July 31, 2021

How Do You Find Rest and Peace? By Sandi Somers

 

Image by Reddit.com

The story is told of a contest in which the artists were to paint “perfect peace”. Of the many paintings submitted, the judge liked only two. One picture was of a calm lake, perfectly mirroring peaceful towering mountains and a blue sky.

The other picture was of a dark angry sky filled with flashes of lightning. Down the side of the mountain gushed a foaming waterfall. Peering closely, the judge noticed behind the surging water a tiny bush. There a mother bird sat secure on her nest. The judge chose this picture. “Because,” he explained, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.” *

Don’t we long for peace and rest, free from heavy responsibilities and worries? Time to relax and renew our spirits? God does give us these needed times. Even Jesus told His disciples: “Let us go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31).

However, Scriptures focus more on resting amid storms and burdens. “Come to Me, all you who are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest,” Jesus said (Matthew 11:28).

How can we find that rest?

I can sometimes get tied in knots with worry. Several years ago I was pressured with too many duties and worried about how I would accomplish everything. My devotional reading one morning mentioned a woman who felt the same way—pressured, worried, and exhausted. The Lord whispered to her, “It's not all the work that’s wearing you down, it’s your worries.” (I don’t remember the wisdom or advice God gave her.)

I went on my prayer walk, knowing full well that God didn’t need to remind me of my worries. But what would He say? Hardly had I gone two blocks when He quietly outlined the next steps to break down my projects into manageable pieces. I walked home refreshed and began tackling the next things. I discovered that when we bring our worries to God, He gives us His word: a promise or direction or how to restfully handle our dilemmas. And then we can go on.

Several InScribe bloggers last year also gave us an insight into their agitated spirits and how they found rest and peace.

Sharon Espeseth shared what God was teaching as she cared for her husband. “We may not have all the answers about Hank’s ill health, but we are thankful for what we have.” And then Sharon listed eleven points for praise and thanks—(a “must-read”)! She knew then that giving thanks clears our minds from debilitating fear of the unknown and gives us patience and a rested heart.

 When Alan Anderson chose “Rest” for his word of 2020, he posed the question: “What is the answer to all this weariness, this reality of being ‘heavy laden?’ Is there an answer?”

 Later in the year he wrote that he was tired, tired, tired. Admitting his weariness, the Lord’s gentle words reminded him of his deep need for Jesus’ promised rest. “This is not an elusive emotional longing, but a stated result of an honest heart after God,” he added. As a writer, Alan found emotional healing and rest when he wrote, giving hope to others in their own grief and hardship. Alan illustrated the principle that doing something engaging and interesting releases our minds and bodies from weariness and tensions. Endorphins pour into our bodies and bring about euphoria and well-being. They help us relax, release energy and productivity. And then we can move forward, fulfilling part of God’s purposes for us.

Pam Mytroen shared: “The stress from my job and family situations had been building like black angry clouds, and swirling into tornadoes of anxiety. After much prayer, the Lord showed me that I was trying to meet everyone's expectations, which was impossible. He showed me that I needed a new mind-set.”

She began to stop thinking about the “what ifs” of job difficulties, to let go of unrealistic expectations, to accept that she can't be perfect and please everyone, to stop worrying about her family, and to be thankful instead. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2), Paul said. Brain science is now catching up to what God told us those millennia ago—developing new patterns of thinking regrooves the brain and nervous system with new patterns. But it takes time. Pam added,“Switching one set of thoughts for another takes self-discipline. I am amazed at the freedom and the space in my mind that was once taken up by stress and anxiety.” 

My prayer for you is that you’ll discover Jesus’ rest from worries, tiredness, and people’s expectations. Rest to a new mindset, thankfulness, and new steps in God’s purposes for you.

 What is it for you?

How has the Lord come to you when you’ve been burdened? What has he taught that you can pass on to others who are careworn?

Or perhaps now you’re struggling with an issue and the Lord is challenging you to enter into rest (Hebrews 4:11). What are you learning?

How do God’s promises in Matthew 11:28-30 (or other scriptures/insights) give you peace and rest in what you have faced and/or are facing?

Tell us your story.

 

(*Note: This story of a mother bird on her nest in a storm is only one of a number of variations I’ve read.)  

July 29, 2021

Fall Conference - Don't Miss It!

Registration for InScribe's Fall Conference is open! We are very excited that this year's event will be back at Providence Renewal Centre in Edmonton and will be in person! However, for those who can't travel or who live far away, there is also a virtual option. Check the website for details: https://inscribe.org/events/fall-conference


There is also still time to submit your entry to the Fall Contest, including a 'published' category: https://inscribe.org/contests/fall-contest



July 28, 2021

The Guess Who: "The Key" - Bruce Atchison

Summer reading? Who has time? I find that the only book I read with regularity is the Bible.

