October 15, 2021

The End of an Era - by Tracy Krauss

This month's theme got me thinking about a lot of defining moments in my life. Of course, we could all list things like marriage, deaths in the family, having children... These are huge moments that shift our world. So too, I've had shifts in my 'identity', often associated with my primary work - teacher, minister's wife (I didn't see that one coming!), homeschooling mother... Then there are some really big moments attached to physical circumstances: a heart attack, open-heart surgery, being blind for a time... There seemed to be so many defining moments that I had trouble choosing which direction I should go for this post.

So, I decided to go with the most recent. (Forgive me if it sounds similar to the latest post on my personal blog or my most recent newsletter.)


At the beginning of this month, I stepped away from something that has been a very integral and important part of my life for the past several years. I'm talking about being on the InScribe executive. I didn't make the decision lightly. I have been a member for over a decade. I got involved early, volunteering behind the scenes in various capacities until I found myself on the executive, first as VP and then as President for the past three years. (Since the fall of 2018.)

During that time, I made genuine friendships and connections that I know will last a lifetime. It was wonderful (and eye-opening) to be part of the inner workings of such a group. However, my ongoing health issues made me realize that something had to give, and I knew it was time to let go.

After this year's Fall Conference and AGM I felt relieved. Being president of such an amazing organization was a great honour and I grew as a person and writer. However, it was a ton of work, too. Your executive give and give and give again of themselves in so many ways that most members never see. So yes, I did breathe a sigh of relief. Still, I also felt an initial emptiness that surprised me.

Working behind the scenes with InScribe has been such a big part of my life these past several years. It has taken a lot of my attention, time, and energy. I am looking forward to the extra time I will have to focus on other aspects of my life. It is necessary for my health, and I also believe it is in God's perfect timing. But I realize that stepping away from my involvement at the executive level is a loss. It's another layer of my 'identity' that I am leaving behind, so it's natural that I may feel a bit empty or melancholy for a time...

And that's okay.

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1 (KJV)

May God continue to bless each of you and may He guide our new executive in the coming year!


Tracy Krauss
is past president of InScribe, but continues to write and work from her home in northern BC. Visit her website for more: fiction on the edge without crossing the line. https://tracykrauss.com

October 14, 2021

October Mid-Month Moments by Connie Inglis

 Mid-Month Moments

This past Sunday/Monday we had a major thunder/wind storm in Edmonton. Then yesterday I had to head downtown for an appointment. As I was walking along, I noticed a broken umbrella jutting out of a concrete garbage can, with another one strewn beside it on the sidewalk. Ironically, the scene stopped me in my tracks; I actually made a note on my phone right then and there. For some reason all I could think of was a story I used to read to my children called, "Tear-water Tea" by Arnold Lobel. Are any of you familiar with it?

It's the story of an owl who has a craving for tear-water tea. So he sits down with a tea kettle on his lap and he starts thinking of things that make him sad. Things like: "chairs with broken legs" and "mornings nobody saw because everybody was sleeping." And here I added: Discarded umbrellas that couldn't withstand the Edmonton winds.

In the story, the owl starts to cry; he cries until the kettle is filled with his tears. Then he puts the kettle on to boil for tea. As he sits down to drink his tea, he feels happy and says, "It tastes a little bit salty...but tear-water tea is always very good."

Cute little story but in that moment I knew it held a profound spiritual truth.

In John 16: 33 (NLT) Jesus said, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."

In this life, we all see/struggle with trials and sorrows, with overwhelming circumstances or strained near-impossible relationships that make us sad--make us cry. We will all have nights spent filling our kettles with tears. That is part of being human in a broken world--even Jesus understood that.

However, that is only one half of the story IF our trust in God is real--if we can rest in WHO HE IS, the great I AM THAT I AM--our Father, Creator, Sustainer, Lover of our souls, and our Overcomer.

