June 28, 2023

Focus! -- by Mary Folkerts


Some days are just one crazy long string of unfinished tasks and interruptions!  When the to-do list is long, and your mind is overloaded, it’s hard to focus on the job at hand! Here’s an example of such a day! 

“Ok, Reegan, I need you to help me do some weeding,” I say as I coax a reluctant girl out to get some nature therapy. “ You go, and I’ll be right there.”

We walk outside. There are three pairs of rubber boots lying by my flowerpots. I take the boots to stack around the corner so they aren’t the first thing you see when you come up the walkway. Rounding the corner I see the lids to a container I need to put away. The container is sitting on the lawn. I take the lids (remember I’m going weeding) and walk to the container. I bring the container and lids to the garden shed, and as I step into the shed, I see the tomato cages I had yet to put with the tomato plants in the garden. I really should do that. I grab the cages and spy the netting for the cherry tree. I wonder if those cherries are ready. I must put that netting up before the birds get into them!  In one hand, I carry the cages, and in the other, the netting. I walk to my cherry tree. Yep, the netting needs to go on!  I set the cages down and put up the netting.

 Fifteen minutes later, with that done, I head to the garden to my tomato plants. (Remember, I went outside to weed with Reegan). I start setting up the cages, get two done and see some weeds. I start pulling. I pull a few weeds, and my eye lands on the chicken wire curled on the ground. Oh, we could use that to keep the dog off the deck while we refinish it! I’ll just bring it over there. I grab the wire and haul it over to the deck.  And there is my poor girl, weeding under the trees. Right. That’s what I was doing. 

Tell me I’m not the only one? 

Meanwhile, I think there are some tomato cages lying in my garden.

We chuckle and nod in understanding! Some call this multitasking, but truthfully it's better described as getting a lot of things started but nothing accomplished! Focusing on one task until its completion is definitely preferable for getting things done!

We can use this analogy in our writing process as well. When we take too many angles and cover too much ground, we lose focus of the point we are trying to convey. What should be one or two focused points becomes a mishmash of thoughts and unfinished, unclear meanderings. 

When we take too many angles 
and cover too much ground, 
we lose focus of the point we are 
trying to convey.

As Christian authors, we can also be guilty of this when we make our topic too wide or use too many Bible verses for one essay. We need a single-minded focus to communicate a well-thought-out piece. Too many bunny trails take you away from your original message, but if you think those trails are important thoughts, file them for another article.

Next time we sit to write that blog piece or devotional, let’s ask ourselves, “Am I clearly communicating my idea, or did I take my reader through the farmyard in a confusing ramble of thoughts?”

Mary Folkerts is mom to four kids and wife to a farmer, living on the southern prairies of Alberta, where the skies are large and the sunsets stunning. She is a Proverbs 31 ministries COMPEL Writers Training member and is involved in church ministries and music. Mary’s personal blog aims to encourage and inspire women and advocate for those with Down Syndrome, as their youngest child introduced them to this extraordinary new world. For more inspiration, check out Joy in the small things https://maryfolkerts.com/  

June 26, 2023

F is for Finances: Becoming Prosperous as a Christian Writer by Michelle Strutzenberger

Have you ever felt discouraged over your level of prosperity as a Christian writer?

Perhaps you’ve made peace with the likelihood that you may never achieve a great financial return from your craft. One stat says writers in general, never mind those of the Christian faith, make an annual average of $3,000. 

Your writing income may lie close to that average. Or you may be one of the outliers. But, regardless, as a person of the Christian faith, you may have found a way to make peace with your financial return or lack thereof.

Perhaps you have also made peace with where your social media numbers stand. You’ve realized they are a metric that tells you something about the stickiness of your writing, but you know they aren’t the whole story. Sure, you’d jump for joy to see the numbers of follows, likes, and shares, popping, and you work hard to make that happen. But you wisely understand that the numerals on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. can only say so much about whether your work is making a difference or not.

