July 05, 2022

“Writer Interrupted” by Sandi Somers



I once said that If I were to write my literary memoir, I would title it, Writer Interrupted, because much of my writing life has wound through my experiences sporadically like a meandering brook, now appearing, now hidden under mossy grass.

 My writing success began early when I entered a contest in a Christian youth magazine—and won! Interestingly, this event didn’t birth a dream to be a writer. That came later.

  After graduating from university, I was invited to teach in a mission school in Colombia, South America. This was my first overseas experience, and I had so many interesting life experiences to journal and write to my family and friends.

 During this time, the first trickles of my writing dream began to appearAs I read books by Catherine Marshall to nourish my faith, I also absorbed her own story of becoming a writer after her husband passed. I was inspired to write faith stories just as she had done.

 However, when I came home from Colombia, I became engrossed in a new job as Teacher Librarian, and my writing stopped.

 Several years later, I discovered the devotional booklet, The Upper Room, and began submitting devotionals. Each of my earliest attempts was accepted.  My first entry was even anthologized and I was invited to write a seven-part series for their Upper Room Disciplines. In addition, after I queried The Quiet Hour, (David C Cook’s devotional companion to their Sunday School lessons), the editor phoned me—yes, phoned me—early one morning inviting me to write a series of devotionals. The genre of devotional writing seemed natural to me.

 Shortly afterwards I bought my first house, and my writing again flagged. Only occasionally did I write and submit an article. But over the years I was part of a local writers’ group that published our church newspaper, and I wrote an occasional article for our teachers’ professional journal. 

 Fast forward to the 1990s when I began teaching ESL. The cultural theme was a perfect fit for me. I had so many immigrant/refugee experiences to relate and so many cultural anecdotes my students told me. My writing momentum began again as I journalled and wrote initial drafts of articles.

 It was here I began developing my craft and vision, studying writing, taking writing courses and gradually planning different projects. Some ideas were workable, while others needed to be left in the back reaches of a closet.

 Several years ago I came to a crisis point, and prayed, “Is developing my writing part of Your plan for me, or is it just my idea?” Gradually God showed me that, Yes, His open doors of opportunity meant that He was guiding my writing. Then He gave me a special verse: Haggai 2:19: “Is there still seed in the barn? From this day I will bless you.”

 Sometime after I joined InScribe, I was invited to be lead writer for this blog; I also began developing monthly themes. Doing so has stretched my faith and writing, from my first tentative posts, to a variety of writing strategies. Comments from other bloggers affirmed and encouraged me.

 As I review my writing life, a number of themes emerged which I hadn’t noticed before. He gave me early success to begin my pathway. He provided major turning points, from the birth of a dream, to encouragement to grow in developing my gifts. Stopping when I had other demands in my life showed me that He was building my life with a breadth of experience and faith that I can bring to my writing. 

 Which brings me to today. I recognize how much the dreams He’s given us and our life stories are a vital part of the Lord's gospel narrative for the world. Sharing what the Lord has given me may be the key that unlocks the door to someone's needs.

 Though I haven't finished much of what I've dreamed of writing, the Lord often reminds me to keep faithful in creation and at the right time, He will open the way to greater publication. “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will do it (1 Thess 5:24).



July 04, 2022

My Writing Path, to Date by Marcia Lee Laycock

 My Writing Path, to Date by Marcia Lee Laycock

Photo by Jaime Spaniol on Unsplash

Perhaps it was living in a stressful home that drove me to write, plus the space my father provided for me. He fashioned a little door and hung a single lightbulb in a room under the eaves of our house. I wrote for my dolls. They didn’t complain so I kept it up.

That space morphed into school, where I learned to fashion words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs that revealed my own story to my own heart and a few others.

A summer house on Lake Huron was the next place on my journey. There, the year I turned eleven, I was given a copy of Emily of New Moon. I determined, in some small crevice of my heart and soul, that I would someday be a writer. I expected to keep it hidden away, believed no one would ever know.

In high school teachers used the word ‘talent.’ I looked over my shoulder every time. Surely they were talking about someone else. Those “Emily words” were buried deep. How could they have seen them?