Romans 5:1-5 speaks into this (I'm quoting The Living Bible paraphrase):

So now, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith in his promises, we can have real peace with him because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 For because of our faith, he has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to actually becoming all that God has had in mind for us to be. 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to be patient. 4 And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us trust God more each time we use it until finally our hope and faith are strong and steady. 5 Then, when that happens, we are able to hold our heads high no matter what happens and know that all is well, for we know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Verse 4 says, "And patience develops strength of character in us and helps us TRUST GOD MORE..." Isn't that what our desire should always be? To trust God more? It is what His desire is for us.

I'm sure we all have a kettle full of tears. But can we take that kettle, offer it to God and let Him turn it into something good? Can we trust that He will turn our ashes into beauty, our mourning into dancing, our spirit of despair into a garment of praise? (Isa. 61:3) Can we trust Him to make tear-water tea out of our lives?

My prayer for us this morning is that we can say, "YES! Yes, I can trust my God to do this." But if you honestly can't say this today then I pray for you too. I pray that you will go to God in honesty and tell God how you feel. And that in humility you will say, "God, help my unbelief." He will answer that prayer too--because His relentless love NEVER runs out for any of us, no matter how many times we return to Him with doubt. May we not doubt His forgiveness and His power to help us trust Him more.

Learning to trust,

Connie

P.S. For any interested, here's the website for the pdf of "Tear-water Tea": http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/tear-water-tea.pdf

July 26, 2017

Mid-Month Moments are past devotionals written by Connie Inglis that she shared each week when she was InScribe's spiritual advisor. (Originally called 'Mid-Week Moments') They are shared from her archives with permission in the middle of each month. 

October 13, 2021

Interruption or Red Carpet Appointment? by Wendy L. Macdonald


 

Although the prompt for this month asked us, “How has a ‘divine interruption’ rocked your world?’ I want to share something on a much smaller scale that recently happened to me. I’ve written about a humungous interruption/blessing to my writing life before, but this time I want to address what more and more spouses are experiencing these days due to retirements and work from home requirements.

The incident I’m referring to happened one morning when I had a longer than usual writing to-do list sitting in front of me. It was early morning and I had already downed my coffee and spent a delicious hour with Jesus, His Word, and my journal. It was time for me to open my Word Docs and do the next thing. 

That’s when my husband informed me, he wasn’t feeling well. He said he wasn’t sure if he was coming down with something as he hadn’t slept well. He didn’t want to push himself and potentially risk spreading a virus (We won’t mention which one we were nervous of as I’m sure you’re as sick of that five-letter word as I am.).

Normally I inwardly groan when my writing routine is potentially going to be rerouted. I’m ashamed to admit how selfish I am about my alone time. But I’m also pleased to report that because of someone else’s productive writing time, I had just completed reading a book about the very situation I found myself in.

Instead of looking downcast when he mentioned he was staying home, I rolled out the red carpet and smiled, “Feel free to visit me anytime you want today. I’ll make us lunch and then we can have coffee together afterwards.” 

I gave him a hug and freshened up the bed so it would be extra cozy for him if he needed to go back to sleep.

Wow, the book I read really helped me roll out the red.

With sincere joy I pampered my man and made him feel like a blessing instead of an interruption to my writing life. Amazingly I got through my to-do list with only one thing leftover. And I completed an extra item. (The next day I finished the final thing on the list. It was my latest newsletter that ended up being changed so that I could include this story in it. When you come across inspiration that makes you a better person, it’s not something you want to keep to yourself. There’s nothing better than sharing good news.) 

   After lunch my husband felt pretty much as good as new, so he waited in our vehicle while I mailed some prizes for my latest newsletter giveaway. Then we went to the beach and watched storm waves from the shelter of our car. We laughed so much together all afternoon that my daughter said, “Get married already, would you?” (We celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary on August 19.) 

I’m nosy-to-know about a time you allowed God to turn an interruption into a red carpet appointment.

And in case you’re curious as to which book, I was talking about, here it is: Spouse in the House by Cynthia Ruchti and Becky Melby. Here’s my review of it on GoodReads.  

