September 30, 2020

How Can We Engage in Social Justice? by Sandi Somers

Image by Quotecites


The recent and current “Black Lives Matter” movement has brought to our attention the legacy of the slave trade. Whether or not we agree with the protests, we agree that the movement has challenged us to advocate for justice in society. However, we may wonder: What can I do? I’m just one person. How can my voice be heard?

          The voices of several individuals who advocate for justice inspire us. 

Mother Teresa gave love and dignity to the dying in India. 

Image by Goalcast

Gary Haugen founded the International Justice Mission, an organization that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. It is one of the most respected organizations in the world today.  

Image by Global Leadership Summit

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, published in 1852 several years before the American civil war. It has been claimed that she single-handedly sparked the fire that led to the emancipation of slaves, proving that, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”

Image by AZ Quotes

Most of us don't have the stature of these leaders. However, God calls us all to embrace causes bigger than ourselves—causes which are near to his heart. “Whoever is kind to the needy honours God,” wrote the author of Proverbs (14:31). Isaiah added God’s further instructions: “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17).

It breaks my heart as I pray for Christ’s tender compassion and freedom to come to millions of street children in large cities. To child labourers who are forced to work long hours every day with little concern for their poor nutrition, health, and education.  To workers who agonize in bonded slavery. To the poor and orphans who suffer violence and abuse. To the 260 million believers worldwide who suffer severe persecution. To those in my back yard who are hurting and need Jesus.

In addition to prayer, God has compelled me to give to organizations such as the International Justice Mission, and then participate through such endeavours as sponsoring children overseas and writing letters to encourage persecuted believers. Perhaps my most dramatic engagement has been to take part in mission trips overseas where I met and encouraged persecuted believers and HIV/AIDS sufferers.

However, in the last year, God has opened up a new avenue: to write to these issues. (For example, I wrote a companion piece to this blog post which will be published in the upcoming FellowScript issue.)

As we accept God’s invitation to advocate for the needy, we will become sensitive to needs, both around us and worldwide. The more we comprehend how much God cares for the oppressed, the more He will empower us with His Spirit of compassion and mercy. The more we are filled with compassion, the more we will honour God, both in strategic or small actions—even something as small as giving a cup of water (or mug of coffee) in Jesus’ name. And the more we are inspired to action, the more God will use our abilities and passions to become engaged in causes larger than ourselves.

Gary Haugen said, "God has a plan to help bring justice to the world--and his plan is us." Let us join him in God's plan. 

       How has God challenged you to become involved in social justice issues? What are your roles in change, both in your ministries and in your writing?

        In conclusion, my prayer for all of us comes from this poem.

          O Lord, open my eyes

that I may see the need of others,

open my ears that I may hear their cries,

open my heart so that they need not be without succour.

Let me not be afraid to defend the weak

because of the anger of the strong

nor afraid to defend the poor

because of the anger of the rich.

Show me where love and hope and faith are needed,

and use me to bring them to these places.

Open my eyes and ears that I may, this coming day,

be able to do some work of peace for you.


The poet was Alan Paton of South Africa, who wrote, Cry the Beloved Country, published in 1948 at the beginning of the decades-long apartheid system that gripped his country. 


September 29, 2020

Congratulations Are in Order!

 As you know, InScribe just hosted its first every virtual Fall Conference last weekend. While that is reason enough to celebrate, here are a couple of special items to note:


1st: Sheri Hathaway - “Thoughts from a cancer clinic waiting room”
2nd: Kathleen Friesen “From Death . . .”

Nonfiction to Conference Theme:
1st: Barbara Fuller - “Beyond the Darkness: A note to those who grieve.”
2nd: Robert Stermscheg - “Meatballs Meets Schnitzel”

1st: Janey Bordihn - “Misty Morning”
2nd: Pamela Mytroen - “Bordering on Breakthrough”
3rd: Sylvia Engen Espe - “Hold Me in Your Grip, Lord.” 