Years later, at a kitchen table, my father convinced me that you couldn’t survive writing short stories and poetry. So I abandoned the idea of studying creative writing at UBC and went to Carleton University to study journalism. It was in a professor’s office I pondered the idea of becoming a writer who was known, when he said, “You write very well.” But after two years I knew journalism was not the path for me, though I picked up some skills that have served me well.

The next Providential place was a log cabin outside of Dawson City, Yukon. As temperatures fell to -60’s, I sat by our barrel heater writing my first novel on a stack of rough yellow legal pads. I was also introduced to the work of Rudy Wiebe that winter. It was The Temptations of Big Bear that instilled in me the power of setting and poetic language and pure, sing-it-to-the-world story.

I continued to scribble on those legal pads until God took me to a place where I challenged Him to reveal Himself. He did, and everything changed. It was at Briercrest Bible College that I realized the talent I had was God-given and had a God-designed purpose. I asked God to show me how to fulfill it.

He led me to the cluttered office of a small town newspaper. The editor scanned the short devotional I’d brought and said, “Yeah, it’ll do.” That was the beginning of an almost twenty-year run of a weekly faith column. At about that time I discovered InScribe, heard stunning poetry and moving short stories written by people I rejoiced to have found.

Not long after, I met Gus Henne. He convinced me to publish my first book, a collection of the devotionals I’d written for that faith column. The first edition sold out quickly, as did the second. The third is still in demand.

I continued to write devotionals and the occasional article but I grabbed every moment I could to write fiction. That came to a screeching halt one afternoon when I was at my tiny desk, absorbed to the point of obsession. My daughter had come home from school, needing to talk. I kept my eyes on the monitor, giving her a few ‘uhuhs’ until she cried out, “Why do you never have time for me?” Struck to my core, I prayed. God said, “Stop.” I fought that answer but finally agreed on the condition that He take away all the stories that swirled in my brain. He did. I wrote no fiction for over a year.

I was in the foyer of our church when God released me from that prohibition. A fictional character took shape and would not go away. Again, I prayed and was given the gift of time to write One Smooth Stone. It won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award from Castle Quay Books.

I was working on the sequel when I saw a link to a mentorship program at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. The Mentor was Rudy Wiebe. My heart raced. Was my writing good enough to be accepted into the program? I filled out the application. No email arrived. I did receive a large manilla envelope. I thought it was a school calendar. I almost threw it away without opening it and was stunned when I did. I had been accepted into the mentorship week. The deadline for acknowledging my entrance was the next day. I called the school immediately to say yes. Goin’ to Winnipeg!

Sitting in that bare classroom, my pulse raced. It was my turn to have my work dissected. For years people had been telling me I wrote well. But what would Rudy Wiebe, a literary icon of Canada, say about it?

The session began with students’ comments, most positive. Then Rudy began. “What do you think of this sentence?” Everyone loved it and my heart soared. Rudy looked at me. “You love it too, no doubt?” I nodded. He stood and turned to the blackboard behind him. “This is what’s happening.” He drew a line across the board. “The story is going along well.” He turned and looked at everyone. “And by the way, this is good writing.” I almost gasped. “But then this happens.” He drew a box on the line, then continued it on. He smiled at me. “It’s a lovely sentence. Maybe you can use it in something someday. But not here. You have to cut it because it takes the reader out of the story. They’ve stopped to enjoy that sentence. You can’t do that to your readers.” I nodded again, barely breathing.

“This is good writing.” Had I really heard those words? Could I truly believe them?

As reader’s responses arrived in my inbox and mailbox I realized that all those words of praise were wonderful but only one thing mattered – what God did with the words I put into sentences and paragraphs and chapters. My skill was only as valuable as His purpose in it.

As I continue to follow this path He has put me on, I strive to remember the words “Soli Deo Gloria.”

July 01, 2022

An Ordinary Writer by Wendy L. Macdonald

 Sandi gave the following prompt for July: 

"My Writing Path Defined

In November 2021, we wrote about defining moments in our lives and writing. Brenda Leyland combined a number of defining moments in her writing life and posted, ‘A Writing Path Defined.’ 

Combine key moments/events that were crucial in defining you as a growing and/or proficient writer (no matter what stage you are at now).

Weave them together into your writing path."