Red Carpet Blessings ~ Wendy Mac

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV

October 11, 2021

Life Interrupted by Carol Harrison


I’ve had many dreams and plans, like everyone else. Yet I’ve experienced times when my world has been rocked by something huge which I never planned on or desired. Life’s forward progress, at least in my own mind, had been interrupted.

The latest one came with a name—cancer. The diagnosis that brings fear and necessitates change. It rocked our world and affected not only my spouse who had the disease but myself as I walked the journey with him. Then treatments forced it into submission. Forever we hoped and as years passed it receded to a niggle of ‘what if it returns’ dwelling deep in the recesses of our minds. We began making plans for after my husband retired. We began to live our ‘real life’ once again.

Then, when we thought it conquered and vanquished it jumped out to fight again. This time treatment options dwindled to nothing and we grieved what was and what might still be. Pain increased and activity levels decreased. More scary words entered our lives. Chronic infection. Metastasized. Palliative. They linger close by, never far from our minds. We watched life as we knew it slip away, plans for retirement with them.

How do we deal with this new normal? To be truthful, I’m not always sure. We live the truth of the diagnosis. Him with the pain. Me with watching him hurt and feeling helpless. We wait. Him for the next pain meds or the next time its better enough to visit with family and friends. The next good day or part of one. The next opportunity to make a new memory. But along with that is the waiting for it to spread more and for death to replace the pain with heaven. I wait for the other proverbial shoe to fall and limit plans yet again.

Together we grieve for what has been lost as a couple and individually along with all of our dreams and plans for this stage of our lives. Together we live one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. We muddle through, trusting God for strength enough for now. I try and be present in the moment looking for those little things to be grateful for, watching for God-moments though out it all.

In John 16 Jesus teaches his disciples things I need to pay attention to as well. In verse 33 he says, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  Jesus never promised me that our family could avoid interruptions to our plans, a lack of pain, or horrible diagnoses to deal with. But he promised peace which can only come through him because he has overcome it all. Nothing takes him by surprise. Not the diagnosis. Not the pain. Not the change of plans or the grief.  When I give it all to Jesus, he will use it to draw us closer to him. We’ll grow more and more like Jesus.

I read this quote by C.S. Lewis “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own’, or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day.” Real life is full of divine interruptions, some of which are extremely difficult.

What have I learned though these last few years when my life has been rocked by interruptions to my plans? I must pause. Caregiving and watching a person you love hurt is exhausting. Our world turned upside down with these changes. But God never changes.

Psalm 46: 10 is printed out and sits on my desk. “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.”

Time to pause, listen, reflect on the lessons I am learning. Obey God to continue to be compassionate, trust him, and write. The words might be just what someone else needs to read and be encouraged. My husband continues to urge me to go and write. It keeps me from dwelling on what has been lost and refocuses my thoughts on being a good steward of the gift God has entrusted to me.

Divine interruptions are part of my everyday life just like they are in others. Hold my plans loosely for God’s plan is greater than I can ever understand.  

 

Carol Harrison lives in Saskatoon with her husband. She loves to tell encourage people to help them find glimmers of hope and glimpses of joy even in the seasons where our life has been rocked to the core.

October 10, 2021

Divine Interruptions, caution—fun and laughter ahead - Martina Keast

 Part 1: A conversation with Jesus

Martina, join Me in a dance. Let's celebrate your victory. Courage is flowing; true wisdom and revelation are running your way. Join Me, put your pen down. 

The songs you are listening to are not for twisting and shaking. They are for opening your heart to faith and trust. Let’s listen to something else. 

Yes, this dancing to celebration music was beautiful; now please find your notes on dancing with Markus’ course called Deep Play.