Adult Fiction:
1st: Eunice Cooper-Matchett -  “Retrieving Dolly Cry”
2nd: Deb Elkink -  “Repotting”
3rd: Pamela Mytroen -  “When Love is on the Line”
Honourable Mention: Deb Elkink -  “Appearing”

2020 Executive:

President: Tracy Krauss
Vice President: Colleen McCubbin
Administrative Assistant: Marnie Pohlmann
Director @ Large: Charity Mongrain
Director @ Large: Joy Bailey
Director @ Large: Lynn Simpson
Director @ Large: Ruth L. Snyder
Director @ Large: MaryAnn Ward

As well as all the wonderful volunteers who serve on a ministry team!

Thank you to outgoing executive and ministry team leaders:
Bobbi Junior - Treasurer (for 8 years!) 
Pat Gerbrandt - Admin Assistant
Pam Mytroen - Contest Coordinator
Susan Barclay - Writing Groups
Ron Hughes - WorDshops

There is room for you on a ministry team!! Contact an exec member!!

September 28, 2020

Tribute to an Unknown Man by Bruce Atchison

I wish I could say that some famous writer inspired me to write. Certainly Thornton Berges enchanted me as a boy with his Fables of the Green Forest. J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis fired my imagination with their fiction books. And I wanted to live in Zilpha Keatly Snider's Black and Blue Magic paperback. How wonderful, I thought, it would be to be able to fly like a bird with nothing but fresh air surrounding me.

The boring truth is that a certain work counselor started me writing professionally. I forgot his name but not what he encouraged me to do.

I had written CD and cassette reviews for music fan magazines as a hobby. When I showed my tear sheets to the counselor, he suggested I become a professional writer. That appealed to me as I could work from home.

My freelancing success was limited by my poor eyesight. Even so, I had a computer and a screen reader which read aloud my work. 

I also used the Reading Edge machine at the library to read scanned in magazines. It made studying publications for possible article sales easier for me.

Writing my three memoirs was therapeutic. Doing so helped me face the traumas of my physical and spiritual youth. Jesus also helped by taking the emotional pain away.

Now I blog for the Lord, providing readers with the excellent Bible teaching I've learned since coming out of a cult. The Epistle of Saint Jude is my inspiration and I hope I'm contending for the faith to Christ's satisfaction.

September 27, 2020

Mentors Through Time by Lorilee Guenter


It has been said, we stand on the shoulders of giants to reach new heights. Each generation offers something to encourage and inspire those who follow as an uninterrupted chain. Hebrews 11 is a list of imperfect people who set an example of faith. This list forms the start of my mentors in the faith. Sarah laughed and yet became the mother of nations. I have no desire to be recorded as a matriarch of society. Instead of seeking to imitate their accomplishments, I seek to imitate their faith by following the path God has for me. These stories show God is faithful both to call His people and to lead them.

My faith mentors include individuals I have encountered over the years. My grade three Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Jones, instilled the value of reading the Bible not just hearing the stories. Mrs. Sheppard and Sarah Wall set an example of encouragement backed by prayer. There are many more that could be named and I fear I would miss some.

There are similar examples in my creative life as well. I grew up reading just about anything I could get my hands on from 'Winnie the Pooh' to 'Charlotte's Web'; from Anne of Green Gables to Nancy Drew. Libraries opened a world of characters and places I could inhabit through imagination. Mystery, fantasy, biography, adventure, the list of styles and genres I read is extensive. I can not stomach horror and do not enjoy romance much. I will not write horror and said I would not write romance. I had to take that back when family encouraged me to read some romance and give writing it a try. Ass a result, a very rough draft sits on my shelf waiting for further attention. From that experience, I learned not to say never because the unexpected happens. Influences and mentors come from unexpected places and  in unexpected ways. Some mentors I have sought out, such as when I read the published journals of L. M. Montgomery, others surprised me.