The writing tapestry God weaves for each of us is as unique as we are. Mine hasn't had and probably never will have flashy colors in it. I'm an ordinary writer whose goal is to inspire faith that overrides fear.

The first thread that hinted I was going to be a writer was my fascination with writing poetry at a young age. My poems still aren't fancy nor worthy of being traditionally published. But they help me sort out my thoughts and feelings. I began writing poems and puppet plays when I was a preteen. My puppets were created using paper mâché and scraps of fabric from my mom’s stash of leftovers. My first poem was written on a piece of paper that blew into our backyard while I was watching my mother hang out laundry.  

The next thread that stands out in my past is a comment my grade seven teacher said when I described something through my love of nature. She said, “Wendy, you’re good at making metaphors.” Since I was experiencing bullying that year, I treasured her words and tucked them into my heart. 

The third thread was a bookstore gift certificate I was awarded by my grade 8 English teacher. She was strict with the class and taught us well. While she didn’t tolerate shenanigans, she was generous in rewarding hardworking students. She never shamed anyone. But she smiled warmly when we followed the rules. Several years later I found out she was a Christian. Interestingly, I bought the book Christy (by Catherine Marshall) with the certificate she gave me. 

The next thread woven into my journey to writing was in my grade nine English class when we were given the task of creating an anthology of our own poetry. Although I adored this project, I wrote depressing poems. Since I wasn’t in a close relationship with Jesus, and my family life was stressful, it’s no wonder the cover I chose for the assignment was dreary too.

Over a decade later while living in a remote seaside village with my husband, I was introduced to Catherine Marshall’s nonfiction books when a pastor’s wife highly recommended them. The author—though gone to heaven by then—quickly became my mentor in studying the Bible. She also inspired me to write deeply and honestly in my journals. Catherine Marshall’s willingness to let readers know she struggled along with us made me trust her and love her more. It was while reading her books that I realized I wanted to be an inspirational writer too.

But life got busy. 

Although I kept writing in my journal, my hopes of becoming a writer were set aside as work, house renovations, a move to the country, and three babies took most of my time and attention. Thinking I needed to return to college first before I could become a writer, I gave up my dream. And when I discovered there was a Christian writing course I could do through the mail, my plan was intercepted by plans to homeschool my children instead. (I’m sure all those classics I read aloud to my family helped me almost as much as a course would have.)  

Eight years later when I joined Facebook, my craving to write was stirred once again. So, I started blogging. Blogging led to taking online classes and to reading how-to blogs and books about writing and the publishing world. 

I don’t know what the future holds for me. But I do know God already knows which additional threads will be woven into my writing life. He asks His writers to abide in Him so that a steady flow of His inspiration flows through their pens. That’s enough for me to know for now. I know His plans are always good. 

I look forward to reading your posts, dear InScribers. Hearing how a writer began his/her journey is always a delightful read. And by the way, I enjoyed reading all the other posts you’ve done too. Reading is one of the best (and most fun) ways we can improve our writing.

Blessings ~ Wendy Mac


June 27, 2022

Adults Must Be Responsible - Bruce Atchison

Back in June of 1976, I felt torn between two desires. I needed my job at the CNIB smoke stand, located in a seedy hotel, but I also wanted to stay true to my faith in Christ. That shop sold pornographic magazines, something I wanted nothing to do with. Neither could I transfer to another shop as there were no openings left.

In no way did I want to be responsible for selling porn to people, thus contributing to their lustful satisfaction. Just handling those wicked publications made me feel defiled. Even so, I needed the money.

So I prayed and thought about my decision. Whether God gave me the answer, I can't tell. This is what I concluded. Those adults who purchased those filthy magazines were doing it of their own volition. I was a Christian but I was a mere employee of the CNIB. So I would be excused from guilt as I wasn't the owner of the shop.

And not being the owner, I had no say about what I couldn't wear. A local Christian store sold badges with various sayings on them. Some of those were humourous, such as the one showing a little boy who lost the ice cream from his cone. As a dog licked the blob on the ground, he said, "Praise the Lord anyway."

My manager wasn't at all amused. I was told to take off my badges and not wear them at work. I could have them on my coat but not on my shirt. 

There too, I was tempted to quit. But I realized that it wasn't my shop and I was under the authority of the manager. Even so, I could talk to customers about the Lord since nobody from the CNIB was looking over my shoulder.