Before every training exercise, I pray to Jesus, surrender my creative gift to Him, and trust the heavenly, imaginative flow. The day I participated in the online course called Deep Play, offered through zoom, there was much construction happening in my building. A two-year project of balcony removal and suite extension was in full swing. I had difficulty concentrating on the instructions Dr. Markus was giving us. Dr. Markus asked us to breathe, sit in what we notice going on around us, and then express what is happening. We did this for a few moments. On the outside of myself, I noticed the noise and the chaos, while I felt peace on the inside of me. My inner self was in the eye of the storm. Despite the noise, I walked and danced, paying attention to what my body felt like doing. As always, I went off-camera for this exercise, too embarrassed for my lack of theatrical ability. Once again--like many times before--I was astonished how the concept of low skill and high sensitivity fits for me. Dr. Markus asked us to dance in what we found ourselves rooted in; I addressed the construction noise. I pretended to have a saw, a hammer, and an electric screwdriver in my hand.

I improvised a choreography out of construction chaos and movement. I danced with the imaginary tools. I created this choreography myself, and I made the music up as I went along. 

Saw: First, one arm moved back and forth like a saw, then the other, then both arms together moved like a saw. Then I twisted my body, laughing hysterically. 

Hammer: First, I used my right hand like a hammer, then the left hand, then I hammered with both hands, then suddenly, I was drumming. This was very emotional for me; I used to be a drummer. I should say I am a drummer without opportunities to play. I cried because I miss playing drums and being part of a band. Then I just had fun. 

The electric screwdriver: First, I used the right hand holding the imaginary screwdriver, and made the sound bzbzbzbz, then the other hand bzbzbzbzbz and finally, I pretended to use two electric screwdrivers with both hands, at the same time, moving in dance, up and up. Bzbzbzbzbzbz

Suddenly, I was twisting and dancing. I laughed and had an incredible sense of fun and satisfaction. Now it’s your turn. 1


Part 2: On a serious note 
2

As in all training, I pray to Jesus before engaging in any exercises. 

Part of expressive art invites us to embrace and trust the flow. We create what we see in our mind’s eye. 3 We don’t worry about whether we create a perfect picture. It’s about the expression. 

I painted this dancer with oil pastels. Again, perfection not required. 

Then, as instructed, I asked the painting to say I am … 

Inner Child
I am twirls and swirls. Stuck in your vision.
I constantly twirl and swirl. Wanting to move your body. 
Your feet are firmly grounded. Stuck in your vision.
I want you to be moving, twirling, swirling, dancing, loving life. 

The Older One
I release the foggy uncertainty and trust this vision. 
I am lighter on my feet, moving with this body. 
As I embrace the care and nurture and trust the movement,
I expand my play range, ability, and joy with movement. 

Inner Child
When I am trapped, I sometimes experience panic attacks and temper tantrums. 
I want to play, move, and dance. 
Release me, please. 

What comes up? 
I am the moment before the jump-start.  4
I am waiting to connect with my inner self before I called her all those names. 
I shut her out years ago. I was so unsure. I couldn’t use my long, tall, beautiful body. 
My vision was, Martina, you are fat, tall, and ugly. 


These are not words Jesus describes me with. He loves me, and He is always encouraging me, to dance. I remember the days when I ran through the camp of what fun we had at our charismatic church. I used to clap, sing, dance. 
Now I dance as an expressive artist who listens to Jesus and follows His invitation: Dance with Me, child. Dance with Me. 

Name it: Freedom Dancer
Claim it: Shifts. 
Aim it: Go live your changed life. 
5


____________
Footnotes
1. A reader’s response. I love this statement—I found stillness in the chaos of construction—it's incredible. Another reader’s response: I love how you are so free and childlike – in your response to the tools and the dancing and taking God’s words to another level. I know God has to be delighted in you and how you respond to Him.

2. Florida Institute of Expressive Art. The Magical Child. With Dr. Markus Scott Alexander. May 2, 2021. 

3. I am referring to the spiritual inner eye that each Christian has. I pray to Jesus, and I read the Bible. 
 
4.Julia Cameron warns, "By setting the jumps too high and making the price tag too great, the recovering artist sets defeat in motion." (Cameron, 2016, p. 141)

5. A reader’s response: This is so beautiful. The movement is lovely, and it so brings home the point that the Lord is playful and fun, and He wants to interact in that way as well. The Lord told me to dance with Him as well, several times, and when I do – even when it's just fun stuff - it's so intimate it's incredible. I read the poem several times because there is so much in it, from pain and bondage to freedom and oneness with Him in big open spaces. 