Holy Scripture is one wonderful place for inspiration. Canadian Group The Guess Who certainly felt inspired enough to sing about various characters in the Bible, as you can hear on this song.

In my personal life, I admire Gideon. He wasn't from any popular or mighty family and tribe. He was just a person chosen by God to liberate Israel during the time of the judges.

When the angel of the Lord came to Gideon, he felt inadequate for the task he was called to do. As Judges 6:15 (Bible in Basic English) says, "And he said to him, 'O Lord, how may I be the saviour of Israel? See, my family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house.'"

But instead of chiding Gideon, the Angel said in verse sixteen, "Then the Lord said to him, Truly, I will be with you, and you will overcome the Midianites as if they were one man."

I relate to other misunderstood and underestimated people in Scripture too. Christians down through the ages called one Disciple "Doubting Thomas." But we read his declaration of Christ's divinity in John 20:27 and 28 (BBE). "Then he said to Thomas, 'Put out your finger, and see my hands; and put your hand here into my side: and be no longer in doubt but have belief.' And Thomas said in answer, 'My Lord and my God!'"

And having read the accounts of these faithful saints, I rejoice in the knowledge that we'll meet them in heaven. Revelation 19:9 (BBE) tells us, "And he (the angel) said to me, 'Put in the book, Happy are the guests at the bride-feast of the Lamb.' And he said to me, 'These are the true words of God.'" What a wonderful day that will be!


July 27, 2021

Influence and Ideas by Lorilee Guenter

 

Charlotte's Web, Winnie-The-Pooh, Anne of Green Gables. Louisa may Alcott, J. R. R. Tolkien, Janette Oke. Mystery, biography, science fiction. The list of books, authors and genres I have and do read is immense. My summertime reading list grows each day. I do not read horror and I usually shy away from romance because I do not like the explicit scenes but otherwise it is probably fair game. Reading opens new words and introduces ideas. it has since I sounded out my first words. I learned words have the power to captivate, to inform and to transform. They have power to report and transport, to encourage or discourage. Words have power and why should this surprise any of us since The Word created the world and has enabled writer's to create worlds of imagination.


I did not and do not hesitate to call myself a reader. Books, essays, magazines, they surround me as my to be read pile and my have finished reading lists vie for first place in size and scope (but can the to be read pile ever be depleted?). I have and do hesitate to call myself a writer even though my to type and to edit piles grow. To be a writer requires I acknowledge that my words when put together as essays, stories and poems have the power to build up or tear down. A misplaced word can change the context and cause a reader to stumble and tumble away from The Truth or to reach and to cling to The One who informs and infuses our words when we let Him. It is a huge responsibility. Thankfully it is not ours alone. Each time I pick up a new book to read I immerse myself in the words and worlds of another writer's imagination and influences. 


If the Holy Spirit is prompting and empowering, do I not stumble along in rebellion if I refuse? Do I let fear overwhelm faith when I put down my pen and pick up distraction? I wonder how many books could have been but aren't because other writer's have done as I do and questioned the need to, and their ability to share their words. So with hesitation and interruption I continue to return to this label. I am a writer. Through my words the Holy Spirit, with The Word can teach or challenge as I encourage or entertain those who read them. As the knights in stories I've read do, I pick up mu ink filled sword to slay the dragon of fear in hopes others will follow my lead and pick up their swords (in whatever form they have been given them). 

2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give you a spirit of fear (timidity), but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.

After a bit of editing, I will pick up that next book on my pile to read because I am not alone and I still like to get lost in the imagination of others. I am thankful for the many authors who I have reading and am reading. Their influences are many. Their numbers (including the ones just this summer) are numerous.


July 24, 2021

Revisiting Old Friends ~ Valerie Ronald



 Relaxing outside in a lawn chair, I watch a bumble bee buzz its way from colorful flower to flower in the nearby garden. It visits various blooms, lingering on some longer than others, gathering bright yellow dots of pollen on its legs as it goes. The way it meanders leisurely and randomly among the flowers reminds me of how I read my way through the summer. Dipping into this book, then that book ˗˗ reading all the way to the end of some, and just skimming through others, collecting treasures as I go. If my books could talk, they would say they are fine with my casual approach, because we are, after all, old friends.

Summer is my time for revisiting old book friends, those that are almost as dear to me as my human friends. Between their worn, familiar covers is a treasury of beloved stories, characters and wisdom I love to visit again and again. I’ve heard it said that readers can be divided into two camps: those who read a book just once and those who re-read a book, sometimes multiple times. My criteria for a book I will return to again is that it must engage my imagination, delight my love of language and teach me something about life, either through story or prose.

Following is a brief introduction to some of my old friends who have given me hours of summer reading pleasure. Perhaps some of them are already your friends too, or this may be your first encounter. I hope you will enjoy getting to know them.