Maybe you have also come to trust that even though you don’t hear from every reader who is blessed, encouraged, changed, and helped by your writing, that doesn’t mean your writing isn’t blessing, encouraging, changing, and helping. You have learned to just keep writing, regardless of the feedback. You may one of those who trust that someday, when God reveals all our work as silver or straw, you will find out more about how your solitary sweating over sentences was used by God for His glory and the blessing of others.

Although I still walk into discouragement fogs as a writer, I can honestly say I’ve reached a place of peace about my financial return, social media metrics, and amount of feedback from readers. None of these metrics match my youthful dreams or adult expectations, but I’ve learned to accept them for the most part, even while I keep trying to improve them.

Still, I must confess that the outcome so far of my passion and hard work as a writer bewilders me a bit. The truth of the matter is that by all accounts, my work as a writer has not been prosperous! In fact, the best outcome I can see is that I’ve been able to make peace with my lack of prosperity!

That peace makes me happy, of course – and yet, and yet, there is a twist in the belly.

Since I was 12 years old, the burning to write, which I believe is a God-given passion, has ignited all kinds of written work. As a youth, teachers praised my writing talent. I’ve worked diligently to make the most of that gift, earnestly seeking to avoid being the terrible servant in Jesus’ parable who “buries” what God has given them. I’ve prayed earnestly over every piece of writing, including while working for 15 years as a secular journalist. Since leaving that work and recently launching a Christian writing ministry, I constantly seek God’s direction in what to write and then for His anointing as I write. 

Yet, like a hangnail, the bewilderment nags at my peace. Is there some other reason for my lack of prosperity? Doubtful thoughts that have wormed into my mind for years never leave entirely: Maybe this drive really isn’t from God. Maybe the people who told me I had talent were just being super kind. Maybe I’m one of those pitiful, blind-to-self folks who can’t see that they’re beating a dead horse and just need to stop. 

Or, what if I am being prosperous as a Christian writer?

What if you are being prosperous as a Christian writer?

A soul-refreshing, spirit-lightening a-ha came to me this week. 

I’m excited to share in my next post how a friend’s reflection on a Bible passage helped me rethink what it means to be prosperous as a Christian writer – beyond just making peace with a lack of prosperity.

About Michelle Strutzenberger: Michelle is an instructor and Braillist. She and her family enjoy hiking trails and mountains. More of her work can be read at awakehope.ca.

June 23, 2023

Out of His Fullness ~ Valerie Ronald


Like a jeweled orb, it hangs in the night sky ˗˗ a silvery full moon. I can’t take my eyes off it. As I prepare dinner, I keep returning to the window to gaze at its luminescence high above the black-fingered trees. The dark landscape is bathed in its cool light, creating ethereal moon shadows. I recall watching a similar moon rise over the ocean, stretching a pearly beam across the moving deep like a pathway to the stars.

When skies are clear, I love to watch the moon transition from new moon to full, from waxing to waning, throughout the nights of each month. At phases when it appears as a thin crescent, I can sometimes see a dim impression of the rest of its sphere. Though not much of the moon is showing, there is the promise of fullness to come.

The mysterious moon reminds me of the phases I experience as a writer. As the moon reflects the light of the sun, so am I called to reflect the light of God’s Son through my words. The moon is a natural satellite orbiting around earth so the side facing the sun is always illuminated, but from my static position on earth, it appears to change slightly every night. The moon itself isn’t changing, just its place as it orbits the earth, affecting the amount of light it reflects.

My writing life goes through phases too. All that I am and believe spins in orbit around my Creator God, who upholds all things by the word of His power. My writing orbit is elliptical, sometimes closer to God and sometimes farther away. The light I reflect from Him in my writing varies according to where I am in my spiritual life. If I allow the world to pull me to the outer limits of my orbit around God, then the effectiveness of my writing is dimmed like the waning moon, a mere sliver of light in the dark. But when I come closer to Christ, His fullness is reflected in my words so they glow with the beauty of His person.