October 09, 2021

We are Not Alone by Steph Beth Nickel


August 7, 1982 ... Dave's and my wedding day!

August 7, 2021 ... Our second son's wedding day!

And it wasn't even intentional—at least not from a human perspective.

Originally, Joshua and Ericka chose the date because it worked for Nathanial, my firstborn, and his wife. (They didn't realize it was our 39th anniversary.) However—COVID. Need I say more?

Travel from Scotland to Canada was a no-go.

And so, J & E decided on a super small ceremony and will, hopefully, be able to celebrate with far more people in a couple of years.

In the midst of all the upheaval of the last 19 months, there has been good too. Weddings, like my son and new daughter-in-law's. Births, like the little one who was born in March 2020, whom I got to meet the night she arrived. Dedications, like that same little girl's, a service I was able to attend just a few weeks ago.

All of these things—and so many more—have reminded me that we're not alone.

When I sat on my couch thinking how surreal this all is—I was not alone.

When I slept far more than ever before—I was not alone.

When I was cut off from family and friends—I was not alone.

When social media became a battleground—we were not alone.

When the news made us shake our heads and question how we could be so hateful toward one another—we were not alone.

When "going to church" meant sitting in front of the television watching a livestream produced by people who had never done so before—we were not alone.

A few months back, my hubby and I (along with several others) helped friends move. As a thank you, the wife, a precious friend of mine, gave me a hug. 

A hug. Can you imagine?

That hug woke something in me that had been dormant since Spring 2020. 

That hug reminded me that we need authentic connection. We were created for it.

It reminded me that God's love flows through the arms of a friend, even one we don't see for months at a time.

It reminded me that, despite everything that has come our way since March 2020, we're not alone.

If you're feeling hopeless and helpless—please know that you are not alone.

If you're feeling tired and worn out—please know that you are not alone.

If you're feeling like you need to see some of that good we talked about and experience hope—please know that you are not alone.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV) (emphasis mine)


October 06, 2021

At The End Of The World by Bob Jones

 


Three words rocked our world. They weren’t unexpected.

 

She has cancer.

 

“It’s in her spleen, stomach, kidneys, and it looks like some spots on her lungs. I’m so sorry.” The ultrasound confirmed our worst fears. My wife and I couldn’t look at each other. The drive  home was in heavy silence. We knew the next 24 hours would change everything. What are we going to do? How do we tell our boys? Why did it have to come to this? Again.

 

Anyone who has never allowed a dog to become a part of the family won’t understand or appreciate the devastation of a terminal diagnosis. Lord knows, it’s just a dog. I mean no disrespect to those who suffered the loss of a loved one or face a terminal diagnosis. 


Anne Lamott is one of my favourite writers. Her dog died on October 4th. She wrote, "My beautiful pal passed away yesterday at home. She had (somehow) gotten old. She was the perfect person and had the most beautiful smile. It is the end of the world and I feel that I will never have a moment’s happiness again. You may know the feeling. Sigh."

 

"The end of the world."  Couldn't say it better. This was the third time with the exact same diagnosis. All were Golden Retrievers. They had names - Tammy. Sprite. Silver. Each one had a unique personality. All were love on four legs.

 

Ironically, when Jocelyn was diagnosed with cancer her despair wasn’t nearly as intense as when three of our dogs were stricken with cancer. We had to put each one down. The drive to the clinic was like walking down death row. Meeting with a vet drove up the anxiety level in each of our dogs and they were never happier than when we left a clinic to go home. Silver had no idea she was not coming out of the clinic alive. A few last moments alone with her in the vet’s treatment room allowed all the memories to flood in. The puppy training, balls to fetch, leashes, cuddling on the floor, the first time leaping into a lake, road trips, dog slobber. Just a few months before Silver's life came to an end, she travelled with us from Edmonton to cottage country in Ontario. It was a family vacation in the truest sense of the word.