Gentian Hill by Elizabeth Goudge 

This book was my first introduction to the author, who lived and wrote in rural England during the early 20th century. The novel’s quaint richness of language, fully rounded characters and picturesque settings delight my love of all things old and British. However, I am most entranced by the beautifully interwoven story lines with their themes of courage, history and love. I have read Gentian Hill often, finding new wisdom in old legends retold and authenticity in how the lives in each narrative ultimately grow together to make a stronger whole.

I wrote about Elizabeth Goudge in a previous InScribe blog post, linked below.

https://inscribewritersonline.blogspot.com/2020/09/learning-in-shadow-of-two-elizabeths_23.html
 

A Garden to Keep by Jamie Langston Turner 

This novelist’s writing is an acquired taste, with its “stream of consciousness” style jumping from thought to thought within the main character’s mind. Admittedly it took me a while to engage with the story, then I couldn’t put it down. The introspective journey of the main character as she experiences the breakdown of her marriage, resonates with me on many levels. As a writer I am intrigued by how the story moves along in incremental detail while still maintaining suspense and interest. I also appreciate how the main character’s process of coming to faith in Christ is handled in a believable way without being heavy-handed, and has much to do with the satisfying conclusion. I return to this book occasionally because it evokes an empathetic response I need to revisit, for my own heart’s sake.
 

Roots & Sky: a Journey Home in Four Seasons by Christie Purifoy

Reading this book is like coming home to a comfortable old chair by the fire after rambling in the wilderness. In evocative, poetic prose, Purifoy describes how the old house of her dreams becomes home for her heart as well as her family. Through each of the four seasons, she chronicles the first year of loving Maplehurst back to life. While restoring its Victorian farmhouse and overgrown gardens, she undergoes a personal interior restoration. God glows warm in the lowering sun creating rainbows through rippled old glass and in the age-old rituals of planting, weeding and harvesting. She finds a simple rhythm in the pared-down days of caring for her newborn daughter and watching her three older children bloom as she gently introduces them to the liturgy of unstructured play and imagination.

Since I discovered this book several years ago, I have read it through every autumn, the season where the book begins. It reminds me to look for God in the sacred of the ordinary and mark each moment on the pages of my spirit so I will always remember.

Enjoying the Presence of God by Jan Johnson

I confess I am not a fan of “how-to” books, although I will reference them when needed. Jan Johnson has the gift of instructing by coming alongside, saying “this is what I learned in my journey so I share it with you, hoping you will find it helpful.” Returning to her book is a regular habit in my spiritual life now, as it reminds me that being in God’s presence isn’t about duty but about enjoyment. She gives examples of thanksgiving being the atmosphere of our days, of talking to Him in “breath prayers” throughout routine activities, of discovering what His voice sounds like when He speaks to our spirit, and how obeying Him frees us from disappointingly trying to manage our own lives.

The book is Johnson’s own story of finding enjoyment in the presence of God after a long spiritual drought. Her insights, sprinkled with pertinent quotes and examples from other Christian authors, ring true and practical without sounding lofty. I come away from reading it, not overwhelmed by shoulds and musts but encouraged by how simple an enjoyable life with God can be.


These are only a few of my old book friends I love to revisit. There are many more on my bookshelves, waiting for me to peruse their familiar passages and discover new treasures. Like all genuine friendships, they only improve with age. 

 

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. 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

July 23, 2021

Some Books to Spark Your Interest by Joylene M Bailey




~~~~~


"There's nothing like a good murder mystery to settle my stress."

Those words came out of my mouth recently, in the midst of post-pandemic plans and preparation for Babe's wedding. (At this writing, it is two weeks away!)

It's true, I love a cozy murder mystery to calm my nerves. Maybe because, despite the tension in the moment, I know there will be a solid explainable resolution in the last pages. Rhys Bowen, Frances Brody, Louise Penny, Caroline Graham are some of my favourite authors in this genre.

I usually have several books on the go, in different genres, including children's books. Some make me think. Some make me laugh. My favourites are the ones that suspend me in time with their beautiful words. 

~~~~~

In no particular order, here are a few books I'm reading/have read this year that might spark your interest:


If you cannot speak truth at a beheading, when can you speak it? 

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel, third in her series following the life of Thomas Cromwell, was quite an undertaking at just under 900 pages. It begins in May 1536 at Anne Boleyn's demise and ends with Cromwell's own death. I am in awe of this author, who manages to take the reader back in time to the tastes, smells, sights, and sounds of 16th century England. 





~~~~~




God may choose places for us, but he invites us to participate in the making of them, and this participation requires the kind of faith and courage that can look a great deal like foolishness. 

Placemaker by Christie Purifoy

Beautiful, encouraging words on every page. This book is in my top ten of all time favourites.





