August 28, 2023

How to speak of hope when you're scraping the bottom of the well by Mary Folkerts


I am so discouraged I have nothing to say.

Sometimes, life has surprise attacks that leave us scrambling after the hope we just recently declared. At other times, it’s a slow drain caused by an infrequent connection with the Source of hope combined with a continual fixation on the things that drag us down. Whatever the case, how can one speak of hope when we’re scraping the bottom of the well, when it feels like the words have dried up and there’s nothing left to say?

David, the author of the book of Psalms, was a man known to voice his discouragements, even while being aware of his ultimate source of hope. In Psalms 22:1, he pours out his heart with, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (ESV)

Why is the book of Psalms one of the first books we open when we feel down and discouraged? It’s because we feel a common bond with David as he puts his pain into words. His laments comfort and encourage us because if a man after God's own heart could pour out his doubts and fears to the Lord most high, then maybe it’s okay if we do as well. 

At other times, it’s a slow drain caused 
by an infrequent connection 
with the Source of hope, combined 
with a continual fixation on the things 
that drag us down

As I am comforted by David’s cry and encouraged by his deep understanding of God's care despite his despair, I get a sense of how I could encourage others through my times of struggle.


My struggle isn’t only meant to strengthen my faith. As David’s words give us courage, our words can give readers renewed strength to continue amidst their own struggles. Sharing our struggles can help others feel seen and understood. We don’t need resolutions before we can begin sharing our story. We can speak of our times of hopelessness, reminding ourselves and others where we turn for renewed hope and peace. We may not be closer to understanding, but even in the unknown, we can be assured of God’s continued faithfulness through generations to come. 

So let’s not be afraid to tell our story in the middle of our struggle, in the middle of our discouragement and questions. And as Psalm 23 comes after Psalms 22, we can point to the Shepherd who will “restore our souls even in the valleys.”

As we pour out our pain to God, we will find, like David, that we return to the Source of our comfort and hope.

What do you do 

when all the encouragement 

you write, 

all the verses of hope 

sprinkled eloquently on the page,

bounce hollow 

at the foot of your bed 

where sleep evades 

for the fears that come, 

the mistakes you’ve made, 

the wrongs you spoke, 

the doubts that swirl 


You’re a fake,

you’re a hypocrite. 

But God will not despise 

my broken and contrite heart. 

He gives fresh mercy

He will yet renew hope.

The promises are not lies, 

for I know who speaks lies, 

stealing joy. 

It is not the Giver of Life,

but the enemy of my soul,

taunting me

to give up. 

Create a clean heart in me,

Oh God!

Do not cast me from your presence. 

Restore to me the joy

of your salvation.

Give me a steadfast spirit that 

trusts that You are always 


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  

August 24, 2023

H is for an A-Ha ~ Michelle Strutenberger


Photo by Micah Strutzenberger 2023.

“What does it mean to prosper as a Christian writer?” That question has been an itch on my brain for decades. My first blog for InScribe showed some of the scratching I’ve arrived at after years of reflection, anguished experience, and prayer.

Today, I want to share the a-ha that has further soothed the itch. The a-ha came to me while I was reading certified engineer and dedicated Christian, Henry Haemel’s reflections on the Psalms.

In his blog post, titled, “Fruit, Anyone?” Henry unpacks the Psalm 1 theme on the prosperity promised to those who reject sin. “We tend of think of prosperity in terms of health, and wealth, and happiness,” Henry writes. However, “In context with the rest of the verse, prosperity is the process of achieving fruitfulness.”1

While Henry writes for Christians in general, I had a sudden and uplifting thought: What if I think of my prosperity as a Christian writer in terms of achieving fruitfulness?*

What if I expand beyond the typical weigh scales of writer prosperity - financial return, social media engagement, and reader feedback?

What if I ask myself some different questions to determine my level of prosperity?

After further reflection, I created a new prosperity weigh scale for myself as a Christian writer. Here are my three new tallies of success:

1.      Did I write today? If so, check. I am being fruitful. I am in the process of producing good results.

In many other professions, just showing up and doing the work is enough. Most of us writers do show up faithfully every day. We do the work. We work hard at the work. But because we don’t necessarily get the financial, reader feedback or social media return, we consider ourselves “unprosperous.” What if we see showing up and doing the work as one of our weigh scales of prosperity?