 

The night before Silver’s last day was spent in the living room together. The leather couch was off limits for her except that night. There wasn’t much sleeping. With first light, she got her favourite treats. The struggle to get them down assured us we were making the right decision on her behalf. That didn’t make the decision any easier.

 

We didn’t get another puppy. That’s not a choice for everyone, but for us we couldn’t and still can’t bring ourselves to face the same outcome. We find our joy in other people’s dogs for now.

 

When a parent, spouse, child or someone close to us dies, our loss is usually met with sympathy, comfort, and sincere condolences. We are allowed to grieve. We are allowed to cry. We are encouraged to experience our emotions.

 

But pet owners who have had a terminally ill dog euthanized hear quite a different story. Many will tell you that most people did not understand the depth of their grief. Some even experienced the gross insensitivity of a comment like, “Why don’t you just get another pet?”

 

We didn’t just lose a pet. We lost unconditional love. Our Goldens gave us emotional responses that were uninhibited by concern for how their expression appeared to others. They did not judge insecurity or imperfection. They were all-accepting in ways few humans can achieve.

 

In many ways, Jocelyn lost a confidante. Silver allowed Jocelyn to express parts of herself that she never let friends see. During a period of upheaval and trauma, Silver provided Jocelyn with security, stability and comfort. Her neck was a safe place to shed tears.

 

Our Goldens were gifts from God. Creatures made in the Creator’s image and in many ways, reflective of the unconditional love and grace of God. Don't tell my pastoral superiors, but I believe all dogs go to heaven. We were guarded in talking about pet grief. Now, we share our gratitude for the love we experienced and a listening ear for those going  through a similar grief.

 

How about you?  Has your world been rocked by the death of a four-legged family member?  Lean into the grief. Reach out for comfort. Bob.pb.jones@gmail.com


 I write to grow hope, inspire people to be real, forge an authentic faith in Jesus, and discover their life purpose.

Please follow my writing at REVwords.com

I would love to hear from you.

October 04, 2021

Interruptions Have Purpose by Susan Barclay

 "God shakes us so that the things that can't be shaken will remain." ~Linda Bevere

When heaven touches earth, nothing stays the same.

I don't know about you, but I'm happiest when things are running along evenly, hakuna matata. No worries, no problems. Problems? Who needs 'em?

The thing is though, as long as the sailing is smooth, we tend to take life, and God, for granted. We can keep on the path without seeking God's Word to light it, we can fail to praise God for the blessings we enjoy, we can skip prayer because, hey, everything's going our way! 

But God loves us too much to let us continue along the merry road of ease. He wants us to grow, He wants us to know Him, He wants us to turn to Him, He wants us to become more like His Son (who, for the record, experienced greater suffering than we will ever know), and He wants us to develop compassion for others so we can come alongside them with empathy and understanding. And so He gives us divine interruptions to accomplish His purposes.

The Bible offers us example after example of those who experienced divine interruptions. There's the example of Job, a godly man who didn't lack closeness with God, but who still had his beautiful life disrupted by many sorrows. Unknown to him, his story would be an encouragement to many through the centuries, a reminder that we have an enemy who attacks us because we belong to God, that we need to stand firm in our faith and our knowledge of God's character, that sometimes there are greater purposes in our trials than what we can see on the surface. From him we learn our rightful position under God: He is greater, His thoughts and ways are not ours, we are completely dependent on Him for everything. We also see that "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the former part" (Job 42:12a). In very tangible ways, God repays him "for the years the locusts have eaten" (Joel 2:25a). At the end, Job is also a better man. His faith is proven and he is even more humble than when he began.

