May 31, 2023

E is for Echoes from Heaven ~ Guest Post by Terry Ruth Eissfeldt


Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash 


“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does.” John 5:19 NLT


Jesus life, in word and deed, was an echo from Heaven. He partnered with His Father to stay true to His mission. Many times the world pressed in, and the needs overwhelmed so, ‘Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.’  Luke 5:16 NLT


We are invited to co-create with God: commune with Him, hear His message and echo it to the world through words and deeds, as Jesus did. 

And when the world presses in, and the needs overwhelm we also must withdraw for prayer. 

It’s the only way to quiet the cacophony of chaos.


Echoes From Heaven


Nonstop room noise

overpowers my mind

taking the place of

introspection


Nowhere quiet

to hear eternal 

words of life and love


Instead a ceaseless flow

a nagging narrative

demands to be heard


Fresh batches of 

rambunctious racket 

attack my thoughts

taking my time hostage


Minutes 

days and years 

threatened to 

disappear uncensored


All muddled together 

a kaleidoscope of 

escaped energy


Oh for reprieve

from the incessant 

rumblings 

which blot out life

undermine 

peace and tranquility

overpower the important 

by its tyranny 


Then I hear 

God’s voice calling

me to withdraw

to the desolate

desert where only

He is


Determined to mute

the dissonance

I slip away 

to the quiet place 

for prayer

meditation

and 

Heavenly communion


I wait as all the 

hellish hullabaloo

is finally

squashed silent

in His presence


Peace reigns 

as quiet 

replaces the 

cacophony of chaos


I lean in

hoping to hear 

the beat of God’s

very heart

 

Echoes from Heaven

gently caress

worldly weariness

from my brow


Whispers of love 

sweetly kiss open 

spiritual

eyes and ears


Refreshed and 

renewed 

I’m able to hear 

His love 

His heart

His instruction


And now 

equipped

I reach for a pen

to share 

with others

echoes of Heaven.


Terry Ruth Eissfeldt is called to:

 "communicate healing, hope and wholeness through written, spoken and performing arts."



May 26, 2023

Eternity in our hearts by Mary Folkerts

 


This morning, I had a front-row seat to what happens when you're so distracted with life that you miss what's important.


I was sitting on my back deck with my coffee and devotions when suddenly there was a thunk, and a poor birdie's flight plan was abruptly aborted. Too preoccupied with her to-do list,  she assumed incorrectly that my window was clear sailing and smashed her little body headlong into it. There she sat on my deck, stunned by the sudden change of plans, still clutching to the straw in her beck. It took awhile, but she finally flew away, rerouted into cleared airspace. 


Isn't that just like us? We sail through life like busy little birds, flying here and there. Busy, oh so busy. We have important things to do; the longer the list, the more important we think we are. 


We create our flight plans and to-do lists, filling our days to distraction. And sometimes God places a pane of resistance in our path to slow our pace, allowing us to remember that all our striving will never award us the thing we are after. What our hearts desire most can not be found in running hard after material possessions, power, wealth or even good deeds. It's in the slowing down and reflection that we catch a  glimpse of the reality we were created for.



It's in the slowing down and reflection 

that we catch a  glimpse of the reality 

we were created for.



Relishing in the beauty of nature and marvelling at the miracle of life, these quiet moments awaken in us a deep longing that is hard to place. As C.S. Lewis wrote in his book "Mere Christianity," "If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world."


All the good this life has to offer is meaningless if we don't view it in light of the eternity God has placed in us. We were created to live forever, enjoying the presence of God and all His beauty, but sin and self-will interrupted that plan, and death became our reality. But through Christ's atoning sacrifice, that eternal life we inherently long for can once again be our future!  


The inexplicable awe and exhale we experience when gazing at a vivid sunset sky are the stirrings and yearnings for more than this world can offer. Something outside of ourselves, something only God can redeem. Our creatively crafted words are hollow if they don't point back to the One who can restore eternity to longing souls.  


Lord, let me not be too busy with all the good things of life to miss the echo of eternity that you have placed in my heart. Remind me that my words and my life must ultimately give others the hope of eternity!

May 25, 2023

E is for Enjoyment - Gloria Guest


  

The letter 'E' felt like an enemy and not my friend this month, when I was trying to decide what to post about. So many 'E' words seemed fitting; editing, encouragement, enthusiasm, escape ( I had some good ideas for that one - that may be shared in another post sometime, but it didn't come together for this one). Most of my ideas for 'E' words were already taken in some fantastic posts; yes I know we can use the same word but I tend to try not to. 