2.      Did I pray over, around, through, and about my writing? Did I ask God for direction about what to write? Did I beg for His anointing as I wrote? If so, check. I am in the process of achieving fruitfulness.

Shortly after my discovery of Henry’s post, my morning devotions featured a quote by Mother Theresa on fruitfulness. “The fruit of our work, as well as the ability to carry it out, comes from prayer.”

As devoted Christian writers, I am guessing most if not all of us pray earnestly over our work already. What if we see that choice to lean on the Lord as one of our weigh scales of prosperity?

3.     Did I line up my writing with God’s word – not just the content, but how I went about my writing and my motives? If so, check. I am being fruitful.

Referring again to Psalm 1, Henry highlights how those who align themselves with God’s Word, the Bible, are like trees planted by streams of water “which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers” (Psalm 1:3, NIV). When your work as a writer is planted in the word of God fruitfulness is a given. What if we start checking off our “Bible-alignment” as a weigh scales of our prosperity? 

So, these are my new daily questions:

1. Did I show up and write?

2. Did I pray earnestly over what to write and ask for God’s anointing as I wrote?

3. Did my writing – both the content and how I went about it – line up with God’s Word?

Check, check, and check? I am in the process of achieving fruitfulness. I am achieving prosperity.


*I want to be careful not to add to Scripture. I am scooping out the general notion of prosperity as achieving fruitfulness and pasting it onto our work as Christian writers, but I understand that Psalm 1 promises fruitfulness to those who live to please the Lord. I think my third question does align with this, but if anyone has concerns about what I’ve written I would be happy to hear from you.

Michelle is an instructor and Braillist. She and her family enjoy hiking trails and mountains. She recently launched the series, "What Growing Up in a Mennonite Family of 10 Taught Me About Survival." To learn more, visit

August 23, 2023

Honing Humans ~ Valerie Ronald

                                                                Credit: Alamy Stock Photo


Being nosy supplies me with material for creating my fictional characters. I am intensely interested in finding out about the people I meet. After the initial social niceties, I want to dive right in with questions about their life journey, passions, opinions and more, but I try to restrain myself in case I give offense. Such curiosity is not just about building my character portfolio. I truly care about people and look for ways to make connections with them. However, the writer part of my brain is also storing away character traits and mannerisms for future reference.

 In analyzing how I develop characters in the short stories I write, certain things stand out. The following points are subjective, yet they may be helpful to others developing fictional characters.

Hatch a human – When I get an idea for a short story, I brainstorm about what kind of main character I want to use. I make a rough character sketch, creating a physical description and a back story. I may or may not use these in the actual story, but they help to form depth and realism in the character. Most importantly, I establish the character’s motivations and goals, as these will carry the story forward.

Hear their voice – Much of a character is revealed by how they behave and react, as well as what they say. This is their “voice”. In the opening paragraph of my story, The Christmas Garden, Nella’s voice is introduced by her actions and responses.

“Nella reached the end of the street before she remembered the shopping list still stuck on her refrigerator. She sighed wearily, turning back to face the chill wind and driving snow. Another fifteen minutes of precious time and energy wasted because of her forgetfulness. She contemplated calling a cab but knew she couldn’t afford it and buy groceries too. Her pension check just didn’t stretch like it used to. She pulled her hat down over her ears and trudged back the way she had come.”

In a few sentences, Nella’s voice is revealed as one of an elderly woman dealing with the challenges of aging, a limited income and a winter storm. More of her voice will emerge as her character moves the story forward.

Have them hurdle hardships –
In order for the story to progress, a character needs to face hardship or a struggle they must overcome to achieve their goal. It can be an external obstacle or antagonist, or some inner turmoil they must deal with. In The Christmas Garden, Nella comes face to face with an intruder when she goes back home for her shopping list. Their interaction is the vehicle for the theme of the story.   

Hand them a history My active imagination creates characters full-blown in my mind. I can see what they look like, hear their spoken words, trace their past and understand what makes them do what they do. I don’t use a formula ˗˗ it just happens. However a character is created, having a history gives them depth and informs their decisions and actions in the story.  

Often the purpose of my short stories is to weave in subtle elements of realistic faith. The following paragraph from The Christmas Garden gives a glimpse into Nella’s inner motivation. Rather than overtly presenting faith, I use her character to communicate the message in a believable way.

