April 30, 2022

What Writing Projects Make Your Heart Sing? By Sandi Somers

Image by Dreamstime.com

We’ve all worked on writing projects that we loved (passion projects), and projects we’ve---well, loved less. Lady Bird Johnson advised: “Work on projects that make your heart sing.”

As I’ve been thinking through Lady Bird Johnson’s wisdom, I’ve thought of projects that have sustained my interest until completion, while other projects initially excited me, but then became a chore, and I wished I hadn’t started them. What made the difference? It helped to know that I needed to discern whether a project excites me initially, or whether it continues to enliven me, bringing a sense of life, and making my heart sing.

I’ve recently come across a number of relevant concepts, concepts I want to share with you.

1.   To discern whether we’re enlivened or only excited, the psychologist Dan Allender asks us to probe the following questions: “What moves me most deeply? What do I most enjoy doing? Where do I find the greatest pleasure and joy? What is it about this activity…that brings me such a sense of life?”

2.   If we’re enlivened, we write from love and joy. The writing instructor and author Elizabeth Andrew says, “Write from a place of love—for the subject matter, for the writing process, for the language, for our readers.”

3.   Even in joyous experiences, we can run into discouragement, uncertainty, obstacles, and setbacks. We may need to acknowledge that we need help. But ultimately we need to persevere, to think of creative solutions, to turn to the Lord for His guidance and how He is sustaining us.

4.   Then we need to look beyond ourselves, to think of how we can inspire others. Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard advised us: “Dedicate (donate, give all) your life to something larger than yourself and pleasure—to the largest thing you can: to God, to relieve suffering, to contributing to knowledge, to adding to literature, or something else. Happiness lies this way, and it beats pleasure hollow.”

5.   Ultimately we give our passion back to God to develop according to His plan and His mission for us.

6.   I conclude with a very personal note. “To everything there is a season,” the Preacher wrote (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Projects that make us sing come to an end, and the Lord directs us elsewhere.

Over eight years ago, our then-moderator of InScribe Writers Online, Brenda Leyland, invited me to develop monthly themes and become the lead writer. Doing so has stretched my faith and writing, from my first tentative posts, to a variety of writing strategies. The Lord has been my constant guide. Comments from other bloggers have encouraged me, and in addition, I’ve developed both professional and personal friendships through this blog.

But now I sense the Lord asking me to close this chapter. Beginning with our June blog, Wendy Macdonald will assume these responsibilities or designate others in these roles. I will not completely disappear from IWO, however. For the foreseeable future I will continue as a regular contributor sometime during the month.

I pray that this ministry will continue with God’s blessing. Please continue to pray for our writers, just as I extend my love, gratitude and prayers to you.

~ ~ ~

Now over to you.

As you think of your past or current writing projects…How have you discovered Lady Bird Johnson’s advice to be true? How does doing so honour the Lord in your writing?

 Surround yourself with love and beauty as you write.

You are here to live in God’s love and reflect it to everyone around you.

April 25, 2022

A Single Flame ~ Valerie Ronald



With the touch of a match the candle wick ignites, flickering then burning steadily, bringing a golden glow to the place where I sit during my quiet time with God. Its cheering light gives me a focal point as I meditate on the sacred words I read. The candle’s subtle citrus scent teases my nose ˗˗ its small flame warms my face.  

I envision the Holy Spirit of God as a single flame, like that of a candle. It is an apt picture. When Jesus appeared to the apostles after His resurrection, He told them to wait for the gift His Father promised, the Holy Spirit who would imbue them with power. On the day of Pentecost tongues of fire came to rest on each of them, filling them with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:3 NIV)   

In the past, my life journey was shadowed by struggle and sorrow. I wondered if I would be engulfed by darkness, yet a faint light of hope led me on. I remember huddling in my bed, overwhelmed with despair, yet I felt a tiny flicker of anticipation. In that fathomless darkness God’s Holy Spirit shone like a small candle, giving me hope that I would walk in the light again. Though wicked winds threatened at times to snuff it out, I kept my eyes on the light of the Spirit, guiding me forward.  

A single candle flame emits a surprising amount of energy. During a power outage we were without a source of heat, so we lit as many candles as would fit on our kitchen table, sat around it and kept nicely warm. God’s Holy Spirit reaches me sometimes through a warming of my heart. Or even a burning, like the two who walked to Emmaus with the resurrected Jesus, who asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)   

The Spirit of God communicates in ways uniquely suited to my personality, knowing how to touch my soul. My heart warms toward others when His Spirit wants me to reach out to someone in need; it burns with conviction when I have sinned against Him; it ignites with creativity when I exercise my writing gift. Then there are the precious moments when my whole being is suffused with the warmth of His presence, when my worship and love rise like incense because of who He is and what He has done.  