There's the example of Jonah, the prophet who ran away when God sent him to preach judgement to the Ninevites. Jonah didn't want to go because he knew that God was a God of mercy and would forgive the enemies of Jonah's people, the Jews, if they repented of their evil ways. But God thwarted Jonah's escape by sending a huge storm on the sea, then planting him in the belly of a whale before having him spit up on the shore. Talk about a divine interruption! Jonah went to Nineveh reluctantly, did the job God sent him to do, and was filled with anger and bitterness when God acted exactly as he'd expected in response to Nineveh's contrition. We don't know how Jonah responded to God's rebuke at the end of Jonah chapter 4, but I like to think that like Job, Jonah was humbled by the truth of God's Word to him: people made in God's image and whom He loves are worth more than the lives of plants that have no souls. I like to think that Jonah went forward with greater care and compassion for fellow human beings and that wherever God sent him thereafter, he went willingly, eager to see what God would do.

There's the example of Saul, a most excellent Jew, who thought he was doing the right thing - God's work - in persecuting and killing Christians. He thought he was doing the right thing, that is, until a divine interruption on the road to Damascus, where he was struck blind and had a powerful encounter with the risen Christ. Jesus sends him into Damascus to meet Ananais who restores his sight and where he is filled with the Holy Spirit. Without this supernatural intrusion in his life, Saul would have gone on killing believers; instead he became Paul, God's "chosen instrument to proclaim [the name of Christ] to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel" (Acts 9:15b) and gave us many of the books of our New Testament. He suffered much for the cause of Christ but there is no turning back for one who has had his or her life so dramatically transformed by the gospel.

I've had my own experience of what I would call divine interruptions in the last few years. I've shared them before but I'll share them again, briefly, for new readers or those who need reminding. Both of my children have left the path of Life to follow the world and its pleasures; both of them have boomeranged in and out of our home at one time or another; my mom has had several health issues and been staying with me and my husband for well over a year now. At the moment both my daughter and my mom are with us and that's a dynamic that doesn't always play nicely in the sandbox.

Is there anything more important to us than the people God put closest to us to love? Anything more likely to press us into Him through prayer? My husband and I are certainly more in prayer and the Word than we have ever been. And God has been growing us as we remain firm on our foundation of faith, providing others on similar journeys to walk alongside us. We rejoice in what God is going to do and are confident that He is working behind the scenes even as He was working in Job's life, in Jonah's, and in Paul's. We will not be moved by what we see, but remain fixed on His promises, sure of His character and goodness.

Honestly, I hope that whatever God has for us in these occurrences, we learn from them what we need to, are pruned in the ways we need pruning, keep those things that need keeping, and get rid of those things that are holding us back. May we "[r]un in such a way as to get the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24b).

___________________________________

For more about Susan Barclay and her writing, please visit www.susan-barclay.blogspot.com

October 03, 2021

A Path Interrupted - By Lynn J Simpson

With my faithful blue back pack that carried my camera within, I walked on the familiar path. My plan was to reach the pond on the western side of a provincial park I had visited many times before. However, it was a cool spring that year. Rounding a shaded corner my walk was interrupted by ice capped snow that covered the pathway. I slipped, and was unable to continue walking upright. Stubbornly I crouched, hoping I could crawl myself to my wanted destination. Soon I resigned my plans and turned back, discouraged and saddened that I wouldn't be able to complete the journey I'd set out for myself.

But when I reached my starting point, I kept on, walking an easterly route I had never taken before. Soon I found myself at the edge of a boardwalk. I unzipped my jacket and removed my gloves noticing how the mid-morning sun shined on the wooden slats of the boardwalk and lit the tips of the surrounding cattails. I walked steadily, navigating easily the bends and curves of this newly discovered pathway. I rested on a bench. I quietly watched a pair of Canada geese walk easily on the frozen pond.


If my regular route had not been interrupted by ice, I would not have discovered the place on the other side of the park. Often I can get so caught up in the familiar that I don't see that there might be another way, even a better way, to navigate my places and situations. Sometimes it may take a complete roadblock before I turn to look another way. Then I discover something better than I expected. 

It reminds me too, how the disciples thought Jesus' power would be the path to conquer the Romans. But the path was in the opposite direction, wasn't it? The disciples familiar path to conquer with power and war was interrupted by Jesus' death on the cross. The path to their freedom came in an unexpected but much more better way. The path to freedom came through Jesus' great sacrifice.  