“Nella unbuttoned her coat and took off her hat, forgetting all about her shopping trip. A stillness in her spirit made her act contrary to what was logical, but she had learned to listen to that quiet inner prompting she knew to be from God. She turned her back on the young man and walked down the hall to take off her boots.”  

When the movie reel of my story plays in my mind, it is the characters that capture my imagination and affection. They inhabit my inner world, almost as real as people in my outer world. I find stimulation and satisfaction in honing believable humans who evoke empathy, sometimes antipathy and ultimately, curiosity about the Christian faith. 

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

August 22, 2023

Writing for Hope by Lorrie Orr


The crowded ferry is noisy with the chatter of a language I work hard to understand. Outside, all is grey monotone. Constant drizzle soaked my hair and jacket. The boat chugs forward in the fog. Everyone on this crossing of the St. Laurence River from St. Simeon to Riviere du Loup has the same hope: to arrive safely on the other side. 

Hope is an essential emotion for a healthy life. Without hope, despair creeps in. No one chooses to live in despair. As believers, our hope is in the sovereign God of the universe, and as such, our lives should reflect that hope. How can we as writers, live and write in such a way that is hopeful? 

Those who write directly about faith matters can offer hope in Christ directly. But what about authors who write for a more general audience yet still want to impart hope to their writing.

One: Honesty. Be brave. Don't downplay the hard times, the doubts, the struggles. Christian writers sometimes have the tendency to sugarcoat life's dark days with platitudes about trusting God with the result that everything will work out just as you want. We all know this isn't so. It's important to convey the truth that although we may not know how situations will end, we know for certain that Jesus is alongside on the dark and rough journeys as well as the smooth ones.

Two: Hide nuggets of faith. Write from a biblical worldview. Think of the overarching mysterious and astoundingly beautiful story of God's word and place your work within that framework. Hide faith elements throughout your writing. Go deep and force your reader to grapple with seeming inconsistencies. Themes of justice, mercy, love, light, redemption, and beauty can be worked into any writing. I find that authors whom I do not know to be believers often work these elements into their stories. I think of Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache, a character, flawed certainly, but one who reflects many Christlike traits. 

Three: Create a sense of Home. Think of your reader as someone outside in bone-piercing cold longing for warmth and belonging. What would appeal to her? As God's writers, full of hope, we can create a sense of longing in our readers, a longing to come in from the bitter and lonely cold to a place where one is enveloped in warm blankets and given a mug of hot chocolate. 

Four: Remember that it's the Holy Spirit who works in hearts and minds. As we offer hope to our readers, it's He, God's Spirit, who draws our readers to Himself. 

Lorrie Orr lives on Vancouver Island. Currently, she is traveling across Canada with her husband, planning to return home in October. The ferry ride mentioned above fulfilled everyone's hopes of landing safely on the other side. 

August 21, 2023

Habits by Tracy Krauss

H is for HABITS

Habits have a huge impact on the way we live life. Lately, I’ve been examining the effects of my habits, trying to root out patterns of behaviour that have unproductive—even destructive--results and replace them with alternate actions that will hopefully overtake the old ways.

(If, by chance, you happen to be following along in my devotional series, DIVINE APPOINTMENTS, this is something we should regularly do during this month: identify iniquitous patterns and replace them with godly ones.)

The word “iniquitous” sounds rather ominous, but I’ve found it really comes down to making the right choice. I can choose to believe God’s promises or I can choose to wallow in doubt. I can choose faith over unbelief. I can choose to rise early and spend the first of my day with God, or I can choose to stay up late watching Netflix. CHOICE is everywhere and extends to everyday things. I can choose to look after my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, or I can continue over-eating and not exercising. “Choose you this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” (paraphrased from Joshua.) 

My writing habits are no different. Like many other authors I know, I’ve gone through an ebb and flow when it comes to my writing. There have been seasons where I’ve written very little, due to busyness or just feeling void of inspiration. There are other times when I’ve been uber-productive. Self-discipline plays a factor, but I’ve found that establishing a HABIT is the most effective way to keep moving forward. I’m not saying I’ve always been successful, but I’m trying to re-establish this pattern so that it becomes habitual.