What an awesome mystery, that God’s Spirit flows from within me where He resides, rather than influencing me externally. As Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Me, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. (John 7:38-39)   

It has taken me years of trial and error to carry the flame of the Spirit steadily. Even now I sometimes neglect to let it shine, like those in the parable, putting my lamp under a bowl instead of on a stand, where it can give light to everyone. (Mt.5:14-15) Gradually I am learning to rely on God’s Spirit within to guide and direct me as a writer. Before my fingers touch the computer keys, I seek the Spirit’s inspiration and direction about what I should write. I anticipate His confirmation, an imprimatur of peace I have come to recognize as from Him. He plants an idea like a seed, nurtures it during prayer and meditation on His Word, then makes it bloom onto the page as I write. Some blooms take longer to unfurl, some are more vibrant than others, yet I trust they will grow according to His will.  

John the Baptist said of Jesus, “The one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.” (John 3:34) I believe because Jesus Christ resides within me through His Spirit, then I, too, have the Spirit without limit. All things are possible through Him. As I seek to live deeply in Him, I pray I will reflect His radiance, like a small candle flame shining in the darkness. 



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


April 22, 2022

Trusting the Holy Spirit - Lorrie Orr


It's the morning (late) of the 22nd - the day I am scheduled to post here. I've been thinking and thinking about what to write, given the topic of the Holy Spirit, and had decided to simply skip this month. However...here I am. 

With a degree in Religious Education under my belt, and a lifetime of enjoying God's presence, I know the theology behind the Trinity and certainly, I believe it. I sing the Doxology, often in the car in the morning, praising Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It's so much better than listening to the radio.

However, in my everyday spiritual life I don't differentiate much between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. After all, he is God's Spirit within me, and that's the amazing thing. God chooses to live in me, an ordinary aging woman living an ordinary life. He chooses to teach me, guide me, comfort me, and be with me, all via his Spirit. 

So, if that's the case, then ideally, all that I do is motivated by God's Holy Spirit. I know that I fail frequently, and do things that do not please God, but I also know that it's the gentle, or not so gentle whisper of his Spirit that touches my heart and lets me know when I need to make things right. 

So I don't worry or think too much about what to do or what to write. I trust the God's Spirit within me to lead me to action. When there are big decisions to make, I pray and then make the decision that seems right. Holy nudges every day. I feel that my role is to be available and open to guidance. I think that sometimes we compartmentalize life too much in our western culture. And sometimes, we try too hard rather than lean into God's "unforced rhythms of grace." (from the Message)

I'm curious to know what you all think about this. 

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 when she isn't teaching Spanish at a local high school. She also writes a "slice of life" blog at www.fabricpaperthread.blogspot.com

April 21, 2022

I Know that I Know - Tracy Krauss

What a joy it has been to read how the precious Holy Spirit has led others in their writing and faith. For me, the topic is almost too BIG! How can I share what the Holy Spirit has done for me; has meant to me? Since giving my heart to Christ back in 1982, I have felt God's presence. When I finally surrendered and gave my life to Jesus, something overcame me and I KNEW THAT I KNEW. That, to me, was the Holy Spirit at work. He is the intangible part of the trinity. We can't always explain His working except to say, "I know He is there." 

I was a young adult back then, still in university in Saskatoon, and not yet married. Somehow, God reached across the miles and touched my boyfriend who was working away in Churchill, Manitoba. (We had been together for a couple of years already.) He became a believer a few months after I did, and we decided to get married. (He proposed over the phone...!) 

Like most people, I've experienced many ups and downs. I've experienced miraculous answers to prayer. I've also had some very dark and difficult times. I can honestly say, however, that I have never felt abandoned. It is often through those darkest times that I've felt submerged in God's presence. 

John 14: 16 - 18

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (NIV - emphasis mine) 

Through untimely deaths, watching loved ones struggle with addiction, and so much more, the Holy Spirit has given me comfort and confidence that He has not abandoned me or my loved ones. Sometimes it is through scripture, seemingly picked for that exact circumstance. Sometimes it is through the encouragement of a friend in an unexpected text or phone call. Sometimes it is during a worship service or even at home while listening to music. Sometimes it is during prayer or even tears. Sometimes it is nothing other than that KNOWING... I think the key is allowing oneself to be open to His moving.

As a writer, I've also tried my best to follow His direction when it comes to my writing. Despite rejection and discouragement, I've never wavered in writing what I believe I am called to write. (Okay, maybe I've questioned myself a time or two, but it rarely lasts more than a few minutes...) Some may question my choices, but ultimately I must answer to God.  