Our employers often ask us to do what we find morally troublesome. So we need to think long and hard, and pray as well, about what we should do. But if we're asked to do something immoral, like Potiphar's wife wanting to have sex with Joseph, that goes over the line.

June 23, 2022

Ethics and Emotions ~ Valerie Ronald

 


When my husband and I received a call from our son, inviting us to a party celebrating his engagement to his male partner, we didn’t think about ethics.

Ethics ˗˗ such a cold word for the personal dilemma we faced; one fraught with deep emotions of sorrow, loss of relationship and dashed hopes.

Scott’s lifestyle choice was already known to us. We grieved as we witnessed his downward spiral from a young man apparently eager to grow in his Christian faith, to a skeptic of all he had been taught and shown in our home. We could do little to bridge the ever-widening gap in our relationship with him as he spurned belief in Jesus Christ to openly embrace homosexuality. Not that we did not try. We assured him of our love, though we made clear we did not agree with his choice to go against God’s truth. We made sure he knew our home was always open to him as our cherished son, but he continued to distance himself.

Dealing with the decision of whether or not to attend Scott’s engagement party, we did what we always do when faced with difficult decisions ˗˗ we prayed for God’s guidance. Emotions had to be set aside so the process of moral decision-making, which is the practical application of ethics, could be applied.

Easier said than done. How could we deflect the deep parental responses gripping our hearts? And what about the possible emotional consequences of either choice, for Scott and ourselves?

Making the decision required us to primarily answer two ethical questions: “What should we do?” and “What should we be?” As Christians, the answer to those questions should ultimately be: “What God has commanded us to do in obedience to Him” and “What Jesus wants us to be ˗˗ conformed to His image.” If a heart response entered into the process, it had to be primarily, “What path, choice, or answer would bring the most glory to God?”

In October 2020 I shared a post on this blog about our journey as parents of someone identifying as homosexual.      Hearing God's Heart About Homosexuality

As I expressed there, we believe God’s created intent for the expression of human sexuality is fulfilled within the covenant of a monogamous and heterosexual marriage. (Matt. 19:4-6) Any other expression, including homosexuality, is a violation of God’s created intent and outside of the boundaries He has set. (Rom. 1:26-27)

If we attended Scott’s engagement party, we would, in effect, be condoning his sin. We would appear to be congratulating him for flagrantly exchanging God’s truth for a lie, and blessing him for openly sinning. This would go against all we believed and held true within our faith in Christ. Our choice quickly became obvious, although it came at a high cost. Because God is uppermost in our lives and in obedience to His standards about human sexuality, we told Scott we would not be attending the party. One of the consequences of this decision is that Scott no longer wants contact with us. The other more serious consequence is the recognition that “just as he did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave him over to a depraved mind, so that he does what ought not to be done.” (Rom. 1:28 paraphrase mine) Knowing God will eventually deal with Scott accordingly, if he does not repent and turn from his sin, weighs heavy on our hearts. Yet we bow to God’s ultimate authority and justice.  

 If we had gone with our emotions to make our decision, we may have caved into our desire to keep our relationship with Scott, at the cost of compromising our obedience to God’s ethics. Emotions are not a reliable measure by which to make an ethical decision. Our view of his choice is founded on a perfect source outside ourselves, God’s Word, which teaches us repeatedly to love others in spite of their sins, yet not to compromise our beliefs by condoning their sin.

Ethics do not always transfer from one generation to another, as we have experienced. No matter how much we tried to instill biblical ethics into our children, not all of them chose to accept the absolute truths of God. We know in our heads we made the right decision concerning Scott’s engagement party, yet our hearts still ache with yearning for our prodigal. Daily our prayers plead for his return, firstly to his heavenly Father, who waits for him with forgiving open arms, then to us, his loving parents who miss him so much.



More of Valerie's work can be read on her blog.

https://wordpress.scriptordeus.com/

June 22, 2022

Standing Firm - Lorrie Orr

 

Just because I find it difficult to post without an image. 

For several years I served as managing editor of our mission's quarterly newsletter focusing on healthcare. The purpose of the newsletter was two-fold: to connect with mission supporters and to raise funds for ongoing medical work. I wrote articles, and edited the work of other contributors, and worked with photographers and a graphic designer prior to publication. 

