough experiences during these pandemic times is an absence of those I hug. For the most part my hugger partner is my wife. We enjoy our hugs even after forty-two years of marriage.

To hug is to feel the beauty of another person on an emotional level. To hug helps lower our stress from the cares of life. Hugs give us a sense of belonging, empathy, and love. Hugs remind us we are not alone.

Hear Beauty
There are times where music seems the only medium to calm souls and help drown out the noise of life. I enjoy music in the background when I write. There are three pieces of classical music I never become tired of hearing.

1. Agnus Dei, by Samuel Barber, is from John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” A sense of calmness permeates my soul and the words to write come flow on to the page. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiuC_CaObbI

2. Miserere mei Deus, by Gregorio Allegri. The inspiration for this piece is taken from Psalm 51, where the psalmist pleads,

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy steadfast love; according to thy abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin!”

What makes, Miserere mei Deus, beautiful is there are no musical instruments throughout the song other than voices. Readers if you listen to Miserere mei Deus, allow yourself the gift of non-activity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3s45XOnYOIw

3. The musical masterpiece, “Hymn of the Cherubim,” by, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, is another magnificent way to calm one’s spirit as work progresses on a writing project. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPlK5HwFxcw

Beauty in silence. 
The silence mentioned here is what we may term good silence. Good silence allows us to be still to enjoy or reap benefits from a moment. Like anything else worthwhile silence takes time and energy. The result can be memorable for a lifetime.

In my last year as a chaplain I had a memorable time with a particular patient. She suffered a stroke and could no longer speak. I sat by her bed and smiled at her. She smiled back and reached out her hand. I held her hand, and she squeezed mine. She squeezed my hand again and tears dropped from her eyes. This visit together did not need words. I will never forget this moment of silence with this lady as she nurtured my soul.

Words of Beauty
I pray my words will strive for beauty whether spoken or written. I pray my words will be truthful and edify those who read them.

My beloved InScribe family, considering the sorrow of our world today let us continue to write words of faith and life. Whatsoever is lovely can be our message and beauty will find its way into troubled hearts.


June 21, 2020

God's GRACE - by Tracy Krauss

Several years ago at an InScribe Fall Conference, guest speaker Nancy Rue challenged attendees to think long and hard about their work and try to distill each piece into one word. While a novel can have multiple themes or "moral lessons", this one word should be the driving force behind the story. I felt inspired by the exercise and it is a practice that I have maintained since. 

With more than twenty books and plays in print, my list has grown a bit since then. It includes: TRUTH, REDEMPTION, GRACE, ACCEPTANCE, TRUST, ADAPTATION, SURRENDER, FRIENDSHIP, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, TENACITY, and HOPE. (Okay, so 'unconditional love' is two words...!)

When looking over this list, the element that I think is the most encompassing is GRACE. God's amazing grace to mere human sinners is at the heart of my writing, especially my fiction. There is always at least one person who comes to know Christ, so readers journey with that character through some rough spots. As well, characters who are already believers don't always act in Christ-like ways, but God's GRACE is there, no matter how badly they fall.

I suppose I keep coming back to this theme because to me it is true to life. I did not come to know Christ until I was a young adult, so I know what it's like to live on the 'other side', so to speak. It has helped me to see the world from a different perspective and perhaps have a bit more empathy and understanding for folks living a secular life. I still have a lot of friends, acquaintances, and family members who are not saved - and I'm not afraid to hang out with them! My husband also grew up in a non-believing home and had a much rougher background than I did. In our time in ministry we've seen many examples of God's GRACE at work in both the church and outside of it. We're used to dealing with drug addicts, street people, and victims of poverty and abuse. Strangely (or maybe not so strange) we've also seen a fair bit of hypocrisy within the body. Just because a person is saved, attends church regularly, or lives an outwardly 'clean' life does not mean they don't sin. But God extends His GRACE when true repentance occurs. 

My desire is that readers sense the all encompassing GRACE of God in my writing and turn to Him without fear of judgement from others. He is the only one we need fear when it comes to judgement, and fortunately, His GRACE is made perfect in our weakness. It is greatly fulfilling to hear from readers who were impacted by one of my stories, and often it is the unconditional acceptance - this GRACE of God - that is mentioned.