~~~~~


In Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler, Ira and Maggie are on a road trip to the funeral of an old friend. The entire book takes place in one day, and their conversations are typical of people who have known each other for a long time. It made me laugh out loud so many times. In this excerpt, Maggie's trying to convince Ira to stop at the small town of Cartwheel on the way to the funeral so they can drop in on their ex-daughter-in-law and see their granddaughter. This particular chapter is from Ira's point of view, and he's in the middle of daydreaming about how he always wanted to be a doctor: 

At one point he had figured he might be an orthopedist, because bonesetting was so immediate. Like furniture repair, he had thought. He had imagined that the bone would make a clicking sound as it returned to its rightful place, and the patient's pain would vanish utterly in that very instant.

"Hoosegow," Maggie said.

"Pardon?"

She scooped up her belongings and poured them back in her purse. She set the purse on the floor at her feet.


"The cutoff to Cartwheel," she told him. "Wasn't it something like Hoosegow?"

"I wouldn't have the faintest idea."

"Moose Cow. Moose Lump."

"I'm not going there, whatever it's called," Ira told her.

"Goose Bump."

"I would just like to remind you," he said, "about those other visits. Remember how they turned out?" 


~~~~~




"What is the bravest thing you've ever said?" asked the boy.

"Help," said the horse.  

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

The timeless illustrations draw you in, and the beautiful words will bring you back again and again.



~~~~~



To believe the truth that beauty tells: this is our great
struggle from the depths of our grief. 

To trust the hope it teaches us to hunger toward: this is our fierce battle. 

To craft the world it helps us to imagine: this is our creative, death-defying work. 

Beauty and brokenness told me two different stories about the world. 

I believe Beauty told true. 

This Beautiful Truth by Sarah Clarkson



~~~~~




A Diary of Private Prayer
 by John Baillie is a classic I'd never heard of until this year. First published in 1936, the prayers are organized by morning and evening for thirty days, with special prayers for Sundays. This updated and revised edition by Susanna Wright is composed in a more contemporary style. I'm finding it a beautiful reflective way to begin and end my days.

First Day, Morning: 

Eternal Father of my soul, let my first thought today be of you, let my first impulse be to worship you, let my first word be your Name, let my first action be to kneel before you in prayer. 


~~~~~



Every day you have less reason not to give yourself away.

This Day: Collected and New Sabbath Poems by Wendell Berry

These poems date from 1979 to 2012, and include the poems Wendell Berry wrote on Sundays. In the preface he writes, These poems were written in silence, in solitude, mainly out of doors. A reader will like them best, I think, who reads them in similar circumstances-at least in a quiet room.



~~~~~



Well, there's a rather eclectic mix for you. I have enjoyed all of them and I hope one or two have made you curious to read. 



But right now I think I'll take a break from wedding day table-centres, seating plans, and time charts, and find out who locked Kate Shackleton in the basement. Was it because she's on to the murderer? Could this be the time when the butler actually did it?  





~~~~~



Joy reads and writes and plans weddings from her home in Alberta, where she is living with her husband, aka The Cowboy, very-soon-to-be-married Babe, and 
a dining table full of wedding decor. 
Find more of her words at Scraps of Joy.







July 22, 2021

A Summer of Poetry by Alan Anderson

 


Words jump around,

they mingle in my head,

they keep me awake when I have gone to bed.

They wake me up with a giggle and a “hee hee”

then remind me morning always means coffee.

I tell myself as I think of summer,

without a book, it would be a bummer.

                                by Alan Anderson

 

This summer I am reading, as well as writing poetry. Poetry is the genre I focus on these days, at least for the most part. I mentioned in my February 22, 2021 InScribe blog post how a sleep apnea condition has left me with slight memory and concentration challenges. These challenges persist but I cope well with them, for the most part. The challenges teach me the importance of persistence in my call to write. I need the embrace of poetry these days.

 

My goal to write well means I also want to read well. This summer I am reading A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver. I am also reading and studying a book I love called The Poet’s Companion, by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux. As I read these books, they teach me about the craft of poetry. They also remind me of the love and curiosity I had for poetry and stories I enjoyed as a boy.



 

I remember when I made my way through the obstacles of my life as a young boy, I resonated with certain characters. Do you remember Jack and Jill? Here is a brief look at an experience in their lives. Disclaimer: Even after decades of being read by countless children and adults, this stanza is not for the squeamish.

 

Jack and Jill went up the hill,

To fetch a pail of water;

Jack fell down and broke his crown.

And Jill came tumbling after.

 

I understand this poem later informs readers Jack, and Jill suffered no permanent injuries. As a boy I didn’t know this. For years I wondered if Jack ever went up this hill again. A question about his fall haunted me. Did his crown ever heal or reach a level of repair where he didn’t walk around with a huge bump on his head?