Once the work was done I faxed the newsletter to our home office in the United States for approval. One June day I was horrified to receive the "approved" newsletter with a replacement of one story. This new story, contained several gross exaggerations, and at least one mis-truth. It was written by someone in fund-raising, not by anyone on the field, and was high sensationalized. 

Challenging the "bigwig males" in the home office caused me great anxiety. I looked up the event in my journal before writing this post on Inscribe to see if I had written about it. I discovered these words, "when I finally sat at the computer, my hands were shaking and my innards quaking. E-mails flew thick and fast all day long and by 3 PM I was frazzled and sick of the whole thing...I can't just drop the issue because I'm sick of it. It's to do with integrity..."

Later, I wrote, "through all this mess I want to display God's grace. E (a fellow worker) came to me yesterday and said, "You were angry." I had to agree with him. But I pray that my anger has not caused me to use harmful words." 

Finally, as editor, I refused to print the story. I never heard anything from the home office, but several leaders on the field supported me and said that I had chosen wisely. 

Being in conflict with those far above me was difficult, and also eye-opening. I was appalled that a Christian organization would even consider printing this story once it had been proven incorrect. At one point, someone suggested that I let the story go to print and then print a retraction in the next issue. That seemed so very wrong to me. 

I lost respect for some people that day, yet I know that we are all blinded at times, and do things that do not please our Lord. I am so thankful for the grace He extends without measure, and am learning to extend that same grace to others. 




Lorrie Orr writes from Vancouver Island where she enjoys boating and hiking with her husband. Gardening, reading, sewing, and spending time with her five grandchildren fill her days. She is now retired (for the second time) from teaching Spanish at a local high school. She also writes a "slice of life" blog at www.fabricpaperthread.blogspot.com

June 21, 2022

Ethical Dilemmas in a Post Christian World - by Tracy Krauss

As Christians, our very existence is an affront to many in today's society. We are sometimes seen as intolerant and closed-minded in our beliefs, especially when they go against current trends. We are faced with ethical dilemmas on a daily basis. 

I was faced with many such dilemmas when I taught in the public school system. Increasing pressure to embrace certain philosophies, especially around gender identity, really began to come to the forefront. My dilemma was how to support my students, whom I genuinely loved, without allowing my personal convictions to come between us. 

Let me backtrack by saying that I have probably always been more "tolerant" in this regard than many of my Christian acquaintances and friends. I have worked with gay and lesbian individuals on many occasions, both in the theatre and out, and decided that what happened in the privacy of their bedrooms was none of my business. After all, we are less likely to "judge" when a heterosexual couple is "living together", but at the end of the day, sin is sin. My husband and I welcomed gay and lesbian people who attended our church and we had candid conversations about their situation, and what God's Word had to say. And we prayed--lots. The church is for the hurting: people seeking answers, so we would not turn these souls away, although we did not encourage membership or any leadership roles until they could work out these issues. And of course, let's be honest. Who among us doesn't have family members embracing certain lifestyles that we don't necessarily believe are healthy? But we love them anyway.

All that to say, my dilemma at school was different, somehow. Suddenly, I had students (mostly girls) who were deciding they were actually male even though born as girls; non-binary, pan, bi, lesbian... all the trendy hot button words floated freely as these very young girls were encouraged to experiment. (Usually without their parents' knowledge.) I'm not saying people don't have the right to explore their identity, but in most of these cases, it was a very clear (at least to me) case of ATTENTION SEEKING - trying to stand out in the crowd in a way when crazy hair, piercings, and makeup just don't cut it anymore. It's the new "trend". Everyone wants to stand out--be different and unique. And right now, they are being encouraged to explore parts of their sexuality that, in my opinion, they are simply not ready to explore. Teenage hormones are rampant enough without this new aspect of the struggle. 

As a public school teacher, I could not offer advice or contradiction. All I could do was love them. And that's what I did. I know that for some, the "shock factor" was the main thing, but I never bit. I treated them the same way I treated everybody. For the ones that I was close to, I just loved them - as they were - and prayed that God could use me in some way as a voice of reason if they ever needed it. 