As a side note... 
Please take the time to read this exquisite post from InScribe member Brenda Leyland, which was the inspiration for this month's theme: https://inscribewritersonline.blogspot.com/2019/07/the-gift-of-beautiful-words-in-troubled.html

Tracy Krauss writes from her home in northern BC. She is enjoying semi-retirement from a long time career as an Art, Drama and English teacher, and currently has the honour of serving as InScribe's president. Visit her website to learn more about her more than twenty published titles. -fiction on the edge without crossing the line- 

June 20, 2020

To Revel in Each New Day – Denise M Ford

To offer kind words from the strength of gentleness.
To send forth hope from a foundation of faith.
To rise up and serve, to encourage when others cannot.
To open minds and hearts to see beyond the one-dimensional perspective of reality.
To bless, by releasing the creative spirit that refuses to remain dormant within me.

As I sought to condense action statements to describe and delineate how I perceive the theme of my life, I sought relevant scripture to accompany my thoughts. The Lord did not disappoint. Even as I type those particular words I am struck, loudly and plainly struck by their message, “the Lord did not disappoint.”

Guided by His loving and faithful presence I paged to Philippians 2:1-5, where Paul speaks on the joy in serving.

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”

Honestly, I do not achieve a daily determined mindset of Christ. I fall short every single day. My words, my actions, my discipline and my initiation fail miserably upon analysis of how and what I should have or could have done. But I still begin each new day seeking to serve and desiring to bring joy to others, through my spoken or written words.

In this spring of isolation and dormancy brought upon us by the treacherous Co-Vid 19 Virus, I literally unearthed a beautiful metaphor in the process of readying my planters to receive blooming flowers. As I pulled out the pieces of wood and twigs which I had placed in the porch pots for my winter arrangements, a lilac branch caused me to stop in mid-motion. A distinct clump of roots dangled from the bottom of the twig. As I looked closer, I laughed as I discovered several buds pushing forth from the other end. Despite being pruned at the end of fall, stuck into a container of cold and dank soil, covered by winter snow and battered by bitter winds; this twig had produced new life. In its winter dormancy it had managed to release a promise of hope for this particular spring.

Dormancy, it sometimes overwhelms us, and we are unaware of its hold on us. These past few months our world found itself plunked into quarantines and isolation in an effort to battle this virus. Yet like the twig sending forth new growth we now unearth our weary souls. We now rise up and renew our lives.

In May my church asked me to write a spoken word piece based on gratitude and praise despite this pandemic. After I wrote it, I realized it explicitly outlined for me ways to continue the theme of my life, especially at this time of struggle against the dormancy of these days. Below I offer some lines from “When the New Day Dawns.”

When the new day dawns I begin my reflection, responding to your glory, refining my thoughts to express my love to You.
As I revel in your presence settling over and through me, I accept your radiance, it surrounds and protects me.
Even as the words form, even as my praises rise up, I meet You here, in the dawning of this day.
I allow myself to be surpassed by your glorious presence, to be enfolded from within by your spirit of power.
I embrace this mighty determination not bounded by the ground of uncertain and fearful thought.
Words no longer stay silent, words no longer remain restrained, words simply pour through me forming and expressing adoration.
Your refuge, your peace, your blessing.
As this new day dawns, I revel in it.
I gather my broken distorted crushed spirit and let the searing light of your refinement mold and fit me anew.

So, I begin to step into this new day.
This dawning of life restructuring and falling together,
 amidst social distancing, among creative masking, within boundaries and without controls, within respectfulness and without recklessness.
When the new day dawns I begin my reflection, responding to your glory, refining my thoughts to express my love to You.
Not leaving the encampment of your presence but revelling in it.
Taking note of the words that pour forth, over and through my lips to praise and gratefully acknowledge You.
You meet me as this new day dawns. My words no longer held back, no longer contained.
As this new day dawns, I begin my reflection, while your glory glides and settles over me, surrounded by your protection promises and your guidance within me.

You may wonder, what happened to that dormant yet vibrant twig? My husband planted it in a new garden patch. May it offer inspiration and encouragement as it rises up to bless our home and others as we invite them to share and partake in the joy of being together again.
Had a chance to revel in the beauty of the Rockies near Calgary...Kananaskis