My growing frustration with finding an appropriate 'E' word to write about, finally led me to ask, just why I write in the first place. It can be frustrating, hard, brain draining, frightening and so many other difficult things! So why do I write? 

For the sheer Enjoyment of it, basically. And there was my 'E' word.

Although I might think I don't enjoy the above hard parts of writing, it's a fact, that I actually do. I enjoy the challenge of it; the feeling I get when I scale that hard fought for writers wall, the sense that the hard work was worth sharing my words with others.

Beyond the hard parts though, I just enjoy everything about it. I may not have written a book but everything that God has led me to write; newspaper articles, fiction, poetry, memoir, etc., I have received a great deal of enjoyment from. God  placed the gift of writing in me and without it I just do not feel completely whole.

I was amazed to discover this week that both the words, 'joy' and 'gift' come from the same Greek word for 'grace.' It's by Gods grace that He gifted me with the love of words and it is when I engage myself with that gift that I experience a joy that comes from expressing it. It's a joy all of my own but dependent on God.

"My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit." John 15:8a AMP. My joy and God's glory are intertwined together, when I write for Him as He loves to see His creation using the gifts He gave us. It brings Him much joy just as it does me.


Enjoying a writers retreat 

Gloria enjoys writing from her home in Caron, Sk., on the prairies where she lives with her husband and cat Tigger. Her writing has been published in newspapers (reporting), as a newspaper columnist, anthologies and a couple of other publications. She has also taken editing classes from Simon Fraser University and Creative Writing Classes from the U of T. Her writing comes from the heart of one who has experienced tough situations and wants to help others.  

May 24, 2023

The Emotion Thesaurus Book Review by Sandi Somers

 

TITLE: The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, Expanded Edition

AUTHORS: Angela Ackerman, Becci Puglisi

PUBLISHER: Jadd Publishing 

PUBLICATION: 2019

COST: $23.56; Kindle $7.48 (current prices on Amazon.ca)

SUBJECTS INCLUDE: Characters and Characteristics in Literature


I was introduced to The Emotion Thesaurus at a writers’ conference in Calgary where the main author, Angela Ackerman, shared the scope and contents of the book. (I proudly proclaim that Angela is a Canadian who lives near Calgary, Alberta!)  

The authors wrote the book for writers to expand their descriptions of characters’ emotions. We often use telling words such as anger, discouragement, fear, confidence, or joy…whereas if we show these emotions through using body cues, thoughts, and actions, we get a more powerful and accurate sense of what the character is experiencing. 

I bought the book and tried using body clues on my fictional story of Jehoshaphat when he heard that a coalition of armies had come to attack him. I had originally written: “Panic gripped him and he felt fear as he had never felt before.” 

I asked: What did his panic and fear look like? How might a courageous king show these emotions? The Emotion Thesaurus gave me a wide range of possible physical signals and behaviours--his whole body began to shake--his knees became weak and he had to sit down--his mouth went dry and felt frozen--he tried to speak but words wouldn't come--his mind went blank and he couldn't think. 

Weaving in these concepts would make my story so much richer! The reader would be drawn into the story. 

*** 

The Emotion Thesaurus is an easy-to-use guide. 130 emotions are organized alphabetically, each covering two pages. Clear headings include: 

·        Physical signals, internal sensations, and mental responses.

·        A range of intensity from long-term responses to signs that this emotion is being suppressed,

·        Associated power verbs

·        Tips for using each emotion. 

This book is a valuable resource for any writer. It will inspire you to create stronger, fresher character expressions that will engage readers at a deeper level. 

I give it a five-star rating. 

PS For more Canadian bragging rights, I add that Angela Ackerman is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of 11 bestselling books for writers, including spinoffs in her Emotion Thesaurus series, such as The Positive Trait Thesaurus and The Conflict Thesaurus. Her books are available in 10 languages, are sourced by universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. 

May 23, 2023

Engaging the Eyes of the Heart ~ Valerie Ronald

 

As a writer, how do you see the world? For every writer, the answer will differ, because each individual sees the world from their own unique perspective. What makes us writers is our desire to capture in words what we see, experience, think and imagine, through the lens of who we are. As writers who follow Christ, there is an underlying purpose to much of what we write. We want to communicate some aspect of Jesus Christ and His message to our readers. Whatever genre, style or audience we choose, the lens of our faith in Christ colours every word.