When I first started writing, I had an infant. I looked forward to nap time so that I could write. This afternoon appointment became a habit that lasted through my children’s younger years until I went back to work full-time as a teacher. For most of my career, I wrote in large blocks of time during the summer months or during spring break. Once I got published, I had to squeeze all the marketing and subsequent blogging etc. that went with the territory into my evenings and weekends. When I retired from teaching public school, (I still work as an online support teacher) I decided I needed to get back to a daily habit of creative writing whose purpose was not marketing or promotion. 

Some smart person suggested that writing appointments should be part of one’s weekly schedule. Put it on the calendar and stick to it, just like you would any appointment. During COVID, I found this really worked for me. It became a habit—one which I looked forward to each day. I also found I never struggled with writer’s block or any such thing during these times. I knew my appointment was coming up and so my mind and spirit were already primed when I sat down with my laptop.

The past year of moving and renovating really played a number with my habits. (Not just my writing habits, but other things like prayer, sleep and exercise.) These days I am trying to get back to habitual rhythms that are centred more on God. A recent seminar by Shelley Hitz where she encouraged a regular “Business Meeting With God” has been a wonderful reminder of the importance of including God in my plans. I have newfound vigor and excitement for some of my writing projects, some that have been languishing too long on my computer and others that are brand new.

Creating good HABITS is a choice. It’s actually quite simple, though not necessarily easy. 


Tracy Krauss writes from her home in Tumbler Ridge, BC.

August 18, 2023

Healing, Writing, and the Care of InScribe Souls by Alan Anderson


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”—Matthew 11:28, 29 (NIV)


Healing and the Care of Souls

NOTE: My mention of healing in this message is in reference to emotional or spiritual healing.


A Personal Ponder

While I prepared this blog post and for reasons beyond me my writing energy gave way to thoughts about our InScribe membership. Thoughts I pondered about InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, are the motivation for this post.

Every so often within our InScribe membership we hear of deaths, illness, or other life changing experiences. We care for each other especially in these times. Why do we care so much? We care because InScribe is more than a writer’s group. I hope you agree with me.


Words Heal

When I ministered as a local church pastor I recognized a teaching role of the church membership. They taught me skills like patience, the need for community, and what it means to listen. They also taught me about my primary expression of how God gifted me to serve people. This blessed lesson motivated me to redirect my servant heart to healthcare chaplaincy.

When asked to come alongside people a good chaplain knows when to use words. Words, if needed, come after we listen. Words often heal when we come alongside a hurting soul. In this being the case, we choose our words with caution.

Write to Heal

As a pastoral student, I was taught sermons must be meaningful to the pastor before they are preached for others. I follow a similar direction as a writer. What I write must be meaningful to me as a writer before I send it out into the world. What I write must include words to hopefully bring a sense of healing to those who read them.

What I write must also be a respectful and loving reflection on InScribe. I see InScribe as my writing community, but also a community of care.

I have written for our blog for several years. When Tracy Schmidt Nagel Krauss, asked me to write for the blog I felt like my teacher asked me to speak in front of my class. Once my nerves came back into line, I accepted this great honour.

I give thanks to God and members of InScribe for helping me to develop my voice as a writer. My whole reason to write is summed up in my desire to bring a sense of healing and hope to my readers. Through the encouragement of members of InScribe I also developed the tagline for my writing. I write as one, “Touched by grief, yet held by hope.”

Healing Words of Care for Our InScribe Family

One’s physical presence in coming alongside a person who suffers, may bring healing, at least in the moment. As a chaplain I witnessed healing in the context of serious illness or the dying process. Such healing may come in the form of holding hands, a gentle touch on a loved one’s forehead, or a quiet whisper like, “It’s okay darling, you can go now, I’ll be alright.”

If geographical distance is not a challenge, we, as members of InScribe can chat with each other at a coffee shop or ice cream store. We can meet at a park and share a picnic lunch. We can come alongside each other at times of personal or family health crisis. We can hold each other’s hands to let each other know we are not alone. If you are a hugger like me, we can comfort each other with a hug. If words miss the mark even as writers, our physical presence may speak volumes.

On the other hand, perhaps physical presence is not always possible. Members of InScribe are often separated by miles, but we can still show we care. We can put our words into action through such tools as emails, letters, phone calls, post cards, Messenger, and social media platforms.

Perhaps even now, this minute, there may be a reason to reach out to an InScribe family member. Don’t wait, do it now.