Just as all this was really starting to brew, God whisked me out of the public system and I now work for an online Christian school. It is a safe environment for me and I am so grateful. As for the kids I used to serve? Well, one girl who decided she was a lesbian is now all grown up and living with a boy. I see her often downtown and we always share a hug. I love that kid! I didn't (and don't) judge or condemn her, just accept her as she is, praying that God would bring her through in His good timing. Similarly, another girl who we had to start addressing with male pronouns now has a baby and has gone back to her real name and "she". I thank Jesus that she figured it out before she actually went through surgery or got too embroiled in the hormone therapy she started on. 

Like so much about life and outward appearances, I am glad God knows the heart. I can stand up for what I believe, but I don't have to condemn or point a finger. God is the final judge. It's His job, after all, not mine. My job is simply to LOVE and let God take care of the rest. 


Tracy Krauss
writes, teaches, and loves from her home in northern BC. As former president of InScribe, she is very grateful for the years she has had among such an accepting group. Visit her website: https://tracykrauss.com -fiction on the edge without crossing the line-


June 20, 2022

Follow The Truth and Be Cancelled by Alan Anderson

 

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know[a] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”---John 14:6,7 NIV

 

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”---John 18:37 NIV

 

A Caveat

 

As I introduce this post I realize this message may not be agreeable to all who read it. This is fine by me. I am going to go ahead and pull back a layer or two of a matter I grapple with as an ethical and moral dilemma.

 

The Truth Will Have You Cancelled

 

“Cancel culture or call-out culture is a contemporary phrase used to refer to a form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person…”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cancel_culture

 

Not many years ago a former friend cancelled me from her life. She disagreed with my view on a particular issue. This issue is one of the many negative narratives our society perpetuates. I happen to not agree with most of these narratives. I do so because they are hostile to our Christian faith.

 

What is truth? This is a question many people over the years have pondered and attempted to answer. To some people, truth is what they believe about a particular matter or issue, etc. This phenomenon holds to a view of, “my truth.” More and more people these days have decided to embrace a subjective approach to truth. This does not make their “truth,” true.

 

An example of “my truth.”

 

In no way do I infringe on the life or self-belief of a man who claims to be a woman. He may view this as his, “truth.” If a man wants to act like a woman and wear women’s underwear or a dress, so be it. On the other hand, I do not have to believe it just because he feels he is a woman. In our contemporary era such a view is worthy of one being cancelled and regarded as no longer worthy of being a friend, or even a family member.

 

As a writer, I am cautious as to where I share my work. I am not afraid, yet I also do not want to cause unnecessary hard feelings with other people. As a Christian I accept people as best I can, but I do not have to accept their views, their lifestyles, or their truth.

 


 


Follow The Truth

 

In reality, “truth” is not a concept, or an opinion, even one held to by most citizens of a country. Truth is Jesus Christ. People at the time Jesus walked the earth did not grasp this. Pontius Pilate, the governor who handed Jesus over to be crucified missed the mark as to who Jesus is and rejected the Truth.

 

In this age in which everyone does that which is right in his, or her, own eyes, those who follow the Truth must cling to Him. For the Christian, this is not up for negotiation. Our, friends, enemies, our family, even the world may cancel us, but this changes nothing.

 

You might walk counter to the culture,

 but it is worth every step.

 

 



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; Easter Stories & More by InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, 2021. Alan periodically writes articles for FellowScript Magazine. He has written posts for our InScribe blog since 2015. Blog: https://scarredjoy.ca.


June 16, 2022

Season of Wrestling by Lorilee Guenter

 

I have picked up my pen many times to attempt to capture my thoughts. The pen feels heavy in my hand, unfamiliar from lack of use. Excuses rise. I have nothing to say. Except I do have thoughts I have been wrestling with. I read and I write because words matter.

Every story, every life has conflict. Our decisions change us and the world around us. It is my hope and prayer that mine reflect the faith I profess. But I fail. Internal conflict keeps my brain active as I contemplate and wrestle with the issues of today. Can I be sensitive on the hot button topics without compromising my beliefs?

Sarah was introduced as Abraham's sister, a half truth. Daniel continued to pray without fear and ended up sleeping with lions. The disciples struggled to understand what Jesus was teaching them. They all kept going. They all met God in the middle of their circumstances. I know He meets me as well so I attempt to keep going.