 

I read a story in my childhood still stuck in the recesses of my boyish memory. The story of Hansel and Gretel. Please forgive me if the very mention of the title causes readers to shudder. The story of these two beautiful souls offered me an introduction to horror stories. Oh, my Lord, the thought of the witch and her mean intentions for Hansel and Gretel haunts me. I admit in a similar light the way the witch met her end brings no pleasure to my creative leanings.

 

I share these memories from my childhood to say my imagination remains inspired through poetry and stories to this day. I also see the need to learn more about the craft of writing poetry. This is a reason I enjoy working through A Poetry Handbook and The Poet’s Companion. Books like these encourage me to appreciate poetry even more. They reinforce the need of poets to be aware and respect formal poetry and the popular free verse style common today.

 

I am entering a new chapter in my life story as I allow poetry to absorb me. As I write my poems, I embrace them like companions. I also embrace times of solitude to allow the poems time to gather their thoughts to express themselves. The poems understand me more than I understand myself.





Alan lives in Deroche, B.C. with his wife, Terry. He contributed stories to Good Grief People by Angel Hope Publishing, 2017, Story by Story: The Power of a Writer, Unstoppable Writers Publishing, 2018, and Easter Stories & More, by InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, 2021. He has also written articles for FellowScript Magazine. Blog: https://scarredjoy.ca. Alan is the Provincial Rep. Liaison and BC Rep for InScribe.

July 21, 2021

Sink or Swim - Finding Passion and Purpose in the Storms by Katie Gerke

 I have lived with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for 34 years, and I have lost the use of both legs and arms. I have lost the ability to express myself manually and have adapted to expressing myself orally. 

I have lost the ability to dance with joy, clap my hands with excitement, hug someone affectionately, throw things when frustrated, wave my arms in distress, and hold my head in my hands when I cry. 

Is your mouth a blessing or a curse? Does it help or hinder you? Is your mouth still doing the things that it was meant to do?

I have used my mouth to colorfully read to young, school children so that they may become more confident in reading and verbalizing their new language – English. Unbeknownst to me, it was viewing these same children’s art, that inspired me to start painting.

When sailing on the Glenmore Reservoir, I have used my mouth to yell STARBOARD! so the sailors, that are on a port tack, need to “follow the rules” and sail out of my way. (It’s this offensive sailing strategy that wins me races).


My mouth has been taught to save other’s lives but it neglected to try and save mine. I have used my mouth as a tool to try and take my life and four days later, I have used it to swallow my pride, and reached out to others and up to God, so that I may live my second chance at life, more abundantly.

I have used my mouth to talk to politicians about the inequities that young adults with my MS experience while navigating through the continuing care system to secure appropriate living arrangements when they can no longer live at home. My most rewarding work was when a DVD was produced called “These 4 Walls” showing me, sitting in a very, tiny room (roommate included), making comparisons between life at home and life in long-term care. 

I have used my mouth, with words of Scripture, to give comfort and encouragement to others, when my own words are not sufficient.

With my mouth I will greatly extol the LORD; in the great throng I will praise him. Psalm 109:30

I have taken up a paintbrush – between my teeth and my lips – and connect my heart, my mind and my emotions and push them down the length of a paintbrush to create something to share with others so that they may be encouraged and hopeful that through adversity there is beauty in everything coming together for good and a world that desperately needs Jesus.


With the addition of these new abilities, I will continue to convey love, lift people up, impact others positively, bear each other’s burdens, seek joy and excitement in ordinary things, push forward with my advocacy and defend those who can not speak for themselves, build leaders out of the children, and maintain my course and prevent expensive collisions. These things I can do, and I do them very well!

I hope that my art acts as a catalyst to help you to become encouraged by my testimony, transcend the trifling problems, refreshen your consciousness and become more connected to the world around you. Now, it’s time to get out of the boat!

by Katie Gerke


July 20, 2021

A Serious Reader - by Gloria Guest

 

I’m a serious reader. By that, I don’t mean that I devour books weekly, and have an entire stack by my bed. In fact, truth be told, it’s been quite a while since I’ve read my way through an entire book. I’ve been guilty of dropping quite a few of them smack, dab in the middle and not finishing them, for reasons I’m not sure, other than for whatever reason they didn’t entirely hold my interest. This is not to say that they weren’t well written however. I feel it is more likely due to something going on within myself. That being said though, a book for me, or most anything I read, needs to be deep, usually spiritual, although not directly, and purposeful.

I do daily read up on current events. It seems to be a need of mine, to know what’s going on in the world around me. I suppose even though I haven’t worked in the field for a while now, that I’m a reporter at heart, as I tend to also feel the need to share my findings on social media.