In life and in craft, I seek to keep my eyes and ears open. There are things that can be learned everywhere because God is everywhere and He is moulding us for His purposes in order to shine His light into the world. I pray I pay attention to His direction with a willingness to follow where He is leading me. Then I may become a link in the chain of examples for those who follow.

September 26, 2020

Shadows Cast by Light - Marnie Pohlmann


Shadows. I picture the scene in Peter Pan where Wendy sews Peter’s shadow onto his heels. While we enjoy the story of these lost boys, some who look for deeper meanings say Peter’s shadow represents the physical part of Peter, a child who died young so will never grow up. Peter is the spirit and the shadow symbolizes the physical boy because only physical matter casts a shadow.

The wind does not have a shadow. Clouds blown by the wind may cast a shadow, but clouds also have specks of matter in them. Yet we do not see shadows on cloudy days. Shadows can be seen only when light is cast onto something physical.

Projecting this into the Christian realm, mightn’t we be shadows? We are physical. We are a representative of an unseen Spirit. So, when the Spirit’s light shines, does it not cause us to show His unseen Spirit, like a shadow? Is the purpose of a shadow to make the unseen, seen?

I have had shadows influence my life. Some have been scary. But shadows who have influenced my writing style, my voice, and my desire to write, while intimidating, are not scary. Let me tell you about some.

As I post this blog, we are in the middle of the Inscribe (Virtual) Fall Conference. Did you think I was going to say we are in a pandemic called COVID? We are in that, as well, which is the reason our Fall Conference changed from in-person to virtual. I hope you have been able to take in some of the Conference. It has been spectacular. Meeting with Christian writers from across the country is priceless. Many writers from Inscribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship have been my mentors.

I first heard about Inscribe at a poetry workshop in the small town of Big River, Saskatchewan. I didn’t realize at the time how impacting that workshop would be in my life. Has God ever put you in isolation so He could do something big in your life?

When we moved from Big River to Saskatoon, I took a huge risk and called the local Inscribe group to find out how to join them. Linda Hall was the leader then, and it was in that group where I met Janice Dick, Joy Bailey, Sheri Hathaway, and others. They allowed me to believe I could write for fun, never needing to share my writing. God was pushing me into His will.

One year I was able to go to Conference in Edmonton. Sheila Webster phoned me before Conference to invite me to share at the author's reading. I felt I not only had nothing to share, but I was also intimidated by these published authors who treated me like I was a writer, too.

The president the year I went to Conference was Marcia Laycock. She may not remember, but she spoke with me that weekend. The President! Spoke to me! I knew God had placed Inscribe into my life as a billboard. Don’t we always want a sign?

When we left Saskatoon to return to northern BC, I missed meeting with Christian writers. Again, I took a risk and “put out there” in our new home that I was hosting a local Inscribe Christian writers’ group. Shortly after, Tracy Krauss and her husband dropped in at our church. This prolific writer who makes publishing seem a simple task is now our President. Her visit was the encouragement I needed to maintain my membership with Inscribe.

Tracy invited me (challenged is a better word) to post in the Inscribe Writers’ Online blog - every month. I had never been that consistent in writing except in my journals. I had not shared much of my writing where strangers could read. But I took that opportunity and continue to post in this blog.

One summer evening in Barkerville for a wedding, Wally and I were staying at a bed and breakfast. Wally was ill, so I put on his “social” hat. His hat doesn’t fit me well, but I went down for evening tea. As I chatted with a couple, they asked polite questions. I answered vaguely. Then I boldly stated, “I’m a writer.” Terry, the more outgoing of the couple, immediately said, “so is Alan!” I apologetically clarified I only posted on a Christian writers’ blog. Alan Anderson and I then realized we were speaking with a fellow Inscriber. The Spirit shines through this compassionate couple, but there was no mistaking the mallet God used in this “chance encounter” to push me further along this path of words.