Luke 12: 12

"...for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”(NIV)

Tracy Krauss writes from her home in Northern BC. Visit her website for more: tracykrauss.com - fiction on the edge without crossing the line -

April 20, 2022

Not Alone in Our Tears by Alan Anderson


I pondered this blog post for days before thoughts moved on to the page. The chaplain in me could not shake a certain part of life going through my mind therefore I decided to write the following.


Tears are not Wasted


A sad event not long ago reminded me of the brevity of life. This also reminded me  not to take life for granted. Happy anticipation may turn to crushed plans and the flow of tears. Hugs, cuddles, and kisses looked forward to now replaced by seemed never ending tears.


Dear writer and reader friends how are you really doing in your life right now? What impact has the Covid pandemic had on you? Think about this illness and how it has acted like an indiscriminate psychopath. Tears may have fallen as an expression of what this has meant to you. 


Perhaps another event or experience entered your life and rattled you. You are faced with a decision to give in to the sharp blade of despair. The other choice is to throw oneself on the mercy, the comfort, the help of God. 


“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever” John 14:16—NIV 


God Knows Our Tears


"Record my misery; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record?”—Psalm 56:8 NIV.


My friends, perhaps in your not-too-distant past you shed tears over your lot in life. In the day-to-day activities in life tears may have grabbed you by the throat as if to choke you. Guess what? God knows all about your tears. 


There are times my words are tears. They pour on to the page to reach out and hug those who read them, to hold them, to help their souls. Each tear and word have meaning. They are not thrown on a scrap heap in life, and neither are we. God sees our tears and collects them. He does not dismiss them and does not dismiss us. Our tears are not wasted. 


Time for a Deep Breath


If you are anything like me you are ready for a deep breath in life, so to speak. Often over the past couple of years people have indicated they are tired of the added burdens the pandemic has brought to them. Constant burdens and feeling tired can stifle one. We need time to breathe, to take a break and dry our tears. 



Spending time with God’s people in church helps me take a break from the rest of life. The partaking of the Eucharist, Holy Communion, is the central reason we gather as believers in church. As an Orthodox Christian receiving the eucharist on a weekly basis helps ground one in the faith. The believers we gather with, the prayers, the hymns, the icons, all encourage us to live and help each other in life. 



Nature also helps me take a deep breath. Nature is like God’s blanket to soothe our exhausted emotions. I love spring and these days the trees are dressing in their finest green. Daffodils and tulips poke their heads through the warm topsoil to say hello. Hummingbirds return and zoom around like tiny rockets. The time for warm spring walks is here. A time to hold each other’s hands. A time to breathe in the comfort of God and be thankful for His help. 


“So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”—Hebrews 13:6.


Dear heart, you are not alone in your tears.



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.

April 15, 2022

God's Open Doors by Carol Harrison

I am a writer, a speaker, and a storyteller but I never planned for those to be part of my life. God had other ideas. His plans and mine didn’t match up. As I look back, I can see His leading even when I stubbornly insisted, I wasn’t a writer and there’s no way I could speak or teach anyone but young children. Teenagers terrified me and adults – well what did I know to teach them or so I thought.

God nudged me out of that comfort zone a little bit at a time. Even when I felt inadequate as a young wife and mother to substitute in an adult Sunday School class, I found out begging God and tears didn’t get me out of the assignment. He just promised to be there with me and He was.

Writing had been put in the back of the closet and buried where no one else could read it or even know I had enjoyed it at one time. I convinced myself I couldn’t write, shouldn’t write, and so why bother even talking or thinking about it anymore. Yet the pen and paper beckoned me. I journaled for myself with no plans to allow anything I wrote to be read by others. But God had other plans with that aspect of my life as well.

Years after reluctantly teaching that adult Sunday School class, the pastor’s wife of the church we then attended asked me to lead a mid-week ladies Bible study group at the church. She felt confident I was the person for the job. I think she had enough confidence for both of us as I hesitantly said yes. I enjoyed the study times and became more comfortable with that small group of ladies. God put a love for women’s ministry into my heart. But I found out God wasn’t done moving me out of that box I had built for myself and gave another little nudge in the direction He wanted me to go.

I accepted an invitation to speak at a ladies ‘retreat. I knew no one. I had lots of time to study and God spoke to me through that preparation time. While I spoke at the second session, the Holy Spirit spoke so audibly to me, I felt like everyone in the room must have heard. He asked me to change my illustration and gave me the one to share. I didn’t want to change those carefully laid plans made during all the study time but I finally did. I felt vulnerable with the new illustration and yet several women approached me after to let me know if was where they were at too.