I like to read historical fiction, and so have read many of Brock and Bodie Thoene’s books, and others who write in that genre. I also am drawn to memoirs. The saying that ‘the truth is stranger than fiction,’ is intriguing and often true. I myself have had some of my own truth questioned, in parts of my memoir. Memoir writing is perhaps one of the most vulnerable genres one can write in, and even though I shrink from it at times, at the same time I am fascinated and drawn in by it.

One book that has piqued my interest in the last while, and I hope to finish by summers end (meaning I won’t drop it half way through) is such a memoir. It is called educated (in small letters) by Tara Westover and chronicles the authors life beginning in hardship and deprivation, from a young girl born in rural Idaho in 1986, to first setting foot in a classroom at the age of seventeen, and onwards to her further education at Brigham University and Trinity College and Cambridge University. Tara was born to survivalists in the mountains, who  stockpiled supplies in the expectation of a government takeover. She and her siblings saw no doctors or nurses and they were kept so isolated from mainstream society that there was no help to call when her dysfunctional family slipped into violence or her father became delusional. I find it hard to grasp that this was this young girls life in 1986, in one of the most developed countries of the world. It’s also fascinating and uplifting to read her journey that takes her from such despair and want right into the some of the most upper education halls, in that same country. The strength and determination of the human spirit shines forth.

With this month’s theme being about our summer reading, I can’t help but think, what a fitting choice; to read about a young woman who wasn’t given the opportunity to read.

It makes me realize that I take reading for granted. Reading came easy to me in school and was my most loved subject. From my early years of reading, Curious George, to Charlotte’s Webb to Little Women, to The Hobbit (plus many more) and on to Shakespeare and the classics in high school; I wished that, that was all there was to school! It was the only subject that I was always at the head of the class for; reading and literature. 

I’m most definitely going to finish this book. Next on my list is another memoir, handed to me by my daughter-in-law, called From The Ashes by Jesse Thistle. It chronicles his life in foster care as a young Metis-Cree from Prince Albert and the abuse he went through, and also the healing. Now living in Toronto, he has climbed through it all to become an assistant professor in Metis Studies at York University. The timing of such a book does not escape me with the recent spotlight on the residential schools in Canada.

I believe that there is much to learn from a book, whether we agree with it or not. A book leads us into the lives of others, into our own lives, and our surrounding world. And no matter the subject, as a Christian, I believe that God wants to also show up in the pages of the books we choose to read, to lead us ultimately to Him and His goodness.

 I can’t imagine my life without being able to read. Yet in our country and others there are still those who are illiterate or have never been taught to read well. Now I enjoy reading to my Grandchildren, and it was in fact, the first activity I did with the five year old twins who joined our family, five years ago now. I read to them from my sons book that I had read to him as a child called, Butter Cup the Cow, and the bonding began :) 

I don't want to continue to take reading for granted. I'm most definitely going to take it more seriously.


Gloria reads for herself and to her grandchildren from the prairie town of Caron, Sk. She is a past reporter with hundreds of published articles and columns in various newspapers and a prolific reader of world and current events. She currently takes editing classes online from Simon Fraser University, has published fiction in two anthologies and continues to dabble at writing her own memoir, along with having other writings in the works.

July 15, 2021

Reading Then and Now by Tracy Krauss

I have been enjoying this month's posts as people reflect on the importance of reading in their lives, often from a young age. I, too, loved books from the time I was a child. My mother used to read REDDY FOX and other Thornton Burgess classics aloud to us at bedtime just as her mother had done. My grandmother was a lover of literature and could recite passages from Longfellow's EVANGELINE along with a variety of other poetry, which was a delight for me, my siblings, and cousins. An older sister introduced me to ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by reading it aloud to me when I was visiting her one summer. I guess you could say books were an integral and important part of my upbringing. 

I was a frequent visitor to our local library, enjoying Ramona, Pippi Longstocking, and many other classics kids' series. I devoured these books, often having to order through Regina's inter-library loans since our small-town library didn't have a complete selection. Then I got introduced to Edgar Rice Burroughs and TARZAN. I read them ALL (more than thirty books in the series) and was almost obsessed. It was my introduction to speculative fiction which mirrored my already keen interest in Star Trek, Lost In Space, and other TV shows in the genre. By my mid-teens, I also started reading romance, usually when I visited my grandparents because I could stay up late into the wee hours reading and no one noticed. I do recall being quite tired the next day... 

These days I find myself reading a lot of fiction by other mid-list authors. I like to be supportive and have found many new favourite authors, including some of our own InScribe members. 

I heard advice once that has stuck with me as far as my reading habits go. I'm not sure who said it, but the recommendation was to have three different books on the go at any given time: one to entertain, one to educate, and one to edify. I love fiction, so finding books to read that 'entertain' isn't a problem. These days, I read a lot about publishing, marketing, or for my job as a teacher, but at different stages of life I read about parenting or homeschooling, so 'education' is easily also covered. The 'edify' category speaks more to spiritual growth, not just educating oneself, so books on prayer, bible studies, and the like hit the mark.  