My pen still feels heavy and unfamiliar since I have had a season of reading and wrestling instead of writing. However, I still pick it up to sort out the lessons I have learned. I start to write my reflections. Will they lead to stories where the characters wrestle through living their faith or poems and essays? I do not know. The reflections are one more step as I process what God is teaching. In His timing, the pen will once again feel familiar in my hand. The words will come not because of me, but because of Him.

June 15, 2022

Knots and New Life by Carol Harrison



Ethical dilemmas. What quandaries have I faced in my writing and my life that I needed to deal with, to listen to God’s leading in dealing with them, and in being a faithful steward to what God was calling me to do and write? I pondered this question and struggled to discern the direction this post needed to take. After all, I reasoned, I don’t write about ethical dilemmas and haven’t been asked to tackle them, or have I?

I thought back a few decades to a time I hadn’t begun writing. I served on the admissions and review board with an organization not many people knew about yet. The Early Childhood Intervention Program in Saskatchewan hadn’t been in existence very long. It had begun to assist parents and caregivers by providing learning through play and information about available services for their children, up to six-years-old, who had special needs.

I had heard about ECIP through a friend who fostered a child in need of these services. But I never equated it with being available for us with our almost three-year-old daughter, Amee because we weren’t fostering or involved with Social Services. It took her a few months to convince me to apply for the help. Others struggled on their own, trying to find help, and never knew about this program. Even doctors and nurses didn’t understand what the program was all about, how it could be accessed, and why the help and encouragement was desperately needed.

Now as a parent in the program, I had the opportunity to share with others. Yet we faced a dilemma of helping people understand but not being able to share personal stories about clients. A reporter from our local newspaper offered to do a series of columns detailing ECIP. She wrote informative pieces about the beginning of the program, who it was designed to help, what types of things were available through the program, and how to access the services. She had the facts correct, presented them in a very easy to understand manner, and became an ardent supporter for ECIP’s ability to help families and their child with special needs.

But people, including medical professionals, didn’t seem to get it. Misconceptions abounded. She needed a personal story to go with the facts. But confidentiality stood like a wall, blocking that possibility. Or did it?

Confidentially should not be broken but I felt God’s peace. We, as a family, needed to be willing to be the solution so we waived our own confidentiality and shared our experience in the program. The reporter visited our home, met Amee, and listened to us tell her story. We shared how we heard about the program, the help and encouragement we had already received, and plans for further assistance and access to more help. We even invited her to take a photo of Amee, her dad, and myself. It appeared in the newspaper along with the article.

The personal story offered a face to a theoretical description of a new organization and what they did. Years later I began to write Amee’s Story after saying no for years. I had great excuses that sounded like reasons to me. I didn’t have the ability needed to tell the story. It was an ongoing story. But bit by bit, God worked on me using family and friends to get me to realize I needed to obey. The reasons to share her story still existed just like they had years before. Amee wanted it written to help people understand more about a person with special needs, especially one who had relatively invisible disabilities. To do that I face the ethical dilemma of how much of the story to tell. Should I give the bare necessity of facts or delve deeper? God directions came through Amee. She was willing for me to share the good, the bad, and the extremely difficult portions of her life.

Personal experience and story sheds more light and gives valuable perspective, but also sticks with people long after a litany of facts. The result of my obedience to God’s nudge to write the story and share it in a variety of ways has given me peace. But it has also encouraged others and Brian and I have been able to share the book with those God leads us to do so, even when we aren’t sure why. The book tells more of the story than we have time to share in a few minutes.

Only we could choose to listen to God’s leading and break our own confidentiality. Obedience meant being vulnerable but trusting God to use it however He saw fit. Sharing the story in the newspaper decades ago to writing the book has allowed me to tell others that the God of the Bible is still God toady. He answers prayer but the answers might not look like what we expect and He has received the glory. 

The pruning leaves behind a knot yet new life grows and the tree flourishes. So our obedience pruned away fear. God has used the process and the story to help me grow and also encourage others. 


  

Carol Harrison is passionate about mentoring others to help them find their voice and reach their fullest potential as she shares God's amazing love with them from her home in Saskatoon. Sometimes it means being vulnerable and allowing God to work through the dilemmas.