Ruth Snyder, then President of Inscribe, encouraged me to help. She introduced me to what goes on behind the scenes to keep Inscribe running. When I met Bobbi Junior I immediately loved her. This spunky woman worked full-time, had health issues, and volunteered many hours. She was Inscribe's treasurer, mainstay, and problem-solver. During all that, she still published two books. The executive team mentors all around them, with God's light shining brightly to reveal their faith-filled shadows.

So many other Inscribe members have been and continue to be my mentors. I find Inscribe writers are faithful to God and to their writing projects. The group inspires me to continue to develop as a writer.

Scripture says, “But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.” (1 John 2:27 NLT) 

Yes, the Spirit of God teaches me. Sometimes He does so by shining His light through mentors who cast His shadow on me.

Do you feel God's light directing His shadow onto your writing? Is His shadow nipping at your heels to be sewn into your writing life? Inscribe is a fellowship of writers who allow God to be their shadow.

Marnie writes from northern BC. 
God continues to cast His shadow onto her life while she walks with Him and grows as a writer.

September 25, 2020

Shadow Learning by Sharon Heagy


“The Shadow knows.” Some of you may recognize this line from an old detective drama that used to be on the radio. Though television had replaced radio by the time I was born, there was still one A.M. station that broadcast many of the old programs all through my youth. The Shadow was an alter ego with many characteristics and since my shadow mentors are wide and varied, I have gathered them together into one super-sized alter ego mentor. Here are a few things I have gleaned from this giant creation.

Voice - We know the Lord is speaking when we hear a voice that could only be His. We recognize the distinct voices of family and friends who are closest to us. We can also recognize authors by their voice. Through the words they write and how they flow off the page to splash in our eyes and trickle in our ears.  It is like a writer’s fingerprint.  We can read a passage and often know before we look at the reference who wrote it. It is an encouragement to find our own voice, knowing it too is unique.

Creativity – Many different genres, many different points of view with the same subject matter or story line.  It’s amazing. Though the base line may be the same, the way an author expands a subject or the way the story is molded in each hand is vastly different.  It’s like music. There are only so many notes but every composer takes those scales and puts them together in their own special way. The notes speak to their heart, create a melody and then flow out as a masterpiece. So it is with those who craft words.  Vocabulary is limited and each person melds words together inside their soul until they pour out as ink on a page. These mentors encourage us to have our own waterfall of creativity. They urge us to be ourselves, no, more than that, they let us know that it is imperative to be true to our own tide of creative waters.

Inspiration – I have notes.  I have lots of notes. And lists. And bits of paper with a scribbled reference.  They have come from a myriad of sources but mostly from workshops, writing groups, courses and reading.  They all get tucked away in a file. Well, some of them have been lucky enough to find a home. Others are spread hither and thither and may be found at the bottom of my purse or in the back of a desk drawer or some other dark corner. But they all get re-read at some point. Not often, but every once in awhile and they spur me on as I remember the motivation the note generated as I wrote it. To all who lead workshops or courses, know that you are mentoring those who are listening. Your words are not just heard and then forgotten. You are an inspiration.

Process – My favourite writing quotation is by Philip Roth and can be found in his book ‘The Ghost Writer’. But I found it in Philip Yancey’s book ‘Finding God in Unexpected Places’.

“I turn sentences around. That’s my life. I write a sentence and then I turn it around. Then I look at it and I turn it around again. Then I have lunch. Then I come back in and write another sentence. Then I have tea and turn the new sentence around. Then I read the two sentences over and turn them both around. Then I lie down on the sofa and think. Then I get up and throw them out and start from the beginning”

This is his process. This may be your process. We all have a methodology, a process that helps us to write. This reminds us to do what works best for us as individuals.

Shadows of mentorship may be found in many places and through many people, provided we remain open to the teachable moment. May your mentors be many and may you separate the silt from the river so that your writing flows for your purposes and for His. Meditate, ruminate and create. May we never give up and never stop learning.