For out of His fullness, the superabundance of His grace and truth, we have all received grace upon grace, spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing, favor upon favor, and gift heaped upon gift. - John 1:16 AMP

Although it’s hard to see sometimes, I believe God can shine His light through whatever writing phase I find myself. It surprises me when something I wrote in a “waning” season draws someone to the Lord in a helpful way. I don’t have to produce brilliant prose for God to use my imperfect efforts. I will always want to write my best for Him ˗˗ to shine His light into the lives of those who read it. However, I leave it up to God to use what He can from what I have to offer. My part is to stay steady in my orbit around Him, where His fullness blesses me with grace upon grace, and gift heaped upon gift. What a privilege it is to reflect God’s brilliant abundance so others can bask in His glory. 

“Be the moon and inspire people even when you are far from full.”     
  (author unknown)

Valerie Ronald is a pastor's wife, mother and grandmother 
who enjoys reading, writing and taking photos of the
 beautiful prairies where she lives.

June 22, 2023

Lesson from a Sunflower - Lorrie Orr


How I love summer light. Now in June, days stretch long into the evening. The light fills me with energy and happiness. Spending time in my garden is utter delight whether I'm weeding, clipping, picking, or just standing in admiration of God's wonders. I often plant a few sunflowers to add cheeriness to the garden and observe how they reach to follow the light of the sun.

The word follow has taken on new meaning during this age of social media. We follow people on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook as we discover common interests or thought-provoking content. What does following someone really mean? Is it being in the vicinity of this person? Is it acceding to a certain viewpoint?

In John 1 Jesus calls the disciples to follow him. What does following someone mean? Is it being in the vicinity of this person? Is it acceding to a certain viewpoint? Is it acknowledging who Jesus is? Even the demons do that.

A sunflower bends and turns throughout the day to follow the sun. It continually redirects itself to face the light from which it draws energy, leaning towards its life source. We who follow Jesus can learn to redirect ourselves throughout the day in order to grow and flourish. Let's learn from the sunflower and follow the Light!

Lorrie Orr writes from Vancouver Island where she enjoys boating and hiking with her husband. Gardening, sewing, reading, and spending time with her five grandchildren fill her days with happiness and contentment. There is also the writing that always occupies a corner of her brain.

June 21, 2023

Feed My sheep - Tracy Krauss

Feed My Sheep. 

Grace Fox, the keynote speaker at last fall’s InScribe Conference in Edmonton, used this phrase in one of her addresses. She said, “As Christian authors, rather than building a platform, we should focus on Jesus’ words, “Feed My sheep”.

Wow. This really stuck with me. I ended up choosing the phrase as my “Word” (in this case “Phrase”) for 2023. 

John 21: 17 says, “Jesus said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.'”

Jesus asked Peter this same question three times, presumably to reinforce the importance of the message. I’m listening, Lord! I am trying to embrace this concept in my writing--and in every area of my life. 

What “Feed My Sheep” means to me…

“Feed My Sheep” encompasses so much. It is a “shift” in thinking and purpose, especially when it comes to my motivation for writing. It is about affecting someone’s life; meeting them where they’re at; coming alongside without necessarily having all the answers. I want my writing – both fiction and non-fiction – to affect people emotionally. To connect on some deeper level. To let them know it’s okay to be imperfect because God can and will meet you where you’re at. I guess it’s why my fiction is very grace-oriented, focusing on redemption, forgiveness, and second chances. I didn’t realize it, but my fiction uses ‘story’ to minister to people.

In marketing, “Feed My Sheep” represents a shift from “Build My Platform” to ministering to my readers and meeting their needs. Even as a teacher, which is my profession, I realize I am more concerned about meeting my students’ emotional needs than making sure they meet all curricular competencies. In an even broader sense, the phrase is about making more time for people; lending a listening ear; being available; showing hospitality.

Practically speaking, "Feed My Sheep" means…

Leaning into this shift in purpose and motivation.

Rethinking my communication with readers to be more ministry focused.

More intentionality in reaching out to others in my church, my community, and those in my sphere of influence.

Being a better and more engaged friend.

Showing hospitality.

Listening and praying more with those God puts in my path.