The apostle Paul wrote, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope to which God has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints" (Ephesians 1:18).

Paul’s prayer for believers is that their inner perception be enlightened, through “the eyes of their heart”; the whole inner person, encompassing the mind, will, and emotions. French author, Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, wrote, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Engaging the eyes of our heart when we write opens up depths of meaning, symbolism and metaphor beyond mere description, in order to reveal the essential.
 

To give an example, in my short story entitled “Heartwood”, I describe a scene after a storm.

“Jack tried to stay out of the way until his father passed out but could not escape all the viscous kicks and punches. By the second night of the storm, his left eye was almost sealed shut in a swollen purple bruise and every painful breath let him know he had some cracked ribs. At the first gray seep of dawn he stuffed his coat pockets with withered apples, grabbed his small hatchet and whittling knife and quietly crept from the cabin while his father slept on. The island wept in the aftermath of the storm, dripping tears from broken branches and uprooted trees, storm-swelled waves sobbing on its stony shores. Jack felt the island’s devastation with each aching breath, as if he and it were one.”

By describing the aftermath of the storm in terms of grief, I engaged my inner eye to convey the parallel heartbreak Jack felt from abuse at the hands of his father. This illustrates a seeing that goes beyond looking with physical eyes. In order to be an effective writer I must learn to pay attention with the eyes of my heart, to be present in, and open to, the seen and unseen. I aim to write in such a way that the reader has that moment of resonance, of clarity, where they recognize their own feelings and experiences in my words.

Seeing the things of the world as visible signs of inward, invisible grace takes practice. It requires a new way of seeing beyond the surface, to the hidden way of seeing with the eyes of the heart. To clarify, not all things in this cluttered, often bleak world can give our hearts insight. Yet there is much that can. If God has called you to write, then write from that place of intuition, of revelation from His Spirit, of gut reaction to the gifts of insight He gives you.

Writing what you experience through the eyes of your heart requires faith in your unique gift to express what is seen beyond the surface. It also requires surrendering preconceptions of the acceptable way to say what you see. Begin by just letting it flow onto the page, then go back and mine the treasures.

A while ago when I wanted to become more intentional in my writing life, I began to look for “shining moments” in each day to record -- those moments when my heart rose in response to some glimpse of glory. Moments as simple as tree shadows dancing on my living room wall, or geese marking a V across the autumn sky. Always these moments were followed by praise to God, a natural outflow of thanksgiving for all He created. I looked at these moments with my heart, then wrote down my impressions. As well as looking for outward shining moments, I began to recognize the inward ones, when God’s Spirit stirred some thought or truth within me, causing the eyes of my heart to widen in joy.  

My heart does not always have 20/20 vision of what God longs for me to see, yet He continues to enlarge the vista of all He has in store for this child who loves Him. I long to be a faithful recorder of what He reveals to the eyes of my heart.
 

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him. But it was to us that God revealed these things by His Spirit. For His Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.”  (1 Cor. 2:9-10 NLT)  

     

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

     https://scriptordeus.wordpress.com/






May 22, 2023

E is for ... by Lorrie Orr

 




We're in the midst of a house renovation. Recently, our new cabinets and countertops were installed, and I lacked only plumbing to have a functioning kitchen. Under the sink my husband installed the appropriate fittings including a 90-degree brass elbow to bend the course of the water flowing from the drain. So very useful. Elbows, I learned, come in varying sizes and angles. A 90-degree angle, such as I have under my sink, forces a sharp change in direction, whereas the more rarely used 22.5-degree angled elbow is gradual.

Sometimes when writing, we don't know how to approach a topic. Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the Bones advises "begin far away from the answer" with "something small and concrete - your teacup in its saucer, a thin slice of an apple" or perhaps, in my case, the plumbing under the sink.

Working one's way from the small and concrete to a larger, abstract concept is done via elbows - sharp (90 degree) or gradual (45 or 22.5 degree) connections that bend the reader's thoughts to the intended direction. Although Goldberg never mentions elbows in her book she does suggest that "This is how we should approach what we need to say: not head-on and aggressively, but with a little side dance."

Imagine your piece of writing as an elaborate plumbing scheme with straight pipes connected by elbows of varying degrees. Did you make a sharp turn here and a gradual one there? Elbows help your readers' thoughts flow along a defined pathway with ease, enabling them to make the necessary connections and a satisfying conclusion. They can take the form of stories, examples, metaphors, analogies and more. We want our readers to connect our world to theirs. Elbows are the way.