September 24, 2020

Learning in the Shadow of Two Elizabeths ~ Valerie Ronald


When I decided to base this month’s blog post on two authoresses who are significant “shadow mentors” to me as a writer, I was delighted to find a yet unread book by one of them. Elizabeth Goudge, a prolific British authoress born at the turn of the 20th century, has long been the classic novelist I return to again and again. Described by biographer, S. Gower, as “fragile in appearance, but strong in spirit, she seemed at one with the peace and simplicity of her setting. Few novelists have had comparable knowledge and faith in the goodness of human nature, the beauty of childhood, and the pursuit of things lovely and of good report. ” ¹ 

I have a lovingly curated collection of her books, most out of print now, but this one I did not yet own. I began reading “The Little White Horse” with the goal of observing what it is about her writing that inspires me. Instead, I found myself totally drawn into this captivating children’s tale replete with magical settings, vivid characters and deep wisdom beyond its intended audience. My daily routine was set aside as I lost myself in another rich world created by my favorite storyteller.

It did not surprise me that even though written for children, the book contained layers of piquant wisdom woven seamlessly throughout its pages; glimpses of providence fulfilled, good triumphant over evil, animals and nature showing the way. There is a goodness which inevitably leaves its mark on my heart after I read a book by Elizabeth Goudge. I come away believing that hope can still be found in the timeless corners of the world and in the hearts of those who live in her stories. Her books satisfy my yearning for the mysticism of old legends and folklore, yet they are founded on the truth of Christianity. Jesus walks every page of her books without being named, for He shines in the eyes of innocent children and beasts, He paints the natural world with strokes of love and beauty, and He speaks through the struggles and fortitude of characters who strive to do the right thing.

This theme running through Elizabeth Goudge’s writing is what I want to emulate; to soak my stories and words with the love of Jesus without preaching. My goal is to weave His essence throughout my stories, to evoke a deep inner response in a reader’s heart toward the good. Elizabeth Goudge’s books are peopled with believable characters demonstrating their simple faith by living outward-looking lives, desiring the greater good of others rather than focusing on themselves. She does this through enchanting tales so beautifully told, the reader hardly realizes they are being taught how to live well.

“Christmas was like a star fallen down upon the earth, a miraculous thing. If you were paying proper attention to it, you were so astonished that you couldn’t pay attention to anything else.” ~ from Gentian Hill, by Elizabeth Goudge

I discovered the writing of Elisabeth Elliot when I read her first book soon after I became a believer. Through Gates of Splendor is a first-hand account of the deaths of her husband, Jim Elliot, and four fellow missionaries, at the hands of a primitive Ecuadorian tribe in 1955. I would venture to say this classic missionary story is the most well-known of its genre in Christian literature. Elisabeth candidly chronicles not only the gripping events surrounding the tragedy, but the overarching narrative of the individual and corporate motivation of the five missionaries. The impact of this incident could not have resounded around the world as it did if not for her careful yet heart-rending account of its details and repercussions. She tells her own deeply personal story as well as those of the other missionary widows, with unwavering faith and reliance upon God, even in the face of such tragic loss. This book opened my eyes to the power of fine writing to move the heart and spur a life of faith on towards the call of God. I have seen the results of such influence in my own family.

My husband’s brother sold his successful vegetable farm to become a missionary to indigenous people in the north of Manitoba. He had this quote by Jim Elliot posted prominently in his workshop. “He is no fool to lose what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” One dark night flying home from visiting an isolated reserve, the plane he was piloting crashed, killing him and his fellow missionary. His life was influenced by, and in many ways, paralleled the life of Jim Elliot.