As I prepared for the evening session, the Holy Spirit spoke again. Another illustration change to my carefully crafted presentation which would leave me feeling even more vulnerable. Praying didn’t change the sense of urgency to obey. The next day a young woman came with tears streaming down her face. After I prayed with her trusting God knew her burdens, she found her voice. Through more sobs she thanked me for sharing the illustration from the night before about how God brought people into my life when I struggled with depression. 

Then she said, "I didn't think any other Christian woman ever had to go through this. I felt alone and didn't know where to go, who to talk to, or what to do."

What if I hadn't listened to that nudge, that direction from the Holy Spirit. God used that to affirm I needed to trust Him even when the plans I had didn't line up with ones He urged me toward.

A few months later, another pastor’s wife asked me about speaking at camp. Children’s ministry. How did this fit in with the love God had awakened in my heart for women’s ministry? I didn’t know or understand but I went and spoke to campers aged nine to twelve years. The cabin leaders were teenagers. God placed a love for camp ministry into my heart right along with women's ministry.

Next came the writing. I began to write again, learning all the things I had forgotten and more. Yet I needed to take the next step and share it with others. I asked God how all these things could possibly fit together. Women’s ministry, camp ministry, and writing made me feel like I must be missing something in God’s plan. Such a variety and yet everything I had listened to or read suggested to find your niche and stick with it.

Then I heard God’s voice again. “If I open the door, don’t look at the venue, the ages, or the size of the audience. Just walk through it. I’ll give you what you need for the task.”

God keeps expanding my comfort zone, showed me things He has gifted me to do, and asks for my obedience. He has given His Spirit to help accomplish the tasks He sets before me. I just need to hold my own plans loosely, show up and trust even when I know I'm still a work in progress.



Carol Harrison loves to hang out with her family and friends when she isn't writing, editing, playing with paper crafting and waiting for God to reveal the next open door to share stories and the good news of the gospel. 



April 14, 2022

The Chain by Sharon Heagy


        In the late 70’s I moved from Winnipeg to Saskatoon and ended up working in an office downtown. While there I met a myriad of people from many walks of life and faith. One wonderful young lady I met, Linda, was about my age and wore her faith like a cloak exuding love and kindness everywhere she went. She hadn’t been working there very long when she decided to follow what she believed was a call from God. She left Saskatchewan to go and work with the people living on East Hastings Street in Vancouver, providing needs and showing the love of God to each one. She related the story of the ‘talents’ which had stirred her heart to use the gifts that God had given her for His purposes, to further His kingdom. Before she left, she gave me a gift. A small silver dove on a chain. On the back of the dove were these words – ‘Come, Holy Spirit. Enlighten me.’

I wore that chain almost every day, the dove dangling around my neck reminding me from time to time that God loved me. It was a treasured gift, though I did not entirely understand its meaning at the time. I knew about the Holy Spirit but hadn’t yet experienced His guidance and comfort, at least not that I recognized.

Years passed and eventually I came to know Him personally. To trust his gentle guiding hand and whispered words. Though I do not know Him completely even still, I cannot imagine how I ever walked in this world without Him. He is a constant presence through joy and sorrow, through exciting days and mundane tasks. And whatever I do, including writing, I can only do with God’s hand upon me. For as Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

He gifts me and enables me as I lean on Him.

He has shown us the way many times as my husband and I have farmed God’s land and had the privilege of taking care of some of His cattle. We have tried to put all things in His hands, well, most of the time.

One day when we were combining something was scratching my neck. My hand went up to brush the annoyance away but found a broken metal chain without a dove. I shook my clothes and searched the ground. I sifted dirt through my fingers but found nothing. Prayer gushed forth from my heart as I knew that God knew where the dove was. I asked Him to lead me to it as I walked and searched all that evening and the next morning. Nothing.

But then I knew. A revelation. Linda’s prayer had been answered. The Holy Spirit had enlightened me and I no longer needed a dove of remembrance for the Holy Spirit himself was inside me, always present.

My prayer began to be that someone else who needed the dove would find it. My belief is that someone prayed for Linda before she knew the Lord, just as she prayed for me. Now my prayers go up for others too, silently and through the written word. Though a physical chain was broken, a spiritual chain was built by God’s own hand, for his purposes. An eternal chain that can never be broken and continues to grow daily. Hallelujah and Amen.

April 13, 2022

Inspiring or Distracting by Steph Beth Nickel

As the celebration of our Lord’s substitutionary death and triumphant resurrection approaches, one of two things can happen.