Lorrie Orr writes from Vancouver Island where she lives with her husband Tim. She is looking forward to the renovations ending, but knows that's going to take some time. Meanwhile, there's sewing, reading, the garden, and the grandchildren. 

May 19, 2023

E equals: Encourage, Equip, Entertain - Tracy Krauss

 Encourage, Equip, Entertain...



These three “E” words are actually embedded in my author's “mission” statement. It reads:

“My mission is to encourage, equip and entertain Christian women through stories and reflections that highlight God’s grace and redemptive power."

Articulating a mission statement is something I try to do annually as part of my strategic planning. I find it helps give me direction and purpose. So... you can see that this month's letter was a no-brainer!

I want to encourage readers in their Christian walk. Whether it be through one of my devotional books or through my fiction, encouraging others is always uppermost in my mind. At the end of every story or reflection, I hope that readers feel uplifted and strengthened to face whatever challenges they encounter, simply because God is God and He is still on His throne.

Next, I want to equip readers to grow in their faith and in Christian service. This may seem obvious when it comes to non-fiction like a devotional book, but I believe that fiction has the power to teach as well, sometimes in a more profound way than we may realize since the message is wrapped in a story. 

This is a nice segue to the last point: entertain. On the surface, this may sound frivolous, but I believe it is essential. We all need an outlet for our emotions at times and a good book is just that, especially if it contains Christian values. However, a novel full of advice and Bible verses without a solid storyline that keeps the reader reading isn’t really worth much since people might not finish it. An entertaining story is a wonderful vehicle for encouragement and equipping. All three must work together.

There are so many other great E words that could be applied, like evangelize, for instance. However, my primary purpose is not to convert since my target audience is probably already saved. Evangelism is a nice side effect – and I know it can happen – but it isn’t my primary focus. This is helpful for me when it comes to my writing and why having a mission statement has helped me zero in on my purpose for writing. 

What about you? Have you ever considered writing a mission statement as an author? I challenge you to take a deep dive and really drill down into your reasons and purpose for writing. You might be surprised! 


Tracy Krauss writes from her home in northern BC. Visit her website to read more about her and her more than thirty books and plays in print! https://tracykrauss.com -fiction on the edge without crossing the line-

May 18, 2023

Embrace Hopeful Eloquence by Alan Anderson

 

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”—Hebrews 11:1, 2 (NIV)

 

Communicate with Eloquence

 

I do not find writing easy. I also do not find public speaking to be without challenges either. What I mean by this is whenever I communicate through words, I hope people will embrace the message presented to them. This includes writing or public speaking, reading poetry or storytelling to a small group, etc. For this to happen, I cannot just throw words on to a page and hope for the best. I need to work hard on the piece I write. Word choice, grammar, punctuation, flow, tone, clear thoughts, etc. are all to be used to present a coherent eloquent message.

 

For people to embrace our words, the message is to be one of eloquence. An eloquent message may not always be accepted, but it must always be understood. Eloquence is never out of date.

 

Here is one example of the need for eloquence. These days I often cringe when I listen to certain public figures present to the public. Using empty utterances like “um,” “ah,” “ya know,” weakens not only their message, but may also question the skills of the presenter. This is not to judge the character of the speaker, but to refer to the need for eloquence.

 

Embrace Your Words, Be Eloquent

 

From a personal point of view, I need to know why I write as I aim for eloquence. A main reason I write is to give or offer hope to people. To do this, I must know I live a life of hope. As I live a life of hope, I can offer articulate, thoughtful words readers will embrace.

 

I do not accept my words until they have created a piece I am pleased with. Through revision, for instance, I can reach a more articulate way of expressing what I want to say. I can then embrace the words as they are sent into the world for readers.

 



Embrace Thoughtful Eloquence

 

Life in Western countries seems to be strained these days. Eloquence also seems to be strained. Skilled, persuasive speakers and writers, at least for the moment, are in great need within our society.

 

Eloquence and hope are a must in our day and every day. Eloquence isn’t just a fancy word but can be a force for civilized change or societal division. In this time of all too many negative narratives spewed loud and clear, people need hope. Let us, as writers, embrace eloquence.

 

Hopeful Eloquence

 

I am not one who focuses on the power of positive thinking, but I do give a high regard to hopeful eloquence. I cling to a hopeful expectation God will never leave His people. An anticipation of hope showing its lovely face despite one’s circumstance. Hope in the absoluteness of the love of God. Hope in the fact the people we love and strangers we meet, matter and always will.