Elisabeth Elliot’s literary eloquence, fitting to the era in which she wrote, taught me much about using precise words and carefully chosen descriptions to convey truth. I continued to read many of her books as her literary career flourished, and I must admit, I did not always enjoy them. Not because they were not finely crafted prose, rather, their content was at times like a bucket of cold water jolting awake my often flagging spiritual walk. As I learned from her, I grew to appreciate Elisabeth’s straightforward, refreshing encouragements on how to live in a way honoring to God. The wisdom stemming from her own severe trials and how she faced them gave me much to ponder. My trials have been different yet I have learned and grown through this wise “shadow mentor”, how God can use tragedies and trials to draw others to Himself.

"Peace is as infectious as panic. If my soul is quietly at rest in God, then others will share my peace, because I share His." ~ Elisabeth Elliot

¹ Gower 2001 p153 The World of Elizabeth Goudge Periwinkle Pub. ISBN 0954201507

More of Valerie's writing can be read on her blog

September 23, 2020

Mentored by Irresistible Words by Joylene M Bailey

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay 

I’m pretty sure Dr. Seuss taught me to read. 


In other primary readers, while John and Janet were getting new skates …

“Look, Mother,” said John.

“I have some skates.

Janet and Anne have some skates.”

“I can help Anne,” said Janet.

“John and I can help Anne.

Come on, Anne.

We can help you skate.”


… Dr. Seuss’s characters were hopping on Pop, Thing One and Thing Two were getting into trouble and the Fiffer-Feffer-Feff was sporting four fluffy feathers. Dr. Seuss’s rollicking rhymes and winsome words hooked me from the beginning and helped me to understand how joyful words could be.


Later, I learned that lighthearted tales, silly or not, often spoke truth:

“You couldn’t say “Skat!” ‘cause that wouldn’t be right.

You couldn’t shout “Scram!” ‘cause that isn’t polite.

A host has to put up with all kinds of pests,

For a host, above all, must be nice to his guests.” 

       - Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose -


Dr. Seuss taught me to love words.



Like many others this month, I loved Lucy Maud Montgomery from my adolescence on. While I enjoyed Anne’s story, I was more captivated by the characters, and the joy of nature, and the comfort of place and belonging. The way LMM could take me right into the moment with her words, where I saw the sunset over the harbour, inspired me. 

Overhead was one long canopy of snowy fragrant bloom. Below the boughs the air was full of purple twilight and far ahead a glimpse of painted sunset sky shone like a great rose window at the end of a cathedral aisle.

- Anne of Green Gables -

Many years later I was able to verify with my own eyes, just how accurate her descriptions of her beloved island were when I vacationed on Prince Edward Island. 


LM Montgomery taught me to paint pictures with words. 



More than any other shadow mentor though, the one who inspires me most is Patricia MacLachlan. Though she writes for children, her books seem to cross age boundaries, as with her Newbery Medal winning book, Sarah, Plain and Tall

I love how she weaves together stories of the young and the old. Mostly I marvel at her gift of saying so much with so few words. As one reviewer has said, she “has become known for creating an intense emotional experience for the reader using very few words.”


They had come for her in a wagon and taken her away to be buried. And then the cousins and aunts and uncles had come and tried to fill up the house. But they couldn’t.

- Sarah, Plain and Tall -


Her gift for few words captivates me in my all-time favourite book, All the Places to Love. In this beautiful picture book, what is not said is just as important as what is said.  


Today we wait, him sitting on a wooden-slat chair

And me on the hay,

Until, much later, my grandmother holds up a small bundle

in the open window,

Wrapped in a blanket made from the wool of her sheep,

And my grandfather cries.

- All the Places to Love -


There are stories upon stories upon stories in that one sentence. Enchanting!


Her work kindled in me the need, the desire, to keep my words few but compelling. Because of her writing, I took poetry classes in order to learn how to write with no wasted words. 


Patricia MacLachlan taught me to create an experience with words and the spaces around the words.


These three writers, in their turn, have inspired in me a desire to use irresistible words to invoke an experience of joy and beauty in my readers. I'm not there yet, but every word gets me closer. 

 Scraps of Joy