Entertain, educate, edify... This method keeps my reading balanced. I wrote an entire article about this topic which you can read here: Always Read Three Books At a Time!

I'll end by quoting Emily Dickenson:

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human Soul


Tracy Krauss
continues to read and write from Tumbler Ridge, BC. She is currently serving as InScribe's president. Visit her website for more: fiction on the edge without crossing the line. 

July 14, 2021

July Mid-Month Moments by Connie Inglis

 Mid-Month Moments


I've always enjoyed a good sci-fi - whether in the form of a book, a movie, or a TV series. And yes - I am a trekkie, and proud of it. Even though I was too young to watch the original Star Trek shows on TV in the 60's, I remember watching the syndicated series as a teenager. The shows were on Saturday afternoons so, whenever I could, I would curl up in front of the TV and watch. Usually, I was the lone viewer, but I didn't care. The idea of going into warp speed and discovering rifts in the space-time continuum fascinated me (not to mention all the weird alien stuff).

Sci-fi may not be your thing. But did you know that God is the ultimate sci-fi nerd? After all, HE created space and time and matter. Have you ever thought about that? About how God is outside space and yet is omnipresent in our space? About how He is outside time as the Alpha and Omega and yet He encompasses all time? About how He is outside matter and yet He indwells us? The idea really is mind-blowing to our finite, human minds.

When Jesus arrived as a baby, the infinite became finite. For 33 Earth years, He took on matter, lived and breathed our space, and grew and developed within the realm of human time. He broke into the space-time continuum to restore, redeem, and repair our fractured relationship with the great "I AM that I AM!"

Not only that, in His miracles, Jesus showed He was God by treating time and space as insignificant.

At the wedding in Cana in John 2, Jesus turns the water into wine. And not just any wine but good wine--wine that, in human terms, would have taken years to produce. And yet, in verses 7 and 8, He speaks two sentences and time becomes irrelevant:
Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
Verse 11 says, "What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him."

Then in John 4:43-54, after Jesus returns to Cana, an official from Capernaum comes to Him. This official asks Jesus to come to Capernaum with him because his son is sick and dying. In verse 50, Jesus says: “Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The son is healed at the same moment that Jesus speaks those words. Space is not a barrier for Jesus--it too becomes irrelevant because He is the Infinite, living in the finite.

Recently I've been struck with the thought that what Jesus did, in performing miracles that transcend time and space, we too can do! Do you believe it? John 14:11-14 says:
"Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it."

I have been spiritual advisor for several years now. In that time (There's that "time" word again), I have witnessed the power of prayer. PRAYER! It transcends time and space. For when we call on the Infinite God to intercede--to bring all kinds of healing--we are breaking through the space-time continuum because of the divine power available to us through Christ.

And I am reminded once again of the verses I prayed for all of you individually last month: "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

So, even if you're not a sci-fi geek or nerd, know that you have the power to transcend time and space at your fingertips in the form of prayer. Yes, there are times we need to deal with issues of sin, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, but that does not mean that the great I AM that I AM is unable to answer our prayers. He seeks to reveal His glory on the earth. Prayer connects His Infinite glory with our finite lives. Rest in that fact today.

Ever seeking to live in kairos time,
Connie
November 8, 2018

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. 


July 13, 2021

Inspirational Memoir Inspires Us in a Special Way by Wendy L. Macdonald


Inspirational books are my favorite to read because they help me have more of an essential thing people would perish without. No doubt you’ve already guessed what I’m referring to (I’ll tell all at the end.). Even if you have, please join me as I share some words about one of my favorite genres.

This summer I’m reading a memoir by Anne Lamott. She’s the author of Bird by Bird which I read when I first started writing full-length fiction and nonfiction manuscripts. The book of hers I’m reading now is Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith. 

Her wonderful sense of humor—although a tad liberal-leaning at times—inspires me not to take myself or my spirituality too seriously. God doesn’t require me to get it perfect when it comes to the nonessentials of Christian doctrine. Love matters most. Legalism leads us astray.    

On the side, I’m also rereading two memoirs: One is by Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way, and the other is Rachel Held Evans’ book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood. These books have inspired me to consider trying a stunt memoir. They’ve also encouraged me to continue writing honest words. Neither of these writers appears self-conscious or overly self-focused. They tell their truth in a way that helps readers tap into God’s Truth: The freeing truth of His unconditional love for us.

Ann Voskamp’s beautiful writing reminds me not to hide my love of poetical-styled sentences. Reading her books has helped me hone my love of lovely language and creativity. 