 

Beloved writer family, write with the eloquence of hope. You see, hope is in you. Every single letter, word, sentence, paragraph, article, book, poem, play, you write, is full of hope. A hope given by God so real even the powerful eloquent allure of world leaders falls into the dust.

 


A Few Concluding Points About Eloquence

The following points can refer to our writing as well as public speaking:


o  Know why you write or participate in public speaking.

o  Be clear in what you write.

o  Write with persuasion.

o  Think about what you want to say or write, then write your message.

o  People may not agree with you but offer your message anyway.

o  Communicate with confidence and commitment.

o  Remember, be eloquent and give people hope.

 


Alan lives in Deroche, B.C. with his wife, Terry, and their poodle, Charlie. 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. He is currently working on a book expressing the grief of grieving grandparents entitled “Hidden Poetic Voices: A Reflective Work of Grief, Faith, and Poetry.” Alan periodically writes articles for FellowScript Magazine. He has written posts for our InScribe blog since 2015. He is the Writing Group Coordinator for InScribe. Blog: https://scarredjoy.ca.

May 17, 2023

E is for Endeavor ~ Guest Post by Elizabeth Danna





 

 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isa. 6:8


The Calling

The British TV series Endeavour is a prequel to the series Inspector Morse, which is based on Colin Dexter’s novels. The series’ second season ends with Detective Constable Morse and his mentor, Detective Chief Inspector Thursday, facing down a group of corrupt policemen. The conspiracy is unmasked, but Thursday is shot and seriously wounded, and Morse is falsely accused of murdering the Chief Constable and imprisoned. In the third-season opener, “Ride,” Thursday has recovered and returns to work, but Morse, vindicated and released but traumatised, has gone into hiding. He doesn’t know whether he wants to go back to the police. When Thursday finds Morse, Morse asks him, “Why would you go back?” Thursday answers, “There’s a town wants looking to, and that doesn’t change just because I’ve lost a suit size.” In other words, there’s work to do. Police work is Thursday’s, and Morse’s, calling, and Thursday can’t turn away from it, in spite of the cost to himself. Neither, it turns out, can Morse.

Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Paul are Bible characters who knew how it feels to have a calling you can’t turn away from. Isaiah and Jeremiah were both warned that Israel wouldn’t listen to them (Isa. 6:9-10; Jer. 7:27). But they said what God wanted them to say, even though Israel’s unreceptive response broke their hearts (Jer. 20:7-10). And Paul mentions the sufferings that he went through, and the constant pressure that he was under (2 Cor. 11:24-29). But he also wrote that while he would rather go to be with God, it was better for his readers if he stayed, because there was still work for him to do. So he knew that he would stay (Phil. 1:22-25). 

God has placed a calling on the life of every believer. A person’s calling may be to preach, or to raise godly children, or to serve their community at a food bank. Whatever it is, they’ve probably had to pay a price to carry it out. To make sacrifices of time and effort, and maybe money as well. Maybe they’ve given up a glamorous career opportunity for something less attention-getting but more worthwhile. 

As writers, our calling is to say what God wants us to say. But that takes time and effort. It involves the discipline of scheduling time to write rather than doing something else, and it may involve the discipline and effort of doing careful research. But you’ve probably also found that you can’t turn away from it. Carrying out God’s call on our lives isn’t always easy, but whatever price we have to pay is worth it. 





Elizabeth Danna, Ph.D., was born and raised near Toronto, where she still lives. She has worked for Crossroads, a large Canadian ministry, for many years. Her hobbies include music and needlework, but her main passion is the Word of God. She is trained in New Testament Studies, and has a desire to help people understand the Word so that they can grow spiritually. She recently published Through the Lens of Faith: Devotions on Life, the Universe, and Everything, from Resource Publications. She has also written two small-group Bible studies, From Gethsemane to Pentecost (2011) and The Stories of Jesus: A Study in the Parables of Jesus (2016) both from Wipf & Stock. 


May 16, 2023

E is for Everyone by Lorilee Guenter

 

Reading a Story

I write because it is one way I work out my thoughts. I draw to relax. These are just two ways of interacting with the world around us. Everyone has ways they prefer to experience this life we have been given. We have also been given a community we can share our experiences with.