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. Blog:


August 16, 2023

H is for Hospital by Lorilee Guenter

The past two weeks, I have spent many hours at the hospital as God writes the final pages of my dad's life. Through the journey there have been other "h" words come to mind. Words lived in the moments we have. Today I offer a reflection on a life well lived and the final pages of a life story.

As people of faith, these days do not only mark an end but a new beginning. We live each day in the hope that we have been given. Soon dad's faith will become sight.  He lived with the hope of healing, perfect healing, as he embraced life both now and the one to come. He shared that hope even in the moments of deep pain. 

He leaves a legacy of love. Day by day Dad showed us what love looked like. Staff and volunteers have commented on the love they have witnessed as we wait for the last line of the earthly story to be written. We know the first line of the sequel. I am grateful for the legacy of love that I am part of and recognize the unspoken challenge to continue that legacy.

Throughout the years, Dad lived a life of consistency. He offered help and encouragement to those around him. He knew you didn't need to write a novel for your words to have impact. He encouraged us to use our words to write for ourselves and others. He modelled kind and encouraging words to those he interacted with including cashiers and strangers put in his path. Now as we share stories with friends, family and staff and volunteers here who pause to listen, we are on the receiving end of encouragement, help and offers of help. 

As I reflect on the example and teaching of my dad, it is my hope that we as writers offer ourselves as a pen in God's hand as he writes our story and the stories of those around us.

August 15, 2023

H is for Homilophobia by Carol Harrison


H is for Homilophobia

1 Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But, do this with gentleness and respect.”

As I thought about this month’s letter, I decided to look at new words. Maybe I could expand my vocabulary and find a word that began with the letter H, that was unfamiliar, at least to me. I browsed the dictionary for fun. Well actually I googled words that started with the letter H and trusted God to help me decided on the right one to write about.

H is for homilophobia, a word I wasn’t familiar with. So, I checked on the meaning and root of this word, homilophobia. The Greek word, homilo means sermon and phobia is fear. Any phobia can range from moderate to severe. Fear isn’t always logical but it attacks our sense of well-being. What about homilphobia or the fear of sermons? This fear makes the person want to avoid attending church or being anywhere they might be preached at.

How could I relate this to the verse that commands us to share the gospel, the reason for our hope? If we preach at our readers, we will turn them away from finishing the piece or book and never picking up anything again. For those with the fear of sermons, if we preach in our writing, they will be afraid to continue reading and maybe never pick up another book by a Christian author in case they felt preached at.

To gently share means not being heavy-handed or beating them over the head with a Bible as an old saying goes. Preaching is the heavy-handed, in your face method of getting the message out to people. But knowing that some people actually have a phobia regarding sermons, it made me think about what I write and how I say it.

As writers we all know how choosing the right words is important. Not preaching at a person in our writing means showing them the answers rather than telling it to them. This brought it to another point we hear over and over as writers – show, don’t tell.

Internal conflict in our characters gives an opportunity to bring in the reason for their hope. People identify with some type of internal conflict so not only does it help to show rather than tell the story, it keeps us from preaching. After all, it’s the character that is struggling. Relatable but not preachy.

Another good way to bring in the gospel is to have the characters ask questions and someone else answer them in a gentle manner. Those questions could be ones the readers are asking but don’t know where to go for answers.

I don’t think any of us enjoy someone scolding us. It makes us feel like a naughty child whose parent is shaking their finger at them and saying no. When we write we can include ourselves by using we instead of you or talk about our own experience. This gets a message across without the preachy aspect to it. Sharing experience goes such a long way in showing the message too.

One Sunday, we listened to a young man preach. As he made one point and he told the congregation, “You should not do this. It’s not what God wants.” It felt like an attack or that he put himself above doing something wrong. It would have been better to say it like this, “We shouldn’t do this because God doesn’t want that for us.” Then he’d be preaching the truth without condemnation of everyone but himself.

In many ways our writing already should be such that homiliophics could read it without fear. These reminders are good for me and I wanted to share them with all of you. Do you know anyone who has this phobia?

Let’s always be ready to share the hope we have but to remember to do it gently, asking God to help us have the right words to say.


Carol Harrison loves to share, both orally and in writing, the good news by using personal experience and stories from God's Word. She lives in Saskatoon and you can find her at