Rachel Held Evan’s book helped me spot and reject some of the patriarchal structures of Church life that Jesus appears to have rejected. I no longer subscribe to manmade traditions as much as I did before my eyes were opened. Jesus respected women and elevated them. The clearing of my sight has given me more boldness to tackle sensitive topics with Christ-breathed confidence. 

Reading memoirs also helped me be more attuned to the stories percolating in my life and in the lives of those I love. The rich aroma of Christ is spread through the sharing of what He has done for and through us. This is the best kind of inspirational memoir. Allowing the heart-crushing experiences of our lives to release the beauty of God’s love, grace, and miracles onto pages provide the best cups of inspiration one can find in a bookstore. It’s overflowing goodness that gives readers courage and hope to hang on and see what God will also accomplish in their lives.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans 15:4 NIV

Hope. Inspirational memoir helps me have hope God isn’t finished with my story yet.

Did you guess it was hope? I’m nosy-to-know what your favorite memoir is?

Blessings ~ Wendy Mac 

P.S. I completed my book proposal on time for the contest I was shortlisted in, and now I eagerly await the helpful tips promised to us. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement in my previous blog post. May God grant us His direction for our writing.

July 12, 2021

A Summer Breeze and a Good Book by Brenda Leyland


"Today I'd like to sit and read.
Forget I have a job I need.
Ignore the things I have to do.
And just enjoy a book or two."
UNKNOWN

Warm summer afternoons bring out an especial longing in me to drift away on a cool breeze and disappear into a good book. While bees hum in the roses and leaves lay listless in treetops, and it's really too hot for intense effort, I reach guilt-free for my stash of summertime reading. I like books that are sunshine infused and lavender scented, where passages remind me of happy childhood and summer holidays. Where the beauty of God's summer-laced world drifts through the pages, and adventure, mystery, and romance surprise at every turn.

No matter the season, including summer, I enjoy a mix of fiction and non-fiction, beloved favourites alongside titles yet unread. I like the well-weathered friends of old classics and vintage books, but I also run with my current favourite bestsellers. I slip easily from one genre to another: whodunits, historical fiction, literary classics, memoir, garden, art, poetry, and spiritual inspiration. Sometimes I dip into stories I loved as a girl, such as Rose in Bloom and the Anne books, or I'll catch up on titles I missed growing up. I've done the same with adult books. A couple of summers ago, I sought out well known works I'd ignored in the past and was pleasantly surprised to find this 'filling in the blanks' a most gratifying experience.
 


" No day is so bad it cannot be
fixed with a good book. "
BL

A storyline beautifully written is a must, but I also want characters I grow to care about as they grapple their issues and search out truths that set them free. I admire authors who can tell a hard tale, skillfully weaving difficult themes without utterly swamping my mind with a horrifying bleakness. There must always be a thread of goodness and beauty throughout. A good book, especially one read during the summertime, must have reasonably happy endings, and if not happy, well then, at least hopeful. I want to know the characters I've come to love will have a chance for better days ahead. In God’s world hope is ever present—it should be in books too.

Books fuel my writing. Reading about people who dedicate their lives to making the world a better place inspire me to keep dreaming of how I, too, can make my world a more beautiful place with my writing. These world changers invite me not to lose hope about making a difference, and I grab hold of the divine creative impulse with renewed joy. Often, I turn to my poetry books, devotionals, and nature diaries, meandering through the pages as if in a garden, breathing in a thoughtful line here, holding a poignant phrase there. Nourished and refreshed, my heart beats with a readiness to dust off my keyboard and share this beautiful life with others.



 
"What we need is the healed capacity to imagine and
believe the profound goodness of the future, to stand in
the light of a happy ending whose power reaches into
our present and draws us forward in hope."
Sarah Clarkson
 
To wind up, there are two books I want to recommend for your summer reading. Both happen to be written by the same author, Sarah Clarkson. At present, I am slow reading her newly released This Beautiful Truth, and I consider her other work Book Girl a must-have for any booklover's shelf.
This Beautiful Truth, How God's Goodness Breaks into Our Darkness. Sarah shares her dark struggles with mental illness and depression. Beautifully written, this intimate and honest book speaks hope to anyone who has ever grappled with their own dark pain.

Book Girl, A Journey through the Treasures & Transforming Power of a Reading Life. Part book list, part memoir, Sarah invites readers into her personal journey with her favourite books. A great reference tool for fellow book lovers. My review has more HERE.

Wherever you are this summer, I hope there's a pleasant breeze and a beguiling pile of books to keep you company. Happy Reading!

 



Inspired by the beauty of God's world around her, Brenda writes from her home in Alberta, Canada. You can find more on her blog It's A Beautiful Life and Facebook page.


Top Image by Kerstin Riemer from Pixabay
Other photos by Brenda Leyland