Sometimes when I think of the phrase, 'everyone has a story' I cringe. It is true we have a story, however sometimes that statement is used to suggest we should all share in the same way. Everyone has a story but everyone also has a unique voice. Our experiences, our gifts, our talents and our preferences all impact how and where we share. A poet has a different audience than an essayist. I could continue to list all the variety we have in our community as writers but I would miss some. 

As writers we have opportunity to share our stories with people near and far. Some of us have been given an audience that is geographically diverse. Other have an audience close to home. Whatever place we have to share our words, we have an obligation to follow the Holy Spirit's leading and share. When we hold back, when we mute our voice, there is a gap in the greater story of God's redemption.

This week I was reading the recorded story of Lazarus in John 12. I noticed that following his being raised from the dead, people came to Bethany not only to see Jesus but also to see if what they heard about Lazarus was true. Verse 11 stood out to me "on account of him [Lazarus] many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus." Lazarus' story made a difference. We may never see or hear the impact that our writing and our lived stories impact people. I am confident that when we are obedient to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, they make a difference in some way. 

On account of our time with Jesus, we have something to share. Everyone who believes has a unique place in God's story. 

May 15, 2023

E is for Endeavor to Achieve Excellence by Carol Harrison


 

If I put in the effort and work hard or endeavor as I work on my writing, don’t I want to aim for perfection? Perfection, the ideal in our minds, where we make no mistakes, have amazing writing, and have it loved by everyone at all times, is a lofty goal whose standard remains out of reach. Missing the mark often leads to discouragement, disappointment, and with us being disillusioned. These are accompanied by the fear of failure.

The negative inner voice whispers, “But the negative voice in my head often whispers, “But if you can’t have perfect writing and be the best of the best, maybe settling for good enough will work.”  Then the whispers grow into a loud chatter, “That piece of writing isn’t good enough to even show people, let alone submit it anywhere. After all, you’re not good enough at anything.”

Why should I settle for the mediocrity of just getting by, just being good enough. Somehow this also makes the negative voices chatter about failure. They make it seem like anything I write must be substandard. I’m left with feeling like I’m trying to run a marathon carrying heavy weights of negativity with me every step of the way. What I’d love is to have wings to soar above mediocrity.

Striving for perfection and settling for good enough lead to a trap called comparison that nips creativity and courage in the bud and pulls us into a self-critical negative attitude. I’ve been guilty of that too many times. I compare myself to authors I admire and think they must have found the secret to success and perfection in their writing journey that I’ll never accomplish. Yet when I’m honest, I know I’ve forgotten that every writer is on a journey and I don’t necessarily see all the hills and valleys they’ve encountered or even know where along the journey they are at this moment.

I have a choice. My attitude needs adjusting as I endeavor to achieve excellence in my writing. Colin Powell said, “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception; it is a prevailing attitude.”  

Excellence means doing the very best I can with the ability, training, and experience I have at this time. It also means remaining teachable so I can continue to learn new skills, improve ones I already know, and listen to critiques of those further along the journey than I am.

Some questions I think need to be asked to ascertain if something has achieved excellence for us include:

-         Has it improved from previous pieces?

-        Have I been willing to allow someone further along in the writing journey to read and honestly critique my work?

-        Have I taken the critiques of others into consideration and revised the writing accordingly?

-        Have I been impatient to finish and it falls short of the standard I should be at for the training, skills and abilities I currently have?

-        Is it the best I can make it right now?

The recipe for being successful in my endeavor for excellence involves attitude. Add in heaping quantities of endurance and effort. Liberally mix in enthusiasm for the craft of writing, for learning opportunities and mentoring. Be sure to find someone to add encouragement to the mixture. Leave out excuses and try to escape from the hard work mechanisms. Those negative attitudes take away from the richness of excellence.

In the books of Timothy, Paul is instructing Timothy on many facets of being a pastor, a church leader, and a follower of Jesus. In the Message, 2 Timothy 2: 15 says, “Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple.”

In Colossians 3: 17 (ESV) says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Paul repeats this attitude we should have in Colossians 3:23 (ESV) “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

Everything means my attitude, my life, and my writing too, I need to ask myself one more question. “Have I tried my best as I endeavored to achieve excellence?” To answer yes means I have put in the effort, energy, and enthusiasm to glorify God by not settling for less than I know how to do at this moment in time.

 

Carol Harrison, from Saskatoon, SK, knows she needs to encourage and be encouraged as she continues to endeavor to achieve excellence. She is grateful for each writer she has met and learned a lot from.