I have been trying to embrace this philosophy with more intentionality, and although I'm not managing it perfectly, I think it has had a huge impact on my attitude this year. 


Tracy Krauss
lives and writes from her home in beautiful Tumbler Ridge, BC. For more, visit her website: https://tracykrauss.com

June 20, 2023

F is for Fealty by Alan Anderson


Dear reader, did you take a second look when you read this F word? I bet you did! In my experience I cannot say I have ever used the word. Perhaps I am in good company.


Meaning of Fealty

What on earth is fealty? Good question!


Early forms of the word, “fealty,” originate around 1300 and referred to the loyalty a vassal had to a lord. As time went on the meaning of “fealty” broadened. Fealty is now used to express one’s loyalty to other leaders, a country, or a principle of life. These days the word isn’t used often.



One of the closest words we have today to fealty is loyalty. “Loyalty implies a faithfulness that is steadfast in the face of any temptation to renounce, desert, or betray.”



Fealty to One’s Call as a Writer


This post will be devoted to fealty as loyalty to one’s call to write. Our fealty to our call to write is also one of commitment and an expression of devotion. As writers who are also Christians to betray our call is not an option.


The members of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship are more than casual hobbyists. To us writing is more than a fun thing to do. There is skill to develop, genres to explore, energy and concentration to aid in our focus, and passion in what we want to write. We can add to this list, but I hope you get my meaning. Writing is indeed fun, but it also requires work and loyalty to develop one’s skill.


Wow, my friends, just think, we are writers! We spend time writing down words to reach other people. To us words are alive. They aren’t mere empty thoughts coming from a dark hole. Our words represent our loyalty to a call God has placed on our lives.


Fealty in the Face of Life Change


A recent appointment with my doctor confirmed my suspicion. He confirmed, in his words, I am, “no longer a spring chicken.” Okay, this is no surprise to me. The past months of 2023 and latter 2022 has been a period showing me my youthful years are now history. I guess I had to come to a place in my life where I had to admit I am an almost old guy.


This realization, however, has not crushed my fealty, my loyalty, to my call as a writer. Lord willing, I still have years of energy to walk in nature, play with my grandchildren, enjoy life with my wife, serve my church community in some way, sit on the back porch with my dog, and write, write, write. My loyalty to writing has not diminished.


A Couple Questions to Ponder


Writer friends, are you loyal to a particular genre of writing? Readers, are you loyal to particular authors?



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.


June 16, 2023

F is for Forget by Lorilee Guenter


This week I made a list of possible words that begin with the letter F. Some have obvious connections to writing, such as form, function, and fiction. Others, such as flower and fountain left me puzzling over possible analogies. I considered fabric. It shows up in cliches such as "the fabric of life." Words like events weave their way through our stories. 

Nothing felt right. I could not find a flow for the writing. As I fought the urge to crumple the paper and toss it in the vicinity of the recycling bin, I found myself thinking: "Forget it." Sometimes it takes admitting the failure of an idea and walking away before the words come. Sometimes it is helpful to forget in the middle of floundering.

I was reminded that it can be beneficial to forget the final form as you play with an idea. For me the observations and ideas come together much quicker if I relax and play with words than if I try to force them. Sometimes a poem communicates the thought in a better way than prose does. In this regard, I find writer's who work in multiple formats are fortunate. They have many tools to express themselves. 

It is useful to forget past failures. Learn from them, then let them go. A story that continues to fall flat might benefit from sitting on the shelf for awhile, or even forever. Its sole purpose might have been a learning exercise. Not everything needs to be finished. 

There are some things that should not be forgotten. The foundation of my faith keeps me grounded. It is more important than deadlines or stress. However, deadlines are another thing firmly in the must remember category. I forgot the day this post needed to go live because I wrote the day down wrong. Fortunately for me, I wrote the deadline earlier than the actual date. This let me keep my commitment in spite of a faulty memory. 

Remember (don't forget) to pause and enjoy the moments you have been given. It is in those spaces the ideas build for me. The details of life can add depth to our writing. Even if they don't, they add depth to our days. The moments are gifts from God. 