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver and gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 2:18-19

Is there a pathway you are turning on to go His Way? Or a familiar path that has been interrupted and you are no longer sure of the way? May you rest in knowing the unexpected path can lead to the unexpected and the better Way....

You can find more of Lynn's writing and photography at Lynn J Simpson.

October 01, 2021

When You Encounter Interruptions by Sandi Somers

Interruptions stop us...

We’re all familiar with interruptions.

They may be small interruptions: a phone call or text message or visitor at our door while we're trying to write. A friend who wants our attention when we’re busy. Someone who interjects their own opinions while we’re speaking. These interruptions can detract us from the focus/task at hand.

Interruptions may be of intermediate seriousness. This summer I was mentally drained from taking writing courses with their demands of weekly assignments, longer essays, and lots of reading. So from May to August I couldn’t write. The ideas didn’t come. Sometimes I felt I had lost four months of writing time.

However, major, life-changing interruptions out of our control can rock our world —and shatter our daily life, our hopes, and dreams.

Last year Tracy Krauss spent time in the hospital with continuing health issues, and over the year she was forced to scale back her responsibilities. “Limitations are my new realities,” she wrote.

Nina Faye Morey’s life was interrupted last year when her husband passed away. Unfortunately, it washed away all those familiar roads in my life, leaving me to tread a lonely and solitary path through the wilderness,” she wrote.

Katie Gerke, one of our occasional bloggers, has written how MS has robbed her of most of her mobility and dreams for the future. And now in the last two months, she has been in and out of the hospital, including in ICU, dealing with various health issues (but not Covid so far). Over her years with MS, she has dealt with debilitating pain and weariness, isolation, and sometimes overwhelming sadness.

When we are interrupted, we may at first be disoriented. Bewildered. Angry. What we thought were our next plans have been halted; something or someone we love is lost with nothing to replace it, nowhere to go.

“The major problem of life is learning how to handle the costly interruptions,” wrote Martin Luther King. “The door that slams shut, the plan that got sidetracked, the marriage that failed. Or that lovely poem that didn’t get written because someone knocked on the door.”

Yet often these are God's interruptions that come from His love. They come for a purpose and plan. “My whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted until I discovered the interruptions were my work,” Henri Nouwen wrote near the end of his life.

During this time God may bring us to a place of complete dependency on Himself, a place where he shows us his tenderness. He speaks comfort, promise of his presence and rest. "I will make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope", He says (Hosea 2:15)

I learned this summer that “to everything there is a season” (Eccl 3:1). What appeared to be an interruption to my writing was an intervention. God knew I needed time to rest, to turn my attention to other things…beside writing…working in my yard and garden, taking long walks (the outdoors always rejuvenates me), catching up on visiting family and friends when Covid restrictions eased, and relaxing with God in the early morning. Finally as August progressed, I felt writing sparks began to flicker.

Tracy discovered a door of hope as she wrote: “As God continues to give me clarity about what I am to be doing right now in this stage of my life, I cannot continue to look back and long for how it used to be.” But she adds that God still has a plan and purpose for her, “I have more books to write, grandchildren to snuggle, people to encourage, and interceding to do, but perhaps not at the same pace.” 

Nina absorbed meaningful quotes on grief and thoughts from scriptures, which she shared with us. To restore some semblance of normalcy, she began to write again, also knowing that “creative activities are positive ways to cope with negative feelings and emotions.” She also looks forward to being reunited with her husband and meeting Jesus one day. 

Katie finds God’s hidden treasures as she lives with MS. She wrote that especially in her darkest days, “God shows Himself in light, so brilliant and breathtaking that I will take it and tuck it in my heart so I can use it ‘as a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’” Psalm 119:105.

“Interruptions (are) God's appointments." Debbie Macomber

And now it’s your opportunity.  

 How can you grapple with CS Lewis’ advice: “The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life – the life God is sending one day by day”?

How has God shown Himself to you in these interruptions?

Has your interruption turned into an opportunity—if so, how?