We can spend extra time meditating on what Jesus accomplished on our behalf …

OR …

We can face a tsunami of extra plans and preparations coupled with trying to accomplish five days' worth of work in only four.

True Confession

Because I have extra work to accomplish this week (thankfully, some of it is even paid work), both in my office and beyond, I haven’t been spending near the amount of time I would like to focused on the Saviour.

I am thankful, however, for Christ-centred podcasts that I can listen to while I’m cleaning the church (and my house, although this won’t get near as much of my attention).

While I’m taking my daughter to work and picking her up or toodling around, running errands, I can listen to faith-based podcasts and audiobooks.

Even in the midst of my busyness, there are things I can do to keep my thoughts centred on Jesus and the price He paid on my behalf.

There are also other things happening this week that have the potential to help me focus even more intently on the most profound weekend on the Christian calendar—as long as I don’t let my mind wander to the tasks yet undone:

1. Worship team practice on Thursday night.

2. The Good Friday Service (to be followed by a fellowship lunch).

3. The Resurrection Sunday service (preceded by yet another worship team practice).

 And then there’s the amazing reminder in Colossian 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (NIV). (emphasis mine)

So, whether I’m spending quiet time with the Lord, participating in the church services, cleaning my house, preparing meals, or working in my office, I can turn my thoughts heavenward. I can work at my tasks as if doing them for God—because, ultimately, I am.

This week—or any week—I can and should commit my To-Do List to Him. In fact, I repeatedly make plans to begin each task by committing it to Him. This is not a habit I’ve gotten into, but it is one I intend to work on today and in the days ahead.

So, is the upcoming weekend an inspiration or a distraction? 

While it has the potential to be both, as we take our thoughts captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), even the distractions can inspire us.

Do you find this week inspiring, distracting, or a bit of both? How do you stay focused on our Saviour when you’re especially busy? How do you point those around you to the One we are to honour each and every day He gives us breath?

April 12, 2022

A Little Pencil, Guest Post by Brenda Leyland

"I'm a little pencil in the hand of a writing God
who is sending a love letter to the world."
attributed to Mother Teresa

Long before social media and email, long before I wrote my first article, essay, newsletter, or blog post, I wrote letters. The old-fashioned kind of handwritten notes with stamped envelopes addressed to family, friends, nieces and nephews, colleagues, and pen pals. I derived great pleasure in the particulars of letter writing, from choosing the stationery to gathering clippings to composing interesting sentences to fill the pages. The even greater delight for me came in imagining envelopes dropping into people's mailboxes, giving recipients a cheery surprise amongst a pile of bills and junk mail.

An interesting turn of events, then, when I found myself writing letters professionally in the correspondence unit of my esteemed boss, the Premier of Alberta. My letter writing had suddenly become more than a pastime. I sought the Holy Spirit's grace and wisdom and sharpened my writing skills. During this season, as a young woman longing to hear the Spirit's instruction and comfort for my own life, I began to yearn to use my love of writing letters to touch the hearts of others. For I certainly knew how buoyed I felt when unexpected mail arrived, reminding me on difficult days that somebody had me on their mind. 

In my eagerness to write more, I asked the Holy Spirit for help. I'd go through my address book and pay attention to whose name stood out. I soon realized how willing He was to come alongside and help me. What joy in being a collaborator with the great Comforter to lift up others. No wonder I loved Mother Teresa’s evocative picture of being a pencil in God's hands.

Sometimes I knew what I wanted to say. Sometimes I had to wait for what He wanted to say. I came to see there was a partnership, and a timing, to it all. There were times I knew who I was supposed to write to but had no idea what the individual was going through or needed. I'd wait. I'd listen. Then one morning I'd know it was the day. Words would be swirling in my mind. And when the last sentence was written, there'd come a sense of release, accomplishment, peace. Of course, I’d eagerly wait to hear back—had I truly heard aright? You can imagine my elation when return mail brought me the news, ‘Your letter arrived on a day when I especially needed that encouraging word’. Oh thank you, Lord.

It was such a beautiful, sacred season of my life. A lifetime ago. Although I never lost my love for writing letters, the world changed, my own life changed, and handwritten letters became less frequent. Until . . . Spring of 2020 when the world saw so many folks isolated from their loved ones. During lockdown, I increased my blog presence, and along with writing texts, emails, and Facebook messages, I wrote more handwritten notes to stay connected. What joy to once again create those tactile 'hold in your hand' reminders that someone had been thought about, had been wished love, comfort, warmth—something we all needed during a brittle, trying time.

My intention in 2022 is to carry on in that vein . . . a little pencil in the hand of a writing God sending love letters to the world.

Top photo by Brenda Leyland

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