June 15, 2023

F is for Focus by Carol Harrison



Over the last few months, I’ve had trouble focusing my attention on anything. Often, at the end of the day, I look back and don’t see what I’ve accomplished. Editing still needs to be done. A story waits to be written. Deadlines, self-imposed, come and go. Have you ever had days or weeks or even months like that?

Sometimes, our focus is diverted due to health issues or other unexpected pressing matters. We have no choice but to prioritize. I’ve had to put my focus on health issues, appointments, and basic things around the house. At times the blank page mocks me about procrastinating and I have to be honest with myself and evaluate where my time and energy needs to be spent.

But at other times, I sit and stare at a blank computer screen. The words aren’t typing themselves. I walk away and grab a pen and notebook, but the distractions pull my focus off writing. What distracts you? I have a few things that distract me. Some are necessary but maybe at a different time. Others are frivolous and easier to relegate to the background. I began a list of my distractions.

1.      A messy workspace, clutter

2.      Those bings and dings with notifications popping in. They just might be important.

3.      Forgotten household tasks that now must be dealt with, or so I think

4.      Negative self-talk like “Why bother? What will you do with the writing anyway? It’s not good enough?”

5.      Fear of failing. But if we don’t sit down and write, we’ve failed by not trying.

George Lucas said, “Always remember your focus determines your reality.” If I never focus on writing, the reality is I won’t be able to share the stories, devotionals, or articles with others. They will remain hidden in a notebook or on my computer.

We need to plant the seeds that will enable us to focus easier and then cultivate the skill with our writing or any other task we need to accomplish. What are some tips you’ve discovered that help you focus on writing? Some suggestions include:

1.      Clear away distractions. If it is a messy workspace, schedule time other than your writing time to organize it and remove the clutter in your environment which will in turn help negate the mind clutter.

2.      Make yourself some goals. It is not something everyone enjoys or wants to do. But setting big goals and then breaking them down into weekly or daily steps can help you focus on a little bit at a time instead of being overwhelmed with the big picture.

3.      Accountability – It helps me when I have an accountability partner, or more than one. There is a sense of urgency when that other person asks you how far your writing project is and the expected completion date.

4.      To do lists help you see all your everyday tasks and writing ones too. It makes it easier to visualize what needs to be done and the priority it demands in your schedule. An appointment must be met at the assigned time, for example.

5.      Schedule writing time. This is something I struggle with even though I know mornings are the most productive time for me.

6.      Put into practice all the information you have learned over the years. I have a habit of wanting to continue to take a course, go to a workshop, or attend a conference. But I need to use what I’ve learned or it becomes meaningless. That negative voice that tells me I don’t know enough must be quieted.

7.      Just start writing. Use a writing prompt, write everyday happenings, or just nonsense. This helps get the creative juices flowing. Louis L’Amour told an interviewer he never had writer’s block because he had a number of projects on the go in various stages. If he couldn’t think of what should happen next in a story, he’d move to editing a different one, jotting notes for the next story, or polishing a piece to publish. By that time the ideas had filled his mind for the current story. What might work for us?

8.      Don’t edit as you go and break the flow of creativity. The edits can wait until we finish the piece.

9.      Give yourself permission to take breaks so you can return refreshed. But plan the length of those so they don’t become excuses to procrastinate.

These tips are all ones we’ve heard, often many times already. Some we use and keeping focus becomes easier. I needed the reminders so I can quit procrastinating and become more focused and productive with my writing.

Jen Sincere said, “What you focus on, you create more of.”

What does focus look like in your writing life? What works to help you keep on task? The things that I find helpful, might not work for you and vice versa. But the one constant is the need to keep our attention on the goals, the plans God has whispered to us, and the desire to share what we’ve written with others. Now no more evading, no more letting the blank computer screen defeat me, I must spend time focusing on my writing.

Carol Harrison attempts to stay focused on the tasks at hand, with varying degrees of success, from her home in Saskatoon. She loves having the inspirational bits and pieces around her desk area to remind her of the stories yet to be told and the memories past. www.